By Mickey Winfield, PNT staff writer
ELIDA — At least 14 Elida boys will gather on the football practice field Monday afternoon for the first time in school history.
One year after fellow Roosevelt County school Dora kicked off their first season of football with an eight-man squad, the Elida Tigers are following suit and will field a six-man team this fall.
“It seemed like all the other little schools went to football,” Elida head football coach Floyd Jones said. “(We) wanted to start it to have something for the boys to do while the girls were in volleyball to kind of get in shape for basketball season.”
The Tigers will play on a field nearing completion next to Elida’s new Acosta baseball complex.
Jones, who played football at Clovis High School in the ‘70s, doesn’t have any football coaching experience, but as he said — you’ve got to start somewhere.
“Am I going to live up to the standards of what the boys want or what the school wants,” Jones asked. “It’s been 30 years since I played and I played 11-man instead of 6-man. It will be a learning process for all of us.”
Jones says everybody in the community is welcome to watch the historic practice at 2:30 p.m Monday.
“The excitement level (of the team) is excellent,” Jones said. “The boys are conditioning now. They’re lifting weights and running on their own, but the boys are very excited about it.”
The Tigers’ first game is set for Aug. 28 against New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe, while their first home game is two weeks later, hosting Hondo on Sept. 13.
School officials wanted to start the program at the six-man level, before competing with schools like Floyd, Dora and Melrose at the eight-man level.
“We don’t want to try to move to eight-man before we’re ready,” Elida superintendent Jack Birch said. “We want success for our kids.”
“I expect us to go to eight-man next year,” Jones said. “They’ve never been around football and this is something that they wanted to do. I have yet to see a boy that wasn’t totally excited. They’re ready to put the pads on and go.”
Under New Mexico Activities Association regulations, Elida will not be sanctioned or allowed to participate in postseason play during their first year of existence.