There are challenges aplenty for any new high school football coach, but Eric Brock faces probably more than most.
He takes over a squad that he really didn’t even get to see until late last week.
But that’s the way things are at Santa Fe Indian School, which is primarily a boarding school, drawing its students from across New Mexico.
Most new coaches have the summer to get know the players, implement a strength-and-conditioning program, and install new offensive and defensive schemes.
Brock is trying to cram it all in during a hectic round of two-a-days.
The drawbacks, however, are not something he wants to dwell upon.
Instead, the former Haskell Indian Nations University player and coach, who last season was the defensive coordinator at Rio Rancho High School, is trying to create an atmosphere of winning.
“From what I’ve heard, I think it’s going to take a year of stability to kind of get these kids ingrained and get the kids to come out,” Brock said.
To inspire a feeling of camaraderie and create some unity, he has encouraged parents and students to attend potluck picnics on Sundays.
That’s something that’s already been very well received by the players.
“Coach is doing a good job, being more proactive with the team having morning and evening practices,” said senior offensive and defensive lineman Adam Vicente. “He’s having parents more involved by having potlucks on Sunday. He’s building with family.”
It’s helping Brock gain the players’ trust.
“He’s doing a really good job, with two practices a day, 6 a.m. and one after school,” said linebacker and lineman Alejandro Hernandez. “The parents and athletes come together with a little bonding. That’s really good. We have meetings after practices, go over plays and things. It’s OK.”
Hernandez (5 foot, 11 inches, 230 pounds) and Vicente (5-11, 235) are among the bigger players on the team, Brock said, but he plans to take advantage of the team’s strength, which is speed.
“We’re going to try to put a lot more speed out there than I saw on tape last year,” the coach said of the Braves’ team that went 3-7. “We might have smaller personnel but they’ll be able to run. I want our opponents on defense to have to put up with our tenacity and go-all-out attitude going to the ball. And I want our opponents on offense to have to worry about how fast we are.”
The playbook will be fairly basic, Brock said, at least at the outset.
“The toughest thing I’ve had to figure out is having the kids show up in shape,” he said. “Luckily, they’re ready to learn. We’re going to have to keep it simple. Really tone down what we do. We just need to do the things the kids already know how to do and hopefully get better at that.”
The players have come in ready to get busy and most kept themselves in shape over the summer.
“What’s impressed me the most is how they work,” Brock said. “No complaints, no problems, you don’t see any tardiness. They’re there on time, ready to work and soaking up everything you can tell them.”
Offensively, Santa Fe Indian School is still searching for a quarterback, so Brock sees a steady rushing diet behind junior tailback Ryan Luarkie.
“I really want to establish a solid running game,” Brock said. “We want to be able to get the ball out on the perimeter.”
The new attitude at the top has the team feeling good about the future.
“We sure want to win more games,” Hernandez said. “We definitely want to have a better season than last year.”