Shorthorns trample Renegades in a runaway homecoming game

Freshman Class Duchess Ana Gallegos has a mum pinned on her dress ahead of the Thursday night community pep rally during homecoming week. Photos by Sarah Vasquez

MARFA — This year’s Shorthorns homecoming game was a barnburner, with Marfa clinching their first win of the season with a whopping final score of 65-19. Friday’s victory is also the first win on home turf in recent memory.

Leading up to the Friday home game, Head Coach Arturo Alferez reminded his team that there’s more than just a game happening, and urged students to enjoy the festivities while still providing a showcase of the team’s talents. “Homecoming is not just about you, it’s about alumni coming back, it’s about your families, them coming back and sharing those memories. They live those memories through you guys,” he told the players.

And the festivities were certainly memorable this year. A parade kicked off events on Thursday, with players and the homecoming court riding through town as Marfa fans parked along the route, honking and waving in celebration of the special weekend.

Though distance was still being enforced due to coronavirus, temperature checks and spaced out seating let festivities go on almost as usual. The community pep rally introduced the court, and junior varsity and varsity cheer rallied the crowds to their feet.

Homecoming Queen candidate Andrea Torres in the homecoming parade.

The tradition of senior skit this year saw the Class of 2021 imagine what their 60th class reunion would look like in the year 2081. In a tongue-in-cheek performance, students imagined successful careers and their many bumps along the way (including a few students becoming cheesemongers for a fictional king of Italy before returning to Marfa to retire.)

The Thursday event wrapped up with the burning of the “M” tradition, and the Class of 2021 circled up, masks on, to hear their senior song and watch the immolating “M” on Martin Field.

Ahead of Friday’s game, the homecoming court was also announced, with Zach Gomez and Andrea Torres crowned Homecoming King and Queen. John Aguero was named Prince and Gaby Soto was crowned Homecoming Princess.

Marfa High School seniors take photos in front of the Burning M at the homecoming pep rally.

Then it was gametime, which kicked off with a touchdown by the horns. But a quick reversal put them down 6-7 against the Renegades, a Permian Basin “co-op” team made up of players from area schools that don’t have a team of their own.

While the Renegades continued to put up a fight, it was the horns who quickly regained the lead and maintained it the rest of the game. Players like Uriel Torres, Dedrick Campos, Levi Hinojos and Jaden Nunez all scored touchdowns throughout the game, and Alferez celebrated his players, while taking a holistic look at how the team worked together to get ahead.

“We recognize not just the run,” he said. He told his offensive players, “You were able to score this touchdown because of Jaden [Nunez]’s block or Ian [Marquez]’s block. Without those crucial blocks, you don’t get open.” In that way, the coach recognized the whole team, rather than awarding any one as the most valuable player.

Throughout the game, varsity cheer had the fans on their feet, and a bell rang for each Shorthorn point during their runaway win. “It’s always fun to hear the Marfa bell ring so many times,” said Alferez. “They train so much, and they train to hear that bell ring.”

“As a team, I could see the preparation we did all week. I could see the focus,” the head coach said after the game. “Even with all the different activities such as the parade and festivities, they were still able to stay focused on the win.”

As the clock ran down on the second quarter, Campos picked up a loose ball and drove it home for the final touchdown. With a two point conversion, the shorthorns secured a lead large enough to end the game under the “mercy rule,” where a team up more than 45-points at the half is declared the victor.

The win was a relief for the Shorthorns, who, in recent years, have faced bad luck during homecoming games. One year, an opposing team did not want to finish a game and walked off the field, and last year a team canceled their participation at the last minute, leaving the Horns with no opponent at all.

“Winning homecoming is always something special for the school and always something special for our players, especially because they put in the long hours. It’s a game that’s always circled on their calendar that they want to win. The whole town is here, and their family is here,” Alferez said. He extended gratitude to the town for showing support, families who turned out to watch practices and games, and the school’s administration, athletic director and their board members.

Coach Alferez also credited Assistant Coach Edgar Ramirez’ weight room program, Coach Josh Kelly’s ability to keep the team disciplined and focused and Coach Arron Luna for his rousing pregame speech that inspired the players.

The team marked their victory this year by dumping a cooler of Gatorade on Assistant Coach Kelly, who was celebrating a birthday that night.

Even Renegade Coach Ethan Hendricks was feeling the spirit of the event, congratulating the team on their first win this season and offering thanks for the hospitality and sportsmanship the Shorthorns gave on Friday night.

“This is a good team that we have,” Alferez said. “We played, we gave our best shot, and this is the best that Marfa can represent.”