Early June might be a little early for most people to be thinking about football, but that’s definitely not true for Robert Armijo. The newly named Head Football Coach of the Trinidad High School Mighty Miners said he was already very excited about the opportunity to be a head football coach for the first time.
“I am ready to get going and I’m ready to get the kids rolling and ready to go,” Coach Armijo said in a Thursday, June 8, interview.
The Raton, NM native will meet with his new players at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 12 in the football locker room at Donnelley Gym on the high school campus. Coach Armijo asked that the players bring proof of a current physical, gym shorts and athletic shoes for the beginning of off-season workouts.
Now 28, he graduated from Raton High School in 2006 and played baseball at New Mexico Highlands University for two years, and also played baseball at Otero Junior College for one year before returning to Highlands to play football for one year and earn his Bachelors degree in elementary education there. He’s spent the past few years as an assistant football coach for the Raton Tigers, and also coached softball and baseball there. He talked about what it was like to grow up in a football-loving family in a football-loving town that is a lot like it’s neighbor, Trinidad.
“Growing up in Raton was, I’m sure, a lot like growing up in Trinidad,” Armijo said. “It’s a football town, and it’s good in other sports too. As a boy growing up, your dad played football and your uncle played football and your cousin played football, so you play football. My grandpa used to say, ‘you know, you should play college football.’ I thought I was too small to play, but I decided to give it a shot.
“It’s always in your blood. It’s always in your mind. You can smell it and you can taste it. Football’s a lot like life. You get knocked down and you have to find a way to get yourself up and get going.”
He was asked how playing football could help a young man mature into adulthood.
“It’s like you could have a better team but you don’t win that night. You have to find a way to get back up and get over it. Football’s a contact sport. You get hit and you get hurt, but you have to get up and get ready for the next play. Just like life.”
Besides coaching football and running the weightlifting program, he’ll also be a first-grade teacher at Eckhart Elementary School in the upcoming school year. He talked about being on the other side of the annual “Battle of the Coal Bucket” between Trinidad and Raton for the first time.
“That’s a big one. It’s going to be different for me. My parents told me they would take their Tigers blanket to the game and wear their Miners shirts.”
The Mighty Miners open their 2017 season on Friday, August 25, with a road game at Payton, followed on Friday, September 1, by another road game at Raton’s Tiger Stadium. The first home game will be played on Friday, September 8, at Miners Stadium against the John Mall H.S. Panthers.
He said his team would use a spread offense this year. The Spread Offense is arguably the most popular style of offense in football right now. It is run at every level from youth football to the NFL. The spread is typically run out of a shotgun formation with three, four or five receivers. The reasons for using the spread offense are different for each style of offense, according to the website: Footballxos.com. Some teams use it to emphasize the running attack, while others use it to create a numbers advantage in the passing game.
“I’m going to bring in the spread offense, but we’re not necessarily going to air it out all of the time. We can still run the ball a lot, but I like the spread. I like the idea of getting people out in space and using what you have to your advantage. You can have a big offensive line and still be good with the spread. You can have a small offensive line and be great with the spread. I’m a big believer in that, so we’re going to go with it.
He’s still looking for a defensive coordinator, but he said he’s looking for someone who has experience coaching a defense, and then plans to let him do the job his way.
Training and conditioning were critically important to the development of young athletes, he said, adding that he wanted his guys to get going on that right away.
“It’s huge. I’m meeting with them on Monday and we’re going to get started immediately. We’re going to start weight lifting. I’m a huge believer in speed training, where you work on your speed and agility. We need to work on the weights. It’s a physical game and we’ve got to be strong.”
Armijo will succeed veteran Mighty Miners Coach Randy Begano, who has retired.