Trinidad High School Miner’s football team had a rough season this year with several injuries as well as other difficulties that led to seven losses, a forfeit and one win. Trinidad Miner’s Football Coach Justin Malano, in his first year as the school’s coach, said the season posed challenges on several fronts.
“It was a battle with the numbers for one,” said Malano, “and then we had a weak eligibility, had kids not show up, and then lost several to injuries.”
In their game against Florence, an injury suffered after the first six plays of the game forced the Miners to have to forfeit.
“We had lost three players and we were trying to fill the team and only had ten kids showing up to practice,” Malano said. “By that Friday, we had 13 kids so we suited 13 and right away at Florence, one of the players got hurt that was playing quarter back so we had to forfeit in the middle of the game. That was a low point.”
Showing up to practice is half the battle and that contributed to the low numbers and caused problems throughout the season.
“At one point we had 21 kids on the roster but in practice other than my core group of seven or eight guys, the other seven that made up the rest of the team wouldn’t show up to practice and not tell me anything,” said Malano. “We didn’t really have any successful weeks of practice with everyone there.”
Malano stressed that this season’s performance wasn’t for lack of ability, although it’s going to take time to build a solid understanding of the skills that need to be developed.
“In terms of the athletes we have here, we have athletes to compete,” said Malano. “I’m still just working on changing the culture and try to get more kids to participate and get them to realize that if they want to win, we have to have successful weeks of practice.”
With so few players, Malano said the seniors really stepped up and several players really brought forward a great effort.
“Mat Martinez was our only offensive weapon,” said Malano. “He was the only person to score a touchdown. Chance Weining, a senior, was a team utility player and a force on the field, playing in nearly every position. Those two guys were working with me all summer. . The seniors that were there all summer and tried to turn the tide with me never gave up and were amazing.”
Time and buying into the program is what Malano said it would take to get the team back on the right track.
“I really do enjoy the game and working with these players,” said Malano, “but I feel like we’re at the same spot we were when I took this team over. It’s going to take a lot of rebuilding and more than anything it’s getting the kids to understand that for one, we can’t fill the team with 15 guys. Two, if we can’t have a practice then we’re never going to be prepared for a game. I think it’s important that everybody knows that we’re not going to have a product if the kids don’t buy into it just like anything else.”
Coach Malano mentioned he’s appreciative for the buy in from administration and parents. Malano has been playing football his whole life, loves the game and looks forward to passing on what he can to younger players moving forward with the help of his other coaches.
“I really appreciate the support from the school and administration and the parents were really amazing, as well,” said Malano. “My coaching staff, Coach Jim Slaughter and Coach Leon Romero, the P.E. coach at Trinidad High, were both fantastic. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”