The Raton Tigers staff and fans traveled down to Socorro sporting Game of Thrones themed t-shirts titled ‘We Are The North’. The Warriors responded by saying ‘Your Watch Has Ended’, winning 55-7.
After a big week two letdown the boys were pumped coming out of the locker room for the first home game of the season with the stands on the home team side packed. They were coming off a low scoring deflate style loss in week two against Tularosa 9-7.
“We protected the ball very well tonight,” Head Coach Damien Ocampo said. “Our O-Line played a really good game. We were very consistent in spreading the ball all over the place which kept Raton guessing. Basically we made them defend the whole field.”
Socorro’s defense got things going early with a crushing gang tackle that turned into a fumble recovery by Senior Maxamus Jaramillo. That resulted in a quick swing score on the right by Junior Michael Mcdaniel. A hungry Mcdaniel had his way with the opposing defense in the ground game, looking like a man amongst boys as the Tigers defense had no response.
“It comes down to work every day,” McDaniel said. “Work in the weight room and work out here. I had fun and kept my head in the game out here tonight and just played me. We’re looking for a championship this year.”
Raton freshman running back Cayden Walton was very slippery to tackle on the next possession, getting them into enemy territory but Socorro’s defensive held them from breaking the red zone. The Warriors were then stalled and looked stagnant as it was 6-0 at the end of one.
Frustration began to set in with an offsides penalty that had Ocampo arguing with the refs. A timeout had Ocampo lighting a fire, yelling in the huddle “If you got a job to do out there then do it!”. And then the Warriors were off to the races and never looked back.
After a stuff by the defense near the goal line, McDaniel had a 90 plus yard run as he was just barreling people over Ezekiel Elliot style. At 12-0 in the middle of the second, the Warriors special teams tried to get tricky with an onside kick by Sophomore Josh Walsh. It did not go according to plan but their defense bailed them out.
Quarterback Payson Hicks was hesitant with his decision making early in the game before getting into a flow that the Tigers could not counter. QB keepers, pitch plays and short touch passes lead to long yardage.
Raton finally punched it in with a keeper by sophomore quarterback Dylan Quartieri with 45 seconds left before half. McDaniel came right back with a kick return to leave things 34-7 when both teams hit the locker rooms.
With the game out of reach, younger players were being subbed in for needed experience down the road. A tricky moment came when sophomore Adadrian Jackson threw a ‘Philly Special’ to Hicks for the game ending touchdown.
“At Tularosa we had a big look in the mirror to ourselves,” Hicks said. “This week of practice was all attitude. I did my job out there today which is what the coaches ask us to do. We’ve got to keep this game in our back pocket but also humble ourselves because we’ve got a lot of tough opponents ahead of us.”
Part of both pregame and halftime festivities, Coach Alex Johnson was excited to be able to host the first Warriors home game as athletic director.
“There were so many people here tonight,” he said. “The fans here in Socorro are amazing. For me there are all of these amazing people behind the scenes that make a night like this work and it was great to get out there and coach tonight. This is an awesome feeling that can’t be described easily. When the players get out and enjoy the game then it makes it fun for us on the sidelines.”
Socorro will take in an early season bye week as they prepare for a September 20 home showdown against the Robertson Cardinals, who are currently undefeated and ranked first in the 3A District 2 standings. Socorro is neck and neck with Cobre in District 3 standings with both teams having one loss.