By Eric Butler
FORT SUMNER — For the first time in four years, defenses trying to stop Fort Sumner’s offense won’t have to deal with rushing whiz Lance Fikany. The small but extremely quick back was a key ingredient in three straight Class 1A championship game appearances by the Foxes — and back-to-back titles the last two years.
But opponents should be wary about feeling too good about Fort Sumner’s graduation loss.
Many of the players on this year’s roster played key roles on the Foxes’ 2002 state championship team, which culminated with a 15-6 title game victory over Texico.
Fikany’s brother Ryan, often called “Little Fikany,” is one of three players in the Fort Sumner offense with experience at the quarterback position.
Derek Dimitroff, like Fikany, is expected to shuttle between the signal-caller position and running back. Meanwhile, Jameson West, who saw action at quarterback two years ago in the state championship game, is also available for Fort Sumner coach Mario Martinez.
“I remember the years when I prayed to God our quarterback wouldn’t go down, because we really didn’t have a back-up,” said Martinez, who has led the Foxes to five state titles in his 11-year tenure as head coach. “This year, depending on set or formation, we’ll use all three of them.”
Martinez has returnees at other important positions too. One is center John Sena, who made a critical block of a Texico punt in the state title game and is called the “line quarterback” by Martinez.
“Our line is very quick, (although) not overly big. We don’t have a kid on the line of scrimmage over 200 pounds,” Martinez said.
The defense is also not very big.
“There again, the biggest thing we’ve got is quickness,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to get around us. We’re not very big, but we’ll hit you and hit you very quickly.”
Fort Sumner scrimmages tonight at Texico, a frequent victim of the Foxes in the postseason over the last six years. The Wolverines have fallen to Fort Sumner in the Class 1A title game in 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2002.
“It is a scrimmage, but it’s going to be more than any normal scrimmage, of course,” said junior Ross Cortese, an offensive guard and linebacker. “I think everybody is gunning for us. Every day we’re going to get all we can handle from everybody. Texico’s probably going to want us more than anyone, but they’ll all try to dethrone Fort Sumner.”
Cortese, though, thinks the Foxes can handle the challenges.
“We’ve lost a lot of great senior leadership. We have to come together as a team,” Cortese said. “I think we can compete; it’ll just have to be a complete team effort, as small as we are this year.”