A midsummer 7-on-7 evening football camp on July 10 at Los Lunas High School between the Tigers and the Socorro Warriors was cut short due to a fight breaking out on the field.
It was hard to tell from the sidelines how the scuffle started, however, Warriors junior Nathaniel Fresquez was in the thick of the scrum.
“While getting ready for the next down I heard one of our players getting harassed verbally,” he said. “Obviously our team came right back at them and we quickly started exchanging punches on both sides before the coaches and other teammates got in there. The player on our side and their (Los Lunas) side were clearly heated the whole practice so I don’t know who threw the first blow. But we always protect our teammates and hopefully can learn from these mistakes and be smarter as a group moving forward.”
Because it was scrimmage, coaches were on the field around the 50-yard line and able to break up the potential brawl quickly.
Offensive coordinator Luis Calzada was among the first from Socorro’s side in there with Tigers coaching staff immediately sending their team to the locker room after everyone was separated.
Tensions were also felt with verbal arguments in the stands and the parking lot between opposing team family members as well, but no physical altercations occurred.
Head Coach Damien Ocampo and his fellow coaches sat the team down in the same area in which the scuffle took place to lecture them on sportsmanship before the Warriors left quickly to relieve tension with the Tigers still in the lockers.
“All I know is that two of the guys were getting chippy – normal stuff with football,” Ocampo said. “Then the next thing I know I looked up and saw one of their guys punch one of our players in the back of the head. A bit of a melee happened but fortunately we were able to end it fast. My calf was injured so I couldn’t get in their quickly enough to see exactly what transpired. Sometimes this stuff happens and it’s unfortunate but thankfully nobody got seriously injured.”
According to Assistant Coach and SHS Athletic Director Alex Johnson any type of disciplinary action will take place internally with the team. He did release a brief statement Thursday morning.
“The coaches and myself were extremely proud of the way our boys handled the situation. Most of our players were working to break it up and hold one another back. No one was looking for a fight. They just want to play football,” the statement read.
The camp was put together by Ocampo and Tigers Head Coach Jeremy Maupin. It was intended to be a test for the 2018 division winning one loss 3A Warriors to face off against a 5A classified program.
“I had talked with coach Ocampo about making this happen,” Maupin said. “We wanted to get together and compete at some point so we were able to set this up. Socorro is just down the road and one of the closest teams not in our district so we felt it would be a good test to see unfamiliar players.”
Maupin, however, declined to comment on Wednesday night’s incident but did confirm punishment had been addressed internally.
Both varsity and JV groups were given the opportunity to hit the field as teams were given ten plays on offense to make it to the end zone from around the fifty yard line. Both offensive and defensive coaches had the chance to experiment with unique packages and lineups during the non-tackle matchup.
“On the field I think we looked great,” Ocampo said. “This Los Lunas team is a preseason favorite to win state, two classes above us. It was great to go up against Coach Mauldin. They have a great program here and our kids weren’t afraid of the challenge. We still have plenty of work to do as far as technique and supporting each other schematically. But from what I saw this is a strong group. They made all the right decisions and wrong mistakes at this point in training camp.”
Regular practice continues throughout the week at SHS with padded practice beginning in August. The team schedule is still being finalized. As of press time they will kick things off Aug. 23 on the road against the Thoreau Hawks.