Cards young but prolific on offensive end

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By Dave Kavanaugh

If they can recover from the loss of the entire starting defensive backfield, the Robertson Cardinals look to make a good run at the state boys’ soccer tournament come November.

The Cardinals’ offense certainly looks strong. Forward Henry Robertson, the second-leading scorer in the state in 2009, is back. So is another major scoring threat, Keen Martinez.

“Henry is a little faster and stronger this year,” said RHS head coach Clarence Montoya. “Keen is pretty versatile; he can play any number of positions. Both of those guys are hard to stop.”

Returning starters also include Aaron Padilla, who will move to sweeper, and Jalen Martinez. A solid junior class includes Antonio Torrez, Sean Lujan, Ben Ratzlaff and Darrel Brayfield. Brandon Maes and Brandon Trujillo also played last year.

“Brandon Trujillo might surprise some people,” Montoya said. Trujillo scored a couple of goals in a recent weekend scrimmage session against Cleveland, Belen and Valencia high schools. Notably, RHS was the smallest school in the round-robin scrimmages.

Speedster Charlie Armijo is back from injury and is expected to play a significant role on the retooled defense.

The Redbird defensive unit lost its four backs and dependable goalkeeper Clint Brayfield. But Montoya may have lucked out when Justin Bustos — a standout on the boys’ basketball team — agreed to go out for soccer. Tall, rangy and a good athlete, Bustos “looks like he’s going to work out” as the new goalkeeper, the coach said. “He’s got good reflexes — and long arms.”

“We have a solid starting team,” Montoya said. “Our depth is a question, and we might be a bit young.”

Interest has grown in the program, which brought home a district title in ‘09. The team is roughly 30 players strong — including the junior varsity — despite having lost seven seniors, two transfers and one injured player from a year ago.

Montoya said the squad will employ a 4-4-2 formation to start the season, which opens Saturday in Portales. Robertson’s home debut is set for Tuesday, Aug. 31, against Roswell.