Magdalena sophomore Shane Montoya has been getting the majority of snaps at quarterback.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

With 16 players and a slew of talent lost to graduation, Magdalena football Coach Danny Daniels has his work cut out for him in the 2023 football season.

Perhaps worse yet, several vital players Daniels was expecting to come out this season have yet to commit, making it hard to plan offensive and defensive schemes.

The shrinking numbers are a worry after the Steers enjoyed two seasons with 26 and 21 players.

Aside from wondering if he’ll have enough players to be competitive for a district title, Daniels is also looking to replace quarterback Josh Baca in a year where he knows he will need to get the football in the air more.

Considering Baca tossed seven touchdowns in one game last year, things look like they are about to take flight for the Steers. Despite the fewer players planning to report, Daniels keeps his focus on what he does have.

“My job is to make sure that I’m here for the kids that are out,” Daniels said. “We’re going to pass a lot. We’re going to take advantage of the skills we have. We might even do some hurry-up on offense.”

That “might” will depend on who lands the job of signal caller for the Steers, and at the most recent summer practices, incoming sophomore Shane Montoya has been getting the majority of the snaps.

“We’re not big, so we’re looking at some misdirection stuff and hopefully take advantage of that,” Daniels said.

With a background in six-man football, misdirection schemes will run right up Daniels’ skill set, and with some dwindling numbers, there’s even been some talk in Magdalena about switching from 8-man to 6-man.

It will be hard for the Steers to compete for a district title when Lordsburg is their league. The Mavericks play at the 2A level in all other sports but have been allowed to play 1A football.

“We’ve got kids that hadn’t played in a while. We might have a few seniors, but some of them don’t have the experience we need because they haven’t played in two or three years,” Daniels said.

With some new passing schemes, Daniels’ defense will likely be well ahead of his offense. Still, he is looking to make some changes there, too.

“I would like to introduce a safety because passing defense is something we struggle with. We’re still teaching kids how to do that right now. The hard thing about doing stuff in the summer is basketball is reserved for June, and then July happens, and parents and kids are taking vacations,” Daniels said.

As he talks about the upcoming season, Daniels points to his quarterback.

“He’s going be one of our leaders. And he’s a young kid. He’s going to take up some responsibility now,” Daniels said.

Incoming junior Javen Tafoya should see a good deal of time at running back, and he also has good hands out of the backfield.

“Javen started for us and played a lot on defense, but he might have to do some offensive stuff. I come from a system where your boys must be able to play both sides and different positions,” Daniels said.

Daniels is expecting Krae Stephens to step into a leadership role on defense.

“He’s going to be the star on defense for us. He came for us big in several games last year,” Daniels said.

Regardless of the season’s outcome, Daniels doesn’t lose sight of why he coaches football.

“We’ll have a lot of fun out there, and that’s what we’re about. We were introduced to some of that last year, and I think we had a great season. We had a great postseason. We did a lot of good things. And I’m just hoping we’re an exciting team. I’m just excited to work with those boys.” Daniels said.