By George Morse
Braves Get Ready For Upcoming Season.
The Santa Fe Indian School football team faces challenges, not the least of which is playing in the toughest district in the state. Robertson High School, St. Michael’s High School, West Las Vegas High School and Raton High School are the other members of District 2-3A. Robertson High School has played in the state championship game for four straight years. St. Michael’s is a traditionally strong team on the gridiron.
“The state championship runs through our district,” Indian School Coach Carl Vigil said.
Vigil, entering his fourth season as coach of the Braves, has other challenges to face that are unique to Indian School and football. As a private boarding school that draws students from all over the state, Indian School players do not have the opportunity to practice during the summer with the other players. Municipal high schools have a majority of players who have grown up together and known each other since they started competing in youth athletic leagues. They can participate in summer practices and passing leagues (7-on-7). Indian School players spend the summers with their respective home communities all over the state.
“I might have two or three kids that grew up together,” Vigil said.
At the end of the school year, most of the players return to their communities across the state. In many of them, there are no organized youth football leagues. It’s not like basketball, where you can put up a basket in your yard and shoot hoops all summer long.
Many of the players are new to football when they arrive at Indian School.
“We take a lot of baby steps before we even get into pads,” Vigil said. “We really have to start with the basic fundamentals.”
Many don’t show up until school officially starts and don’t have the required 10 practices before they can play in a game.
“I don’t have a full roster until games three or four,” Vigil said.
Even during the season, many players will return home for the weekend to spend time with their family. That has led to Indian School having a unique schedule that includes many games being played on Thursday. Of the Braves 10 scheduled games this season, four will be played on Thursday.
“A lot of our kids go home on Friday,” Indian School Athletic Director Eric Brock said. “That’s why we decided to do that. It’s actually helped. There’s a critical shortage of officials, so by playing games on Thursday means more (officials) will be available on Friday.”
Typically, Indian School will enjoy some success in the pre-district part of their season. District wins have been hard to come by, but the players and coaches remain dedicated.
“We emphasize effort, rather than results,” Vigil said.
Despite the challenges, Vigil has put together a good program of a core group of dedicated players.
“The positives far outweigh the challenges,” he said. “I love this school and the kids are awesome.”
Vigil returns some good players at the skill positions. Last year’s starting quarterback, senior Shaun Riley returns for another season.
“He has a knack for being a leader,” Vigil said. “His leadership is outstanding.”
Devry Vigil will also see time at quarterback.
“He throws a really good ball,” Coach Vigil said. “He’s the better throwing quarterback. I’d like to run a more balanced offense and I think we can do that this year.”
His brother, Demaris Vigil, will play right guard.
Senior Francisco Pino will carry the ball at running back.
“He has lights-out speed,” Coach Vigil said.
Julian Martinez will see time at linebacker and the “Hawk” position.
“He doesn’t miss practice and is always ready to go,” Vigil said.
Indian School will run a 4-2-5 defense. Linebacker is a position that Coach Vigil has trouble finding players for.
“I have some big guys to fill the line,” he said. “After that, I have a lot of players who are defensive-back size. I don’t have mid-size guys (for linebacker).”
Indian School will scrimmage Grants High School and Albuquerque Academy Friday in Albuquerque. The first game is Aug. 22 (a Thursday) against Cuba High School in Santa Fe.