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Fall preview: Eagle football ready to launch

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Jason Farmer/News-Sun

The Hobbs football team enters year four of the Ken Stevens era and for the first time, everything has gone according to plan. The Eagles held their summer program and workouts with no issues, something that has not been able to happen the previous three years.

As the Eagles take the field this year, it will mark the first season where every player has learned and played under Steven’s program.

“We have very high expectations for the team this year,” Stevens said. “These are our guys. They have been with us for going on four years. These seniors have been in our program now going on their fourth year. They understand the expectations we have for them and they understand the way we want things done.”

“We have that chemistry and it feels like a family when you go out there,” Hobbs senior Andre Alvarado added. “The coaches, they have know us for the whole four years they have been here. When we were freshmen, the freshman coaches we implementing their defense and their offense to us. We know how to run it better than anybody has yet.”

The Eagles have a tough schedule this year. Of the 10 games on their schedule, eight made the playoffs last season. Six advanced to the quarterfinals, four made it all the way to the semifinals, and three were in the state championship game, with one winning it all.

“We like our schedule. It is a challenging schedule,” Stevens said. “I don’t know that we have what anyone would call an easy game. We want to be challenged and I think that is the way you get better and get prepared for district and even the playoffs.”

They will open up with back-to-back home games against Clovis and Artesia. Those will be followed by road trips to Roswell and Lovington before closing out the non-district schedule with a home game against Rio Rancho.

“I really believe that those five games are going to prepare us for a tough district,” the Eagles’ coach said. “Then, when we get into district, our district is one of the better districts. … I think our preseason sets us up for district and our district prepares us for the playoffs.”

Hobbs will have its bye the week of Sept. 23 and then start its district schedule during Week 7 at Las Cruces. Hobbs will host Centennial before traveling to Alamogordo, a new addition to the district this year. Hobbs will then return home to face Oñate before closing out the district schedule at Carlsbad at the end of October.

It’s a tough schedule and Alvarado is excited for it.

“I am excited to play the teams that the experts think we are going to lose to,” the senior said. “In the preseason rankings, they have us at 6-4. I am excited to see who these four teams they think we are going to lose to are.”

When the Eagles take to Watson Stadium Friday night, they will have a new field general this year with Omar Argott taking over as quarterback. Snapping the ball to Argott will be another new starter, Humberto Cadena. But there are several returning skill position players, including wide receivers Kaden Trevino and Ethan Vandlandingham and running back Diego Baeza.

Offensively, the Eagles have weapons, many in fact.

One of the top targets for the Eagles’ passing game will be Trevino. The senior enters his third season as a starter for the Eagles. He had 974 yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago as well as rushing for 188 yards and three more scores. Add in Trevino’s COVID-19 pandemic stats, and he has caught 66 passes for 1,141 yards with 14 touchdowns while rushing for 450 yards on 65 carries with seven more TDs.

On the ground, Baeza had 118 carries for 671 yards and seven scores. He also hauled in 22 receptios for 305 yards and another touchdown.

Vanlandingham had 32 receptions for 316 yards with three scores as a junior while Evan Ortega caught 12 pass and scored twice. Jeremiah Jaquez will be joining the offense this year and already has a relationship built with Argott as both played on the JV squad together last season.

Defensively, the Eagles will be looking for Alvarado, Kenyon Singleton, and Hector Armendariz to lead the way, but Stevens is also looking for Oliver Hill, Seth Rodriguez, and Boston Hatfield to make an impact on the defense.

Singleton finished with 73 solo tackles and a forced fumble. Armendariz had 67 solo tackles with eight being for a loss of yards. He forced two fumbles and picked off two passes, returning one of them, as well as a punt, for a touchdown. Alvarado had a sack and seven quarterback hurries as well as causing a fumble.

“We have a good number of starters back on both offense and defense,” Stevens said. “The thing that I am encouraged most about right now is our kids are not afraid of hard work. They have the right attitudes and we have good team chemistry and great senior leadership. Those are very important ingredients outside of talent that you need to have a successful season.”

The season begins on Friday night with Clovis making a trip to Hobbs for the first time since 2018. Stevens and the players are excited for the game and hope to see a packed house on opening night.

“I want to see the whole community come out,” the Eagles’ coach said. “It is the first time we (in Steven’s tenure) have got to host Clovis. It is a big rivalry game and we beat them last year. … I would really love to see the whole community come out and kickoff the season with a packed Watson Memorial Stadium and make it a very special, memorable night for our seniors.”

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