The Trinidad Miner football team is hosting the Center Vikings for their home opener on Saturday at Dutch Nogel Field at 1 p.m.
This will be the Miner’s third game this season. The 11-man team started this summer with 12 core players and new head coach Justin Malano has grown those ranks to a roster that includes about 25 players. Yet, for their most recent game against Texhoma (Okla.), 16 players were available.
The Miners opened the season with the annual Coal Bucket game in Raton, which ended in a 43-6 loss. After a week off, the team traveled to Texhoma and again was on the losing side, 56-0.
Scoreboards will be a hard way to judge the rebuilding Miner program this year, considering the lack of numbers and experience (Malano is the team’s third coach in three years). Effort will be the better measure.
Coach Malano has lauded his group’s effort through the summer and in the Raton game.
“I have a core group of 12 that worked the whole summer with me and are familiar with what I want to do and how we want to do things and have helped spreading the message,” said Malano. “We’ve been working our tails off and the kids are bonding around that… The kids are great and the parents have been great. And I can’t say enough about how the kids that are playing are giving everything they’ve got. Once we figure things out schematically we are going to be OK.”
Coach Malano thought the team might have taken a small step back this past weekend after crossing three state lines to face a much larger and more experienced team in the Texhoma Red-Devils. Yet, again, the team battled through a numbers deficit. A wide receiver even had to be moved to the offensive line.
“I do not think the boys came out as hard as they did against Raton. I know that our boys can give a much better effort. I think the long road trip got to our kids and we were playing without the use of our two starting running backs, our center and two starting guards,” said Malano. “The shuffling around caused a whole lot of confusion in every facet of the game. Senior Jayden Valentine was forced to move from wide reciever to guard and sophomore Grady Stanley had to move from tight end to left guard. Angelo Lovato filled in at center and he is usually at right tackle. I thought the replacements played extremely well, but their confusion showed on the tape. We also lost safety Justin Romero in the first half and Jayden Valentine became limited late in the game. There were 16 guys suited for the game and only 13 finished. I hope to get the boys to recover well this week and improve in practice.”
Yet Coach Malano was excited at the prospects for this Saturday’s game against the Vikings.
Said Malano, “The Center Vikings represent a challenge that could be a little more even, with both teams having about the same numbers.”
Center has a roster of about 20 team members.
Just like for his players, this season is a chance to learn for a new football coach.
“This has been a learning experience for me. I had head track experience, but now football is a completely different animal. Organizing everything has been a challenge, from fundraisers to meetings and practice. I have two kids, one a four month old, so juggling things has been interesting, but with the help of coach (Jim) Slaughter, the players and parents, we’re getting things accomplished.”
And the team is getting things accomplished regardless of not being able to play 11-on-11 in practice, have only six linemen on the roster and nearly every player has to play not only offense and defense, but also special teams.
“When people ask me, I tell them that I see three, or four, winnable games on the schedule,” said Malano. “Being a team that lost every game last year, two to three games is a huge positive. I see potential for four, or five, but it’s just a matter of getting all of us on the same page.”
Malano was asked what fans could expect from his team Saturday.
“The boys would love to see everyone. We had a great turn out in Raton and would like to see the same thing here at Dutch Nogel Stadium. The boys are playing hard and the people that come to the game are going to see some good effort more than anything out there,” said Malano.
The Trinidad Miner football team is also offering volunteer services for anyone in the community who is in need of manpower for moving, or cleanup projects. Please contact the high school at 719-846-2971 to get in touch with Coach Malano, or Coach Slaughter.
THS MINER REMAINING SCHEDULE
— Saturday Sept. 21 @ 1 p.m. /Versus Center / HOME
— Friday, Sept. 27 @ 7 p.m. / Florence — AWAY
— Friday, Oct. 4 @ 7 p.m. / John Mall — HOME
— Friday, Oct. 11 @ 7 p.m. / Crowley County— HOME
— Friday, Oct. 18 @ 7 p.m. / Ellicott — HOME
— Friday, Oct. 25 @ 7 p.m. / Rocky Ford — AWAY
— Friday, Nov. 1 @ 7 p.m. Peyton — AWAY
2019 MINER FOOTBALL ROSTER
No. Name Position Year
1 Ruben Fernandez RB, MLB Sr.
2 Elijah Miller WR, S So.
3 Brandon Billiter WR, OLB Jr.
7 Fernando Porras FB, CB Jr.
10 Isaiah Bowman WR, OLB So.
11 Matt Martinez QB, S Sr.
20 Jayden Valentine CB, WR Sr.
22 Jacob Robinson HB, ILB Sr.
24 Nathan Ramirez CB, WR So.
29 Alberto Felthager WR Jr.
34 Chris Gurule WR So.
40 Chris Yeager OLB, WR Fr.
44 Chance Wiening T, DE, NG Sr.
48 Justin Romero DB, WR Sr.
51 Jeff Duran OL, DL Jr.
52 Grady Stanley DL, OLB So.
55 Angelo Lovato G, DT So.
58 Jimmy Torres OL, DL Jr.
63 Adrian Pike G, DT Sr.
66 Malchijah Baca G, DT Fr.
69 Arthur Gallegos DE, T So.
72 Eric Sandoval DT, T Sr.
77 Blayze Torres DL, OL Jr.
80 Ricky Felthager WR, CB Sr.
84 Eric Guzman-Diaz K So.
Staff: Assistant coach Leon Romero, assistant coach Jim Slaughter