A week before the start of the high school football season, Moriarty’s head coach Joe Anaya said his young team would experience some growing pains.

The coach couldn’t have been more predictive.

The Pintos fell 35-14 in their season opener to the visiting West Las Vegas Dons,

and Anaya’s postgame message was clear: “We’ve gotta be tougher,” Anaya told his players, “We’ve GOT to be tougher.”

The Pintos (0-1) surrendered five touchdowns during their Aug. 24 defeat to the Dons (1-0). They also sustained several injuries.

A handful of Pintos were helped off the field throughout the game, particularly in the second half, and though some of the banged-up players returned, others stayed on the bench icing their injuries.

Justin Carmona icing his injured leg during the second half. Photo by G. Demarest.

The Dons built a 14-0 first-half lead before the Pintos got their offense on track.  Xavier Romero’s short plunge into the end zone capped a Moriarty drive in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 14-7 at halftime.

Romero led the Pintos’ ground game with 113 yards on 16 carries.

The Dons added three unanswered second-half TDs—one on a defensive interception—to increase their lead to 35-7.

The interception derailed what had been a promising Pintos drive that started at their own 30-yard line.

The Pintos marched downfield and were facing a third-and-goal from the Dons 3-yard line, when Moriarty quarterback Bryan Wright attempted a pass that was deflected into the hands of a Dons defender who returned it 90 yards for the TD.

Moriarty’s Pete Sandoval scored the Pintos’ second TD on a 12-yard run with 2:33 remaining in the game. He netted 96 yards rushing on 13 carries.

“We came in spurts,” Anaya said of Moriarty’s offensive production, adding, “And we sputtered in spots.”

Anaya noted the Pintos need to work on handling adversity, from injuries to giving up big gains by their opponents.

“When the big play went against us we didn’t do very well tonight,” he said.

But Anaya’s main point of emphasis was his team’s lack of toughness.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on toughness—Moriarty Pintos toughness—and we didn’t show that tonight,” Anaya said. “We’ve got to get that back.”

The Pintos host the Class 5A Santa Fe Demons Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.