Cenyon Scarbrough applies a stiff arm to deflect a tackler on the way to a touchdown.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Early this summer, Socorro head football coach Damien Ocampo said he believed his team had a couple of quarterbacks that could lead his Warriors to victory, and he was proven right in scrimmage action on Aug. 9

Class 3A Socorro beat Espanola’s Class 4A Sundevils by a 4-3 margin, but there’s still lots of work to do if the Warriors hope to win a fifth-consecutive District 3-3A title.

The Warriors established a 4-1 lead over the Sundevils before Espanola powered back with scores in scripted short-yardage situations from five yards out.

Before all that happened, the Warriors were a little jittery on their first offensive possession, and while Socorro moved the ball well on the ground and through the air, it didn’t reach the end zone with first-team quarterback Isaiah Ocampo.

Espanola didn’t fare any better on its first possession, with its most significant gains coming off plays that broke down either through good defensive coverage or the Sundevils’ miscues. The miscues caught the Warriors off guard, and more than anything, a lack of communication between Warrior defenders extended the action.

Quarterback Isaiah Ocampo scans the field behind Cenyon Scarborough’s blocking.

A broken pass play gave Espanola its one early score when the quarterback managed to find a seam from 10 yards out, but it was the only sustained drive the Sundevils managed to pop into the end zone.

One of the biggest questions in the offseason for the Warriors has been who can step up to support wide receiver Alex Amaro who led the team with 36 receptions and a touchdown for every five catches he had.

There are several candidates, including junior Andrew Handrich and sophomores Jacob Angel and Jay Lee, and freshman JoJo Barba. Angel and Barba both came up with touchdowns against the Sundevils, and Lee and Handrich are proving they can make possession-receiver catches in heavy traffic.

Cenyon Scarborough lined up as the starting running back alongside Ocampo, and the two players are also those “couple of quarterbacks” their coach mentioned when it came to leading his team to victory.

Both athletes bring unique skill sets to football, and while one may have the edge over the other in some areas, they aren’t so far apart. Socorro would need more help moving the ball and scoring.

As Socorro’s coaching staff adjusted and demanded better communication between players, Espanola couldn’t find the end zone on its second offensive possession.

Scarborough was the one who finally broke the Sundevils’ defense dam with a breakaway 35-yard gallop through the ride side of Espanola’s defense before he hit Barba with a 12-yard scoring pass.

Not to be outdone, Ocampo generated scores against the Sundevils’ first-team defense and hit Jacob Angel with a scoring pass and he also ran for a second touchdown.

Socorro’s biggest problem is a need for varsity experience when digging into the bench, and the Warriors will field a team with seven freshmen. The problematic number for the future is only four sophomores on the team now.

Socorro has the advantage of kickoff at home to start the season (Aug. 17 at 6 p.m.), and the disadvantage of doing it against No. 1 ranked Roberston, which went 8-3 last season and returns several key players.

The Warriors will also need to develop their road game because this year, their two final matchups will be on the road.

Coach Damien Ocampo leads Socorro and Espanola in the Lord’s Prayer.