Man with a plan
Marquez has championship mentality
For Reyes Marquez, feeling blue is a good thing.
At least it is when he’s clutching a blue trophy.
That’s a feeling Marquez likes, one he has had two Novembers in a row now, the feeling of the blue state championship trophy in his grasp. Last year, while still head coach of the Lovington boys soccer team, Marquez and his staff guided the Wildcats to the program’s first state title. This past Saturday, Marquez ended his first season as Hobbs boys head soccer coach with another blue trophy in his hands, this time for 5A instead of 4A.
And this time Marquez had led the Eagles to their program’s first state championship since 1997, their second state title ever. It was an undefeated 23-0 season to ice the cake.
Coincidence? Nope. The stars aligning two years in a row? Nah. Marquez and his staffs have been the driving forces behind both championships. Marquez was certainly instrumental in the Eagles’ state crown this year, to hear his players tell it.
“A very big impact,” Hobbs senior striker/midfielder Eliud Hernandez said, minutes after knocking home the decisive penalty kick that delivered a championship-game win over Atrisco Heritage on Saturday at the University of New Mexico Track & Field and Soccer Complex in Albuquerque. “He made me more confident, and if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here right now. He made us believe in ourselves, he made us feel more confident in ourselves. That’s what really helped me a lot.”
“I want to thank Coach Marquez for coming down to Hobbs and stepping up to be our coach,” said Eagles senior midfielder Jorge Martinez, who scored his team’s lone goal in regulation Saturday night. “He’s an excellent coach, excellent coach. He taught us a lot of things that we didn’t know, and that’s the reason we’re champions right now.”
Marquez taught Martinez something specific that helped the senior get his crucial goal – the game-tying goal – on Saturday night. Martinez scored it with a header off teammate Juan Camacho’s corner kick late in the first half.
“First of all, he showed us the air game, which was balls in the air,” Martinez said. “That’s the reason why most of my goals (this season) were headers; he taught us about playing balls in the air, and that’s the reason why my goal (on Saturday) went in, him teaching me the air game.”
“He boosted our confidence a lot,” Hobbs junior goalie Diego Castanon said after Saturday’s victory. “He made us think big things in life and in the game of soccer.”
Castanon recalled Marquez telling the Eagles exactly where he envisioned them being by this point in November.
“That’s the first thing he said when he came in, that we were going to win state,” Castanon said, “that we were too big of a powerhouse to not win state. And that just boosted our confidence a lot more.”
“A lot of it was because of him,” Eagles senior striker/defender Omari Patton said after Saturday’s game. “Because he made us focus on our goal.”
“He’s had a major impact,” Hobbs sophomore defender Fabian Astorga said after Saturday’s win. “When he first came in, he lit up the room instantly. He changed everything around, made everything more positive. He set the standard very high.
“He’s the best coach in the state,” Astorga added.
After the players heaped praise on Marquez Saturday night, he returned the favor.
“These guys,” he said, “they fought all year long. This was a complete team throughout the entire year.”
Marquez prides himself on being able to light fires under the teams he coaches. He doesn’t coach just for giggles, he wants to help players achieve lofty ambitions. But parting ways with Lovington after 26 years in that school district wasn’t an easy decision. Marquez just felt it was time for a change, time for a new challenge.
Coming in and taking on that challenge, motivating the Hobbs players to reach their goal, was satisfying for Marquez after the Eagles’ perfect championship season became official on Saturday night.
“It’s special for the community, it’s special for the school,” Marquez said. “It’s special for the administration that took a chance and picked up the phone and made a phone call. They could’ve made a phone call somewhere else, but the reality is, they dialed my number. And now I’m very proud, I’m glad we were able to deliver for them.”
And soon enough, it will be time for another mix of Hobbs players to pursue another goal – repeat in 2024.
“I’m probably going to enjoy this for a while,” Marquez said. “But our jayvee, they only lost two games. We’re loaded, we’re loaded. And we’re going to make a run at it.”
While next year’s team goes after greatness, the 2023 Hobbs Eagles will still have something to savor.
“Forever,” Patton said, “forever.”