San Juan County football teams wrap up the first week of practice, brace for new season

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Aztec's Hunter Riddick works on lateral quickness drills during practice on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

FARMINGTON — After many months waiting, and waiting, and waiting, just for the official OK from the New Mexico Activities Association, football squads across San Juan County finally hit the gridiron this week for the first days of practice.

Donning their colored practice helmets, players got basic work in, such as running, punting, throwing, catching and footwork, all while keeping their distance from other groups on the field.

Coaches and players alike took necessary precautions like wearing face masks on the field. But the safety protocols don’t end there.

For example, masks are required to enter the locker room at Hutchison Stadium in Farmington, and Aztec’s staff does temperature checks for everyone who enters Fred Cook Memorial Stadium.

Aztec football coach Eric Stovall encourages players on the sideline during practice on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium in Aztec.

Football and other sports were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NMAA approved practices to start on Monday under the latest revision of the 2020-2021 sports calendar.

2021 spring football schedule

Week 1

Aztec vs. Farmington, 7 p.m. March 5 at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium (Aztec)

Piedra Vista vs. Miyamura, 7 p.m. March 5 at Hutchison Stadium (Farmington)

* Bloomfield vs. Alamogordo, 1 p.m. March 6 at Los Lunas High School

Shiprock vs. Newcomb, 7 p.m. March 8 at Chieftain Field (Shiprock)

Kirtland Central at Gallup, 7 p.m. March 8

* Los Lunas remains in remote-learning, meaning its football team isn't eligible to play under the participation guidelines. LLHS is also a neutral travel site for both Bloomfield and Alamogordo, both of which are about 190 miles away from LLHS.

Week 2

Bloomfield vs. Piedra Vista, 7 p.m. March 12 at Bobcat Stadium (Bloomfield)

Kirtland Central vs. Aztec, 7 p.m. March 12 at Bill Cawood Field (Kirtland)

Farmington at Miyamura, 7 p.m. March 12

Newcomb vs. Crownpoint, 1 p.m. March 13 at Skyhawk Stadium (Newcomb)

Shiprock at Tohatchi, 1 p.m. March 13

Week 3

Farmington vs. Bloomfield, 7 p.m. March 19 at Hutchison Stadium

Shiprock at Cuba, 7 p.m. March 19

Newcomb at Tohatchi, 7 p.m. March 19

Kirtland Central vs. Miyamura, 1 p.m. March 20 at Bill Cawood Field

Piedra Vista vs. Aztec, 7 p.m. March 20 at Hutchison Stadium

Week 4

Farmington vs. Piedra Vista, 7 p.m. March 26 at Hutchison Stadium

Aztec vs. Bloomfield, 7 p.m. March 26 at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium

Shiprock vs. Thoreau, 7 p.m. March 26 at Chieftain Field

Newcomb vs. Cuba, 7 p.m. March 26 at Skyhawk Stadium

Kirtland Central at Grants, 1 p.m. March 27

2021 spring football guidelines

The NMAA implemented guidelines to "decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel, and allowing for appropriate protective equipment."

Here's a list of the general football event guidelines, per the NMAA:

  • The season will be shorter with schools playing only four or five football games.
  • Schools will be limited to a maximum of 60 individuals on the sideline.
  • In accordance with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s orders, spectators shall not be permitted.
  • All players, coaches, other team personnel, event personnel, officials, media, or any other individuals in attendance must wear a face covering at all times. This includes athletes actively participating.
  • Before, during, and after the contest, players, coaches, game officials, team personnel and game administration should wash or sanitize their hands as often as possible.
  • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet at all times while on the sidelines and on the field when not actively involved in gameplay.
  • Field access shall be limited to team personnel, officials, media and essential event staff.

To view additional guidelines, visit the NMAA's website.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports and business for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577, and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: