By Chris Schmaedeke, QCS managing editor
The season did not end the way the Tucumcari Rattlers football team hoped, but the season was still an overall success in coach Daniel Hutchins’ mind.
The Rattlers finished the season 5-6, 0-3 in district, and lost 48-17 in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs to Dexter on Friday. Tucumcari was able to improve by two games after finishing 3-8 last season in coach Hutchins’ second season.
“We averaged almost 410 yards of offense this season,” Hutchins said. “Our offense was pretty potent. We did struggle stopping the run all season.”
The Rattlers offense relied on speed and quickness and was full of athletes that were capable of breaking big plays at anytime. The offense was led by senior quarterback Alex Hutchins, one of only two seniors starters the Rattlers are losing.
“This season was much better than last,” Alex Hutchins said. “It is not fun to have to leave this team.”
With only four seniors on the roster, Tucumcari was young and sometimes inexperienced on the field. Coach Hutchins saw the youth on his roster as a bad thing at times but also knows it bodes well for his team’s future.
“Our inexperience got to us at times,” Coach Hutchins said. “The youth we have will also help us build depth for future teams.”
“I feel good about next year,” sophomore running back George Montano said. “We get to have most of our starters back on both sides of the ball.”
Along with quarterback Alex Hutchins, the Rattlers will lose running back Lucas Benavidez to graduation. Coach Hutchins feels his team will be able to make up for the loss.
“Someone will have to step it out but I think we have the athletes to do it,” Coach Hutchins said.
The Rattlers will have Jakus Martinez, Cameron Montano, David Pacheco, Dalton Wood and Travis Garcia, who were all contributors to this year’s team, coming back next year and lead Coach Hutchins’ high-powered wildcat offense.
Coach Hutchins said he felt the Rattlers’ tough schedule made them a better team and gave them plenty of big-game experience. Tucumcari also played in one of the tougher districts with Santa Rosa, Texico and Estancia. All three are still alive in the Class 2A playoffs. Tucumcari also played every team in playoff foe Dexter’s district and the Rattlers beat all four teams.
“We did not have a lot of district success,” Coach Hutchins said. “Those games made us tough as nails though. We have no off nights and no soft schools on our schedule.”
“No matter how far we fell behind I felt we could come back,” George Montano said. “This team never gave up.”