Socorro’s Ruben Archuleta has been on the Warriors’ sidelines for 38 years.
Russell Huffman| El Defensor Chieftain

After 38 years of enjoying one of the best “seats” in Warriors Stadium, Socorro’s Ruben Archuleta is set to take a track-side chair as he retires from the football chain gang.

“I started in 1985,” Archuleta said. “It was after my son graduated.”

A bit of dedication is involved with being a long-time member of the first-down crew, but Archuleta quickly found out there are few better places to watch a football game.

“It was so different to me. It’s such a different atmosphere. I mean, it’s the best seat in the house,” Archuleta said.

When he first started working on the chain gang, it was because nobody else had stepped forward to help, and the 1985 crew had been marking more passing years than first downs.

“At that time, there were a lot of older people on the chain gang, and nobody seemed to want to do it. So, I got involved, and I loved it. Being able to see the game straight on the field was so different,” Archuleta said.

The sideline also offers a number of challenges for chain gang members who have to make their way through coaches and their teams, the officials going back and forth, team managers and the media. Weaving through all those people can be difficult and, at times, dangerous.

“I’ve been hit pretty hard twice. Once in a game against Bernalillo by the players and another time against Santa Fe, I got run over by a coach,” Archuleta said. “I was in the coach’s way. It’s part of the game.”

While he’s stepping down this season, Archuleta still plans to make it to all the home football games, and there’s a chair ready for him track-side, but that’s not going to happen until the Warriors finish their season.

“The chain gang is the place to be, especially if you don’t have your own kids playing, because you can get emotional when it’s your kid playing out there and you are so close to the game,” he said.

For Archuleta, the “big” game that stands out in his mind came in the championship game in 1977 when the Warriors beat Academy on a long field goal to win by three points. (Get more information from the archives)

Archuleta has also seen some changes over the years.

“We don’t have as much fan participation as we have had in the past, and the respect for the referees isn’t like it used to be in the past,” Archuleta said.