With the first kickoff of the season right around the corner, a little sunshine this week was a welcome sight for the Moriarty High School football team.

The Pintos have been competing with the weather the past few weeks, as rain and lightning forced them to move several practices inside the school’s gym as they prepare for the upcoming campaign.

“We’ve gotten stuck inside a lot,” Moriarty head coach Gabe Romero said during an outdoor practice this week.

Like most other high schools, the Pintos are in the final stages of prepping for the prep football season that gets underway next week.

Moriarty kicks off its season Aug. 19 at home against Gallup. Mountainair, Estancia and Manzano start their seasons on the road, with Mountainair getting underway Aug. 18 at Jemez Valley. Manzano and Estancia get underway Aug. 20 at Mayfield-Las Cruces, and Texico, respectively.

Moriarty players working a handoff drill, during a Pintos practice, Aug. 9, 2022. Photo by Ger Demarest.

After getting their practices rolling with a week of two-a-days, the Pintos recently moved to one-a-day practices and spent the past week making some final tweaks with the hopes of putting a winning team on the field.

“I think we’re looking good, most of our practices have been pretty good,” Romero said. “I think we’re at a point where we’ve gotten a lot of stuff in, now we’ve gotta fine-tune some stuff.”

During the 2021 campaign, the Moriarty Pintos won their district and earned the No. 4 seed in the Class 4A state playoffs, where they made it to the state semifinals.

Despite losing several key starters to graduation, Romero is optimistic about this year’s squad.

“We have some holes to fill, but I think we’ve got kids that can fill those holes,” Romero said. “I think we’ve got players that can get the job done, we just gotta continue to improve, stay healthy, and I think we can make a good run.”

Both Moriarty and Estancia had scrimmages on Aug. 11. The Pintos scrimmaged at St. Michael’s in Santa Fe that day.

Estancia, a 2A school, hosted a four-team scrimmage at home—on their new turf field—that included Class 5A Belen, and 4A schools St. Pius and Valencia.

“We’re gonna find out a lot about ourselves this afternoon,” Estancia head coach Stewart Burnett said before the scrimmage

Burnett said the number of players he’s got this year is not as high as he’d like—fewer than 20 at present—but he likes what he’s seen from the group he has.

“Our quantity is low, but I do feel that our quality is very good,” Burnett said. “I feel like this group is very coachable—we’ve got a lot of good pieces.”

During the scrimmage the Bears ran three 10-play series against the other three schools and Burnett said he thought his team “Did a lot of stuff really well.”

“From an execution standpoint, I think we’re in a pretty good spot,” he said.

Estancia’s schedule is going to be tough, with three consecutive road games at the start of the season. The Bears first home game is Sept. 9.

“Our schedule is no friend of ours,” Burnett said. But he added that the goal is to be “worth a darn when it matters”—meaning the district matchups at the end of the regular season and the playoffs.