When building up a program, it takes some time to implement a new system. That’s what head coach Marcus Graham found in his first year as Socorro. The former Burges coach made the jump to 6A and found District 1-6A to be quite a challenge, going 0-10 in his first season.
Graham also inherited a very young team and will have many key skill positions back for next year, which will help turn the Bulldogs into more of a run-first team. In his introduction as the Bulldogs head coach last year, Graham said that his team was “going to work hard to have success again and make it back to the playoffs.”
Socorro should see some improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 of the Marcus Graham era. How much they improve will soon be seen.
QB Daniel Monarrez, OL/DT Jaziel Ortiz, DL Cristian Carrasco
Daniel Monarrez was the primary starting quarterback last season along with the Bulldogs along with fellow senior Carlos Dominguez. Dominguez also served as the team’s punter and he’ll have to be replaced as well.
The Bulldogs’ strength was up front. Jaziel Ortiz was selected for the Greater El Paso Senior Showcase at the end of the season while Carrasco was a force that teams had to deal with up front. The run defense was pretty solid last year for the Bulldogs and Carrasco was a big part of it. If the Bulldogs are going to be better in 2017, they’ll have to replace those two up front.
QB Jacob Luna, RB/WR Matthew Chavez, RB Nicholas Reyes, OL/DT Blue De La Cruz
A third quarterback entered the mix last year in sophomore Jacob Luna. He made two starts last year and is projected to be the starter heading into next year. While the offense isn’t designed to have the quarterback as the primary runner, Luna’s speed gives Graham a nice option out of the backfield.
The running game will most likely revolve around two runners who saw good chunks of playing time in 2016. Nicholas Reyes is the traditional run-between-the tackles that showed a lot of power and toughness. He was Socorro’s leading rusher this past season.
Meanwhile, Matthew Chavez could be an x-factor for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs like to implement him in space as a runner and as a receiver and is a guy that can line up in multiple positions on the field. Chavez’s speed and versatility could prove to be very useful, especially against the fast defenses in 1-6A.
If the Bulldogs want to continue to build their strength up front, Blue De La Cruz could be a good replacement for Carrasco and Ortiz. Whether he lines up more on offense or defense, he’ll be expected to carry a bigger role next season.
As the players become more comfortable in Graham’s system, they should be able to play better in Year 2. The Bulldogs will have more experience, but they will still have the gauntlet of District 1-6A to go through. I think they’ll be better off, but it might be more of a challenge to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2002.
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