A New Era: End of Camp/Welcome to Phase II

Oñate KnightsOñate Knights take the field for Midnight Madness practice on July 31.
gamestrat high school football sideline instant replay

by Scott Veliz
Oñate High School Head Football Coach
Follow @Coach_Veliz

Fall Camp

With every ending comes a new beginning. A bit sappy, but true nonetheless. Fall camp has now ended for the Oñate Knights football team and now “Phase 2,” as we call it, the season, is upon us.

Here in the “Land of Enchantment” we were able to start practicing on July 31st. I’ll admit, it was a bit odd starting so early, since I’m used to Texas start times, but we really needed it and things could not have gone better.

Oñate Knights

Oñate Knights take the field for Midknight Madness practice on July 31.

We just could not wait to take the field the morning of July 31, so we started at midnight, the night before…which was technically July 31st. We called it “Midknight Madness.” See what we did with the spelling there??

I was told by a reporter at NM Preps that it was the first time a New Mexico school was doing something like this. I have to admit, the idea is not exactly original as we first did it when I was an assistant at El Paso Riverside in the 90’s and back then we stole the idea from college basketball teams who did it.

You know what they say, “good coaches borrow; great coaches steal.”

Oñate Knights

Midknight Madness at Oñate High School on July 31

Regardless, the kids, parents, and the entire community absolutely loved it, as they came-out in droves to support the new-look Knights. Over 80 players participated in a spirited 90-minute workout in front of 200 people that kicked off our 2017 campaign.

However, as with any program that is trying to change their culture, the afternoon practice at 4pm only drew 55 kids. Attendance was an early issue of ours as we went full-speed into camp.

The kids had to adapt to our new policies quickly and realize that practice attendance is MANDATORY, not optional. What we are trying to do as a staff is create a culture of love, family, discipline, respect, and most of all accountability. We want our culture to not only exist in our locker room, but it must resonate in the hallways, classrooms, in their homes, and throughout the community. If not, we will not be successful in football and we will not be successful in life. I would say, 90% of our players are buying in and selling out for us every day. They have truly subscribed to our methods and concepts and are committed to taking Oñate football to all new levels.

After two full weeks of a grueling camp, we have realized that we have some great kids that work very hard every day to make themselves and our program better. For the 10% that have not; I hope they do soon, because the train will leave the station with or without them.

This Thursday, the 17th, we will load a bus and take a 3 hour trip for a scrimmage against Artesia High School, to face the Bulldogs. It will be a great test for our young team, as Artesia is a tradition rich program that is well coached and very tough.


Oñate Staff 2017

Oñate Staff 2017

As with any great football program, successful company, or winning political campaign; a staff of hard working, knowledge, dedicated, people are required. Luckily, by the Grace of God, I was able to put together what I feel is the best staff in New Mexico. I retained only two coaches from the previous staff (they were the only two I wanted) and I brought in eight other outstanding, experienced men of high moral character to help me lead this program. I had countless applications and inquiries, but I settled on the following group of coaches and I could not be happier with the job they’ve done so far. They are:

Gary Recoder: Assistant Head Coach / Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line
-my best friend; like a brother to me / best OL coach in America / will be a head coach
very soon.

Eddie Pedregon: Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
-outstanding defensive mind who I’ve known for 20 years

Douglas Berta: Running Backs
-one of the smartest guys I know /great RB coach / worked together at EP El Dorado

Darrell Jordan: Defensive Backs
-brilliant DB coach / former Head Coach at LaMarque (TX): State Runners-Up

Ray Diaz: Wide Receivers / JV Offense
-holdover from previous staff / great coach, great hire / kids love him

Billy Avalos: Defensive Line / JV Defense
-the other holdover from previous staff / great coach, great hire / Head Coach
of La Muerte De Las Cruces, a local semi-pro football team for women (yes, you read that correctly!)

Javier Quintana: Head Freshman
-played QB for me as freshman at EP Riverside in 1995 / great football mind

Kevin Blain: Asst. Head Freshman
-first year coaching / great organizational skills / great with Freshman Defense

Charles Warren: Freshman Assistant
-first year coaching / great with freshman RB & LB / most energetic dude on staff /
gives the hardest damn high-five in America

Roy Martin: Freshman Assistant
-our freshman OL & DL guy / great with kids / loves Oñate Football and will do anything for it

Until next time. BUY IN-SELL OUT

Small Player Big Play

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No More Fumbles

About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.