MESCALERO – Questions abounded about the Mescalero football team on the eve of its first game of the season.
How would the players respond to new coach Leonard Velasquez? Would their offense be able to produce? How good could this team be?
The answer to the last question – based on their 54-34 victory over Jemez Valley, Aug. 29 – very, very good.
“Offensively, we ran the ball well,” Velasquez said. “It’s a single-wing offense, but we ran the veer out of it as well, and they gave us some great angles to block. Our running backs ran the ball well.
Mescalero did much of its scoring in the first half, starting with two touchdowns by Austin Buurma to give his team a 12-0 lead before the first quarter was out. Christian Tsinijinnie scored with 22 seconds left and the Chiefs had a 20-0 lead.
Jemez Valley finally got on the board in the second half, and all the Warrior scoring came courtesy of Trevor Armijo, who had four touchdowns in all, including a 38-yard reception with 26 seconds left in the first half.
That made it 26-12, and it looked as though Jemez Valley might be heading to the break on a roll.
But Larian Hosetosavit ran the kickoff back 65 yards for the score – his second touchdown of the day – and the Chiefs maintained a comfortable lead.
That lead stayed comfortable throughout the second half, despite the Warriors’ ability to score on an increasingly tired Mescalero defense.
“We got tired. The kids aren’t conditioned well,” Velasquez said. “We let them get away from us a little bit, but we know what we need to work on.”
Christian Tsinnijinnie was a big reason the Chiefs were able to maintain that lead, he scored four times on the day.
“I’m loving the new coaching system, the staff and all that,” Tsinnijinnie said. “We have a lot more plays than we did last year, and I can’t believe we won this game by this score.”
Opening with a big win builds confidence, and they’ll need that and more against Dora. It’s a school Velasquez is familiar with, having coached the Coyotes when it was a six-man program.
“Now that they’ve had a little success, it’s going to get better,” Velasquez said. “We saw that success in our scrimmage against Springer. The kids’ eyes lit up after that.
“Dora has good athletes, although they had it pretty rough against Melrose,” he added. “We’ll have to be prepared with whatever they give us.”