They have a new coach, the vast majority of their starters from a year ago have graduated, and who they do have coming back might be a bit undersized.
So what’s wrong with the picture for the Moriarty Pintos football team in 2014?
Nothing, according to the players and new head coach Joe Anaya.
“I feel like we’ll be better than the last three years,” senior Moriarty quarterback Skylar Pearson said.
That would be a heck of a first step under the new regime as the old one under former coach Bob Allcorn finished off with three straight District 5-4A championships.
The district picture for Anaya, Pearson and the rest of the Pintos is a little different in a couple of respects. The Pintos are now in Class 5A after New Mexico’s new alignment, but the major difference is that, instead of a three-team district with St. Pius and Del Norte, Moriarty will have Pius, Albuquerque Academy and Grants as its league rivals.
Anaya was actually part of the staff last year as an assistant and many of the coaches are the same for Moriarty.
“The coaches on our staff are really good and the kids really trust them,” Anaya said. “We’re fortunate to have them.”
One of the biggest challenges for the Pintos might be how they size up with opponents. Anaya acknowledges that Pearson, at around 6-feet, might be the tallest player on the squad.
But Pearson, for one, is unconcerned about that perceived disadvantage.
“We were usually spending most of our time off (between seasons) making ourselves stronger, so we can play the bigger teams,” he said.
“It’s a hardworking community and the kids love to work for what they get,” Anaya said. “Something about these kids – they come to work and they work hard.”
Pearson is one of only three players who could be considered a consistent starter in 2013. Running back Allen Michel enters his junior season with plenty of reps from his sophomore campaign.
And another running threat, senior Joe Jackson, returns. Jackson did get to carry the ball for Moriarty last season, but his main starting experience came as a cornerback for the Pintos. For half a season.
Jackson went out in the seventh game, against Roswell, when he tore his ACL and meniscus. Assuming he’s recovered fully, Jackson will team with Michel to power the run game that Moriarty likes to employ.
“Rehab went pretty good. I had a couple of setbacks, but it’s getting more stable,” Jackson said. “Now I’m just working on getting back my speed.”
The new crop of Pintos, the ones who didn’t see as much playing time, include offensive guard Isaiah George, junior fullback Jonathan Ipiotis and another running back in junior Nicholas Young.
Confidence is high among the Moriarty contingent, but Jackson is only too aware of how quickly things can change in an instant.
“I feel like we have a really solid first team,” Jackson said. “I’m a little wary about what would happen if somebody got hurt.”
But will that alter the playing style of the junior back, or the rest of his teammates?
“I’m going to go full speed,” Jackson said.
The Pintos open Aug. 29 at home against Miyamura.