No predictions, but the The Tigers look like a very good football team. Season opener slated for Aug. 25 at St. Mike's.
What does ambition sound like?
Ambition is the sound of roosters crowing and dogs barking in the dark distance.
It's the sound of melodic bells from Our Lady of Guadalupe church filling the valley with six chimes and the solitary hum of a delivery truck on a nearby road.
It's the sound of three dozen pairs of cleats clacking in quick tempo on the sidewalk and echoing off the lighted wall of Taos High School as players make their way to a dewy Anaya Stadium.
It is the muffled sound of vocal chords stretched to their limit but still straining to make a point.
What does ambition look like?
It is the unusual sight of lit stadium lights in the morning, casting a dome of white in the pre-dawn blackness that can be seen for miles. Ambition is a heavy steam that wafts off the sweaty heads when players' helmets are removed, and they take a knee at the conclusion of a tough workout.
It is 33 sets of hungry eyes that are fixed on the source of those overwrought vocal chords. It is the sight of winded football players nonetheless sprinting to the locker room to get a shower before the start of class. After all, it is the first day of school.
Collectively, the Taos Tigers football team looks like they are chasing something. Veterans and underclassmen alike are all in as they as they run hard and challenge each other in hitting drills.
It also looks like players are enjoying themselves on the football field. And it doesn't appear to bother them that their first day of practice in full pads is done at 6 o'clock in the morning--barely 12 hours after the conclusion of the previous day's practice. The full-speed effort is noticeable, and inspiring.
Lifelong observers of sport, such as trainers, coaches, reporters, pundits and sports psychologists, acknowledge the difficulty in preparing athletes for competition. So many things must come together before goals can be set and ultimately realized. Getting athletes in "the zone" is not an easy thing to achieve, but it sure is noticeable when they find it inside themselves.
Given these cues about readiness, ambition, enjoyment and how loose the Tigers are during practice might serve as an unscientific predictor about how well they'll perform in competition. And without making a specific prediction, it is noted and declared that Taos has a very good football team.
Give me speed
Another observation: the Tigers look sleek and fast. The offensive and defensive lines are still stout but much more agile and mobile compared to a year ago.
This will work well for Abreu who intends on closing gaps on defense and lowering the number of big plays made against Taos. Opposing teams with mobile quarterbacks have been a problem area for Abreu's teams in the past, but quickness on the line and in the backfield should help with containment this year.
No longer in the same league with Robertson and West Las Vegas, Taos will have to contend with larger teams such as St. Pius, Española Valley and Grants. Speed might be the great equalizer if not the deciding factor in the district.
Returning to the backfield for the Tigers is senior running back, Jonathan Garcia who rushed for 1,600 yards last year and is poised to repeat this mark. Garcia will be taking hand-offs from Justin Good who takes over at quarterback from Jude Suazo.
According to the preseason roster, 29 athletes are listed, down about a dozen from a year ago. And while it is not known if this is a concern for coaches, the team as a whole looks sharp with this number of players.
Room for improvement
Taos is entering a new era with realignment taking effect this year. And though it might mean more work and a more difficult path to the ultimate goal, the Tigers seem ready to tackle this new challenge straight on. The football program has shown improvement every year under the guidance of Abreu, but the finish work continues.
Playing football in December has always been, and still is, a goal of the determined skipper. Still no predictions, but I will repeat myself. Taos has a really good football team.