Socorro Warriors take the field in their first game of the season Friday night against Pojoaque Valley. The Warriors forced four turnovers en route to a 50-0 win.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

It didn’t take long for Socorro to show that it was going to be another explosive year on the gridiron.

The Warriors smoked Class 4A Pojoaque Valley at home Friday in the season opener, forcing four turnovers en route to 50-0 win that ended in the third quarter on the mercy rule.

“It was a way to rebound because in the (pre-season) scrimmage (against Española Valley) we struggled in a lot of ways,” coach Damien Ocampo said. “So I’m pretty happy with the kids and the way they responded and hopefully we can continue to grow.”

Quarterback Marcus Armijo threw for three touchdowns and ran for another while completing 7-of-11 passes for 141 yards.

Brian Armijo ran for 64 yards and had three scores. Alex Amaro, Caden Moreland and Damien Greenwood each caught a touchdown pass.

“I feel like we on offense, up front, we played a lot better than we played in the scrimmage and that’s how we’re growing a little bit,” Ocampo said. “I think the skills guys did a pretty good job all the way around. The quarterback play was pretty good. The receivers blocked down field and all that added up and gave the offense outcome a boost.”

Ocampo was looking for a solid mix of strong running and solid passing and got what he was seeking.

“Our goal is to be balanced,” he said. “And balanced doesn’t necessarily mean a 50-50 split. It means when you need to pass you can pass and when you need to run you can run.”

What also helped was the defense smothered the Elks repeatedly.

The Warriors allowed just three first downs, had six tackles behind the line of scrimmage and, coupled with the turnovers — four forced fumbles that resulted in three turnovers and a safety, as well as an interception — the offense was consistently given short fields to start its drives.

Still, Ocampo wants to see more from what he considers the team’s strength.

“Defensively, we have a lot to improve on,” he said. “For the most part though, they played solid. Team-wise on defense, took steps toward being a pretty good defense. I don’t think we’re there, but we need to keep improving.”

Nevertheless, the defense’s success was a key to the game as the offense piled up seven touchdowns despite totaling just 290 yards.

“The D-line led the way for us on defense,” Ocampo said. “I think our whole defensive line played great: Junior Gutierrez, a sophomore who I believe is one of the best linemen in the state, Xamien Aguilar and Damien Greenwood. Nathaniel Nuñez is another one.”

Gutierrez himself had four sacks and was a stalwart on the offensive line, as well.

“It was just an intense game,” he said. “We wanted to come out and set a tone and show them what we got. It felt good. We just wanted to not let them get a first down.”

Offensively, knowing the type of explosive players Socorro has made it easier for the line to do its job, Gutierrez said.

“We know what our guys are capable of, so we wanted to give it our all making holes for them and giving our quarterback enough time,” he said. “It gives us a lot of motivation knowing that we have a guy back there that can really move and throw the ball.”

This week the Warriors travel to Santa Fe Indian School for a Saturday afternoon match-up. The Braves usually are loaded with athletes but usually take a bit to come together since they don’t have a summer program. But they are coached by wily veteran Bill Moon, which could make the game a challenge, Ocampo said.

“In the next three, four weeks, we have some bangers in there to get us ready for district,” he said.