With temperatures reaching close to 100 degrees, a dedicated group of Socorro football players are sweating out summer workouts with the start of the season just a couple of months away.

“They’re going pretty good, but we are missing some key kids right now,” said coach Damien Ocampo. “Hopefully we’ll get them to start showing up soon. We do have 30-40 kids every day and a lot of young kids who are good, but we definitely need to round up all the others.”

The Warriors, who reached the Class 3A state semifinals last season, will be returning about half their starters on both sides of the ball, the coach said.

But Socorro has some big cleats to fill this season.

“We had the best tailback in the state and the best receiver in the state, and we graduated some of the best linemen in the state, so we have our work cut out for us to fill those spots,” Ocampo said.

On the bright side, he said, returning senior quarterback Marcus Armijo (5-foot, 10-inch­es, 165 pounds) will enter his third season as a starter.

“I think he’s going to be the best quarterback in the state com­ing back, so I’m really excited about him,” Ocampo said. “He’s a heck of a ballplayer.”

Like his brother Jordan Armijo, who is running track in college, Marcus Armijo can scorch the field. But he’s also been working on throwing.

“It’s great because he’s such a threat, a dual-threat,” Ocampo said. “He can run the ball and throw the ball. He’s already improved so much skill-wise from last year to this year. He’s been working hard on his throwing technique. And he was already one of the top threats with his feet, so we’re really excited about him.”

The team’s linebacking crew is another area that has Ocampo quite excited, with four veteran leaders who will help the less-experienced players gain ground.

The crew is led by All-State selections Caden Moreland (6-2, 195) and Brian Armijo (5-9, 175). Garrick Gutierrez (5-10, 170) and Warren Kurtnaker (5-11, 190) round out the group that should be the first priority for every opposing offensive coordinator to neutralize.

“All of those guys are great ballplayers,” Ocampo said. “They would play for anybody in the state. We’ve got to lean on them. They’re going to give people fits.”

They all possess similar attri­butes, he said.

“Speed, quickness, tough­ness,” Ocampo said.

The Warriors have a few other players sprinkled across the field the coach also is counting on to fill some roles.

“We have a couple of linemen who are going to be good,” he said. “Most of them have been starting for multiple years. They’re winners and they want to win, and I know they’ll lead us forward.”

Although the playoff was bitter, the returning players grew from the experience, Ocampo said.

“Our kids know they can play with them, and they’re going to be the No. 1 team because they didn’t graduate that many people, so they’ll be right back in the thick of it,” he said. “We’re going to have to improve a ton to get back there.” But that is exactly what Ocampo sees the Warriors doing.

“I expect us to keep getting better,” he said. “I expect us to be physical, tough and very ready by the time district comes around. We have to play good, hard-nosed foot­ball and take care of the ball and do the things other teams aren’t.”

In other words, a pretty typi­cal Socorro team.

“We have some solid players across the board, and I kind of expected that, so there have been no surprises for me,” Ocampo said. “I know which kids are floating around and we’ve been getting better all spring. We have some new faces, new names who will be great ballplayers and fans will be able to meet Game 1.”

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