Magdalena’s Noah Guerro chases after a loose ball dropped by Fort Sumner quarterback Jayden Ward.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

There’s just no quit in the 2023 Magdalena Steers football team.

Down 44-0 with the first half clock waning, Magdalena tried everything to stop Fort Sumner/House from scoring a game-ending touchdown before halftime, but the Foxes got into the end zone with 13 ticks left.

“They (Fort Sumner) might have come thinking they don’t have to respect us, but we made them. They came here and knew there was another football team on the other side,” Steers coach Danny Daniels said.

It would have been easy for the Steers to call it a night without a struggle. The Foxes had tagged them with a 30-0 first quarter.

A fumble return for a touchdown had the Steers down 38-0 early in the second quarter, and it appeared the game would turn into a significant blowout before Magdalena began to figure out better ways to attack the Foxes’ offense.

Quarterback Shane Montoya was able to return the Foxes’ defense pressure with some of his own at defensive end, and Fort Sumner drew three straight holding penalties in the fourth quarter.

It was just a part of the Steers’ don’t-quit-mentality.

“We did that same thing at the junior high level, and that’s what we want. We want to teach our boys to compete and to make sure that they come out and give it all they have,” Daniels said. “We have got to grow up and learn the game. We’re still giving up things that we shouldn’t be giving up because we don’t know the rules.”

While Daniels didn’t point to any specifics, the Foxes gained possession of the football at the end of the game via an onside kick that Magdalena coaches assured their players was coming. The ball fell short of the 10-yard distance required but rolled into the Steers’ territory and became fair game for the Foxes to recover.

The Steers also missed out on a couple of fumble recoveries when the Foxes coughed up the ball on running plays.

It’s been no secret that Magdalena would struggle through the buzzsaw portion of its schedule: Melrose (4-1), Logan (3-2) and Fort Sumner (3-0). The Steers are young, and suit 18 players, and game experience comes one game at a time.

“We have to take advantage when we have opportunities presented to us, but we are improving and got through a hard stretch,” Daniels said.

Another “hard stretch” this week is the distractions that come with Magdalena’s 2023 homecoming game against Navajo Pine in a Thursday game set for 5 p.m.

“It’s so hard. I still go to homecoming. You know the kids want to have fun, and we have all kinds of events and stuff. But we must have structure and practice. It starts from there. I mean, boom, boom, boom, and we know we’re here to play football,” Daniels said.

The game will also let the Steers know where they will stand against district opponent Alamo Navajo which lost 66-38 against Navajo Pine.