Seven years is a long time to wait for anything, and Corona is now being rewarded with football.
Yes, football. Six-man football.
Not since 2007, when the Cardinals had joined forces with nearby Vaughn to form the Wings, has the field in Corona been graced by the sounds of colliding helmets and pads.
They’ve been practicing for two months, but Oct. 11 saw their first competition of any kind at Pine Hill in a 51-24 “loss.”
It was a loss in quotes because it wasn’t really a game. It was more of a scrimmage.
“This is a probationary season,” said Corona coach Matt Lovato, who – along with Kyle Davis – is volunteering his time to lead the team. “We’re only scrimmaging with other schools just starting in football.”
While Pine Hill is also just starting its football program, they’ve already played five games this season. That’s some extra experience the Cardinals need.
“It went very well, we worked and executed the plays,” Lovato said. “The kids got over their nerves and did well.”
There’s only two games scheduled this season, with Pine Hill coming to Corona Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. for the Cardinals’ only home contest.
Nine players grace the roster, led by juniors Sam Brown, Dominic Mulnix and Damien Mulnix.
The kids are really the real reason there’s even a team this year. They petitioned the school board and superintendent to get the program going and finally won out this fall.
“The town is real excited to have football again here,” Lovato said. “We got quite a bit of support on our away game, and plenty of people cruise by to watch our practices.”
Lovato comes to the team with plenty of playing experience, having played six-man football at Mountainair and 11-man at Aztec. He said the real point of this season is to get his kids more experience and more looks.
“We need to get more exposure for the kids, letting other schools know we have a team,” Lovato said. “These boys have really come a long way from never having played a football game.”