Last season, the Aztec Tigers came up just short of their goal to win a 4A state championship. This upcoming season for Aztec, some of the players will have changed but not the goal. With numerous returnees, the Tigers have a legit shot at the title.
Aztec, a team that has averaged over 45 points a game the last two seasons, returns junior QB Brycson King. Last year, as a sophomore, King erased any concerns about the well being of the Tiger offense as he ran the spread offense to perfection passing for over 4,000 yards and 50 scores on the way to an All-State season. Although key offensive weapons have graduated, including running back Mike Hathcock and receivers Jermaine Gerter, Trev Hammargren and Derrick Williamson, plenty of potential weapons return. Topping the list of playmakers is speedster Jake Espinoza. Espinoza, one of the top sprinters in New Mexico, hauled in over 50 catches last season and should improve on that number now that he is King's go to guy. Espinoza also averaged over seven yards per touch as a ball carrier. Replacing Hathcock, who rushed for 2,000 plus yards will be no easy task, but talented Justin Watkins looks primed to try. Also look for Jordan Lucero and Mike Cala to get touches. This group of skill players will get time to gel as they work behind an offensive line that returns two of the state's best. All-State linemen Zach Hegarty and Zach Frohn are back.
The Tiger defense held strong last year in support of the wide open offense as they surrendered fewer than 20 points a game. Hank Strauss and Jordan Lucero are a playmaking linebacker duo that will anchor the D. Man child Dustin Baker, only a sophomore, holds the fort up front in the trenches with support from Zane Clampett. Good luck running the ball against this duo that weighs a combined 560 pounds!
On paper, Aztec is loaded and frighteningly young. Aztec's success, over the past seasons is common place for the Tigers and all this year's crop of players know about winning. Last season's four point loss in the championship will only make these young Tigers hungrier for a shot at a title.