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Cardinals 'a whole different team'

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By Dave Kavanaugh

A full offseason program — and a preseason uncomplicated by the troubles that befell last year’s team — have apparently made a major difference for the Robertson High football team.

“We’re a whole different team from last year,” says RHS head coach Richard Martinez.

Most of the players who took the field last fall are back, of course. But with stability back in the program, the optimism has returned to Cardinal country.

“It’s been nice,” Martinez says. “Our numbers are back up. We’ve got about 56 players. That was my goal, to get the numbers up again. Last year we had about 35 to 38.”

That this coaching staff had ample time to instruct in the offseason is another advantage over last year. “We’ve finally got more timing down,” he notes.

In Robertson’s opener last week at defending state champion Portales, the Cardinals came within a 2-point conversion of a huge upset in a 42-41 final.

The Redbirds’ offensive production combined with that of 2008 state semifinalist Lovington earned this week’s RHS-Lovington matchup mention as one of the top five games to watch as rated by NM Preps.com.

Martinez credits the new-look offensive line, including center Jared Wyche, guards Estevan Baca and Jon Pino and tackles Justin Madrid and Isaac Santa Cruz, for a strong start.

“It's whole new line, and they did a pretty good job,” the coach says.

The skill positions include quarterback Daniel Martinez, tight end Fabian Montoya, and wideouts Luis Lopez, David Coca and Girard Maestas.

The backfield features the running back-by-committee rotation of Dalan Abreu, Nick Archuleta, Jon Lucero and Antonio Arguello, who’ll likely play fullback.

“They’ve all done pretty well,” Martinez says. “Our intention is to use them all.”

The defense, a base 4-3, is not set, with plenty of rotating planned in the early going. The line includes Aaron Archuleta, Sam Marquez, Estevan Baca, Brandon Baca and Isaiah Melton.  Linebackers are Daniel Martinez, Arguello, Pino, and Montoya. The secondary mix includes Coca, Josh Brito, Lopez, Aragon and safeties Abreu and Maestas.

In the Portales game, Daniel Martinez was a scrambling and option threat, rushing the ball 22 times for 129 yards and three scores and passing 6 for 11 for 93 yards and a TD. Montoya caught four balls for 39 yards; Coca and Arguello each had a reception, the latter for a touchdown.

Abreu ran the ball 10 times for 68 yards, Lucero nine times for 45 yards and a TD.

Abreu, Arguello and Brito each picked off a Ram pass. Martinez had five solo tackles, two assists and three pass break-ups. Arguello three solo stops and three assists. Other leading tacklers include Abreu, Marquez and Coca.