Moriarty High School football players were running multiple drills on the team’s practice field Wednesday afternoon.

With players spilt up in groups, some coaches called out instructions.

“Ready—go! Get there, get there, GET THERE!” Pintos defensive coordinator Peter Romero said to one group on the southeast corner of the field.

Other coaches motivated players with inspirational expressions.

“Be the hammer, not the nail!” assistant coach Marcus Ortiz said to a group working in the middle of the field.

Moriarty’s two-a-day football practices kicked off this week as the Pintos prepare for the upcoming fall season, which is just two weeks away. It’s the first time in two years the team has held two-a-day practices in August.

“It’s good to see ‘em back out here this time of year, hopefully it’ll bring some normalcy,” Pintos head coach Gabe Romero said.

The two-a-days got underway Aug. 2 with morning sessions starting at 6:30, and afternoon sessions going from 3:30 to 5:30.

Wearing helmets, shoulder pads and green shorts, the players worked for two hours on Wednesday afternoon and wrapped up the practice with a series of 100-yard sprints the coaches call “gassers.”

“If you’re not tired, you’re not working hard enough,” Gabe Romero told the players, though all of them were noticeably winded.

Romero noted that the team was a little sluggish during Wednesday’s afternoon practice—a little drop off in energy from the first two days.

“I thought Monday and Tuesday we looked really good, we were flying around a lot. This morning we looked all right, but this afternoon we just looked like we were a step slower than we have been all week,” Romero said, adding that some of the players were starting to feel the effects of two-a-day practices, particularly the incoming freshman and the kids who have never played high school football before—about a third of the team at this point.

“It’s a big number,” Romero said regarding the 7 to 8 newcomers on the team. “Some of them have never been through two-a-days, they’re learning two-a-days are tough.”

Even returning players, like junior Erik “Gray” Wolf, who admitted he had “a bit of an off day” on Wednesday, said, “I think this year is a little harder, a little faster pace, there’s more running, conditioning, it’s a little hard to keep up—but it’s good, I’m ready for a game already.”

Running gassers at practice in Moriarty. Photos by Ger Demarest.

Romero said his newcomers are “a good group of hard-working kids” who are “coming along at a good pace,” and he also said he has a core of 8 to 10 returning players “who are solid.”

Despite many of the players running out of gas on Wednesday after their gassers, Romero said the bigger issue is the low number of overall players—only about 24 total—with a shortage of upperclassmen.

“We’re definitely not where I thought we’d be, I thought we’d be at 40 or 45 kids, so numbers being about half of that is definitely not good,” Romero said. He expects a few more players who have been out of town or were late to complete their physicals will show up soon.

The upcoming season, the first fall season since 2019, will comprise a regular 10-game schedule, barring no Covid setbacks. The Pintos played a Covid-postponed, shortened season last spring, with four games in March and a bowl game on April 1.

With the season kicking off Aug. 20 at West Las Vegas, Romero said his priority for the next two weeks will be to try and find more players and try to get to a point where the team can run its offense and defense.