By Maria Schmitt
During Tucumcari’s Homecoming game Friday night, Rattler Matt Pacheco was named honorary team captain and all of the coaching staff wore shirts with Pacheco’s number 73.
Pacheco, who was playing offensive guard, was injured in the fourth quarter of a football game on Sept. 19 against the captain Tigers.
“I am still kind of sad that I can’t play,” Matt Pacheco said.
That night about two weeks ago, Pacheco was taken from the captain field and transported to the hospital in Ruidoso. Rattlers assistant coaches Donnie Garcia and Eddie Encinias rode with him in the ambulance and stayed at his bedside until his parents arrived from Tucumcari.
“It was such a long trip for us to get there,” said his mom Deanna Pacheco. “It was comforting to know that they were there with him. They said it was their job but I feel they went above and beyond what was expected of them.”
Matt Pacheco received an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season. “Explaining to Matt why he could not risk playing football again this year was difficult. Coach Daniel Hutchins talked to Matt about the dangers of getting back on the field before he was ready,” Deanna Pacheco said.
“It has been a stressful time, but I feel that I have gained seven more dads, 32 brothers, and four sisters and they are there for me through thick and thin.” Matt Pacheco said it felt great to be named honorary team captain.
Although he could not play and is on the bench, he stepped in on Friday to help a hurt player. Lucas Benavidez hurt his ankle during Friday’s game and Matt Pacheco helped him off of the field.
He is happy that he can still travel and be there with them. “The Rattler team is my family away from home.”
Thomas Garcia of Freedom New Mexico contributed to this report.