The 2016 prep football season begins in 3½ weeks, and time is of the essence to Judge Chavez.
He and his alma mater, the Valley Vikings, are a longtime couple and yet only recently married.
“I didn’t come here to fail,” he said.
The former Highland and Cibola head coach faces a grueling challenge in his return season, and he’s been trying to squeeze every ounce out of this offseason.
“There’s a lot of urgency in practice,” senior quarterback Isaiah Chavez said. “No fooling around. We go as hard as we can, and if we don’t, there are consequences.”
The quarterback Chavez, no relation to the coach, is one of the few people who represent stability at Valley this season. He has 17 varsity starts already under his belt.
“In my opinion, Isaiah, of all the QBs we’ve seen in the metro area, is as good as anyone else,” coach Chavez said. “He does everything right.”
The Vikings, who open Aug. 27 against Volcano Vista, do return three starters along the O-Line. But Valley’s other skill-position athletes are practically brand new to this level of football.
“We have a bunch of hard-working kids that are buying into what we are trying to sell,” Judge Chavez said. And what is that? “Discipline, accountability, hard work and all those things that are associated with football. When you take over a program, I think it’s important to establish those things right away. We can’t win if we don’t accomplish those goals.”
Valley at a glance
Coach: Judge Chavez (1st year: 124-81 career record at Highland and Cibola)
Last season: 3-7
Returning starters: 3 offense, 5 defense
Key players: Isaiah Chavez, sr. (6-2, 160, QB); Marco Trujillo, sr. (6-1, 300, C/DT); Xavier Ortiz, jr. (5-10, 180, OLB/WR); Mitchell Martinez, jr. (6-1, 200, DE/TE); Isaac Estrada, sr. (5-9, 185, FB/ LB); Thomas Kenny, sr. (6-0, 215, G/ILB); Marcus Montoya, sr. (6-3, 215, DE/OT); Daryl Aimes, sr. (5-6, 145, CB/WR); Nick Sigmon, sr. (6-5, 225, DE/OT); Anthony Salazar, sr. (5-6, 140, WR/ DB); Jonathan Sierra, sr. (5-6, 140, RB/DB); Naseem Madani, jr. (5-8, 155, athlete).
Outlook: Valley has a very experienced quarterback in Chavez, which is good, and several returning offensive lineman, another plus. However, pretty much all the other skill-position athletes on this team are untested at the varsity level. The key offseason addition, of course, is the return of Judge Chavez as the coach of his alma mater, but as with any new coach, even one with his savvy, it could take a little time before the Vikings start seeing some results. Lots of question marks for this group.
(x-denotes District 4-6A game)
Aug. 27 at Volcano Vista (C), 1 p.m.
Sept. 2 Sandia (M), 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Alamogordo, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 Las Cruces (M), 1 p.m.
Sept. 23 Eldorado (M), 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 OPEN
x-Oct. 7 at Atrisco Heritage (C), 7 p.m.
x-Oct. 13 Albuquerque High (M), 7 p.m.
x-Oct. 20 at Rio Grande (C), 7 p.m.
x-Oct. 27 at West Mesa (C), 7 p.m.
x-Nov. 3 Highland (M), 7 p.m.
Circle the date: The district opener with the Jaguars will be crucial to both programs, especially in a relatively soft district that is likely to get only one bid to the playoffs.