ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The St. Pius Sartans will look a little different on the gridiron this year. Traditionally, there have been around 50 players in the program, however, this year that number is up to 82. A major factor in adding to the number of players is new head coach, Curtis Flakes II.

Following last year’s two-win season, a coaching change was made and Flakes, a former Lobo and Albuquerque High coach, took the reigns. Turning around a program is something that takes time, but Flakes is utilizing young talent across the board to build something for the future.

“It’s set up for us to have some long-term success,” said Flakes. “Out of the 82 kids, 61 of the kids are between the grades of 8th, 9th and 10th. So, definitely a very young team. Inexperienced, but these guys are athletic and they work hard and give it all they got.”

While the team is very young with a plethora of new players, the ones that have been in the program for a few years are noticing a significant change in culture. They said that in addition to the new schemes that they are enjoying, they also appreciate how the new staff treats them like men, not just football players.

“Just seeing how our potential is being met more and our coaching staff is really pushing us, I’m very optimistic,” said senior Christian Marin. “They’re actually coaching us this year and putting us at a higher standing point so we can launch off at a better starting point and hopefully succeed in our season.”

It will be a collective effort to turn the program around, but Flakes already has experience doing so. He was the head coach at Albuquerque High and ended the Bulldogs 42 game losing streak in 2014. Flakes knows what it takes, but in the end, it comes down to the basics.

“It’s just discipline,” Flakes said. “We focus on the fundamentals of the game and make sure the kids truly understand football, understand the plays and why they’re doing what they’re doing. Also just focusing on what we call DEA, discipline effort and attitude.”

The Sartans open the season on Friday, August 18th on the road against defending champion Bloomfield.