EVHS Football Practice Starts Strong

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​The Española Valley High School football team raises their helmets together at the end of practice Aug. 2 at Española Valley High School. All photos by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

EVHS Football Practice Starts Strong

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

They say football games are won in the trenches, where big linemen battle each other looking to protect their quarterback and open holes to give their running backs some running room. Under that criteria, the Española Valley High School Sundevils should win some games.

“We’re really stout on the line,” Española Coach Jesus Maes said. “”We have a little bit of beef.”

Española Valley High School head coach Jesus Maes talks to his team after practice. Maes starts his second season with the Sundevils. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

With all of their linemen returning, the Sundevils should be solid up front. Senior Sam Garde (228 pounds) anchors the line at center. Seniors Nick Martinez (225 pounds) and Nate Martinez (180 pounds)

Line up at right guard and left tackle, respectively. They are cousins. Junior Amadeo Suazo (220 pounds)

Fills the right tackle slot. Senior Noah Coriz (200 pounds) is the left guard.

​Española center Sam Garde (55) leads the line in front of an Española running back. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“Looks like we’re going to run the ball,” Coach Maes said. “Smash mouth football. That shortens up games and gives us a chance to win at the end.”

To take advantage of that line and their other personnel, Española is installing a new offense, in part because their prospective offensive coach couldn’t reach a salary agreement with the school district and returned to Texas, taking with him his son, who would have been a key part of the offense.

Española was able to fill the shoes at offensive coach quickly when Ron DuPree came on board, following the hiring of Phillip Roybal as Athletic Director. Dupree and Roybal have a long history together in Texas and at Hobbs High School.

​Española offensive coach Ron DuPree (right) watches quarterback Arlen Garcia during practice Aug. 2 at Española Valley High School

DuPree has installed an offense that Coach Maes likes to call the “Maryland I” or a “Stacked I.”

‘We can use our personnel better in this offense,” Coach Maes said.

DuPree prefers to call if a “44 offense.” When the Sundevils are running the ball, there are three backs lined up directly behind the quarterback, essentially giving the offense four running backs. The first back behind the quarterback is the blocking back. The next back is a big fullback. The back that completes the “I” is the tailback

In passing situations, the quarterback lines up deep in a shotgun formation with four potential receivers.

During practice Aug. 2, Dupree had the team run the same play four times. The first was done as a walk, the second as a jog, the third was fast and the fourth was at “warp.” Dupree continued to emphasize being fast during practice.

Returning for the Sundevils at tailback is senior DeAndre Curtis. Curtis blossomed as a running back late in the season and earned all-district honors. He will be joined by Damian Velasquez at fullback. Velasquez was slated to start last season but was injured early in the first game and missed the entire season.

​Española tailback DeAndre Curtis tosses a pass out to a receiver in the flat during practice. All photos by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

“Curtis came on late in the season,” Coach Maes said. “He’s ready to go. Damian is healthy and 100 percent. He’s kinda hungry.”

Sophomores Arlen Garcia and Kebin Marquez have been taking snaps at quarterback, as well as Curtis. Both Marquez and Garcia saw action last season.

“They’re sophomores, but they’re seasoned sophomores,” Coach Maes said.

Coach Maes was a late hire last season and this is the first time he has spent an entire offseason with the team.

“It’s huge,”Coach Maes said. “Building team rapport. I don’t care how much you know. If you don’t get to know the kids, they’re not going to play for you.”

The last two seasons have been a roller coaster for the Sundevils. From a school-record 9-2 season and a District 2-5A championship in 2015, Española was just 1-9 last season. One of the strengths of the 2015 season was a veteran line led by a strong group of seniors. This season, the Sundevils have another seasoned group of senior linemen.

Senior center Garde believes this year the line will be ready to lead again. Helikes the offense that DuPree is installing.

“I think it really exploits how good our line is,” Garde said. “We can push people off the ball. We’re ready to show how much work we put in and receive some of the glory for it.”