RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Changes are coming to the Rio Rancho football program. On Tuesday, Rams coach Gerry Pannoni announced his resignation to the team.

Story continues below

Pannoni told KRQE Sports that he will be moving to Virginia in remembrance of his wife, Lisa, who passed away from MSA earlier this month. The couple lived in Virginia prior to coming to New Mexico, and he is planning on returning to his former home to bury his partner of 38 years. He said that he could not live in a different state as he would not be able to visit her grave.

Pannoni was hired in 2020 and led the Rams to the Class 6A state championship game this past season. He finished his tenure at Rio Rancho with a record of 12-3 including the COVID shortened 2020 season.

Later in the day, Rio Rancho announced offensive coordinator Nate Pino will take over as head football coach. Pino has spent the last three seasons as OC and has coached at Rio Rancho for 18 years.

“I’m stoked, you know, I’m a Rio Rancho guy,” Pino said. “I actually graduated from here in 2000 and I started coaching here shortly thereafter. I worked with every head coach, kind of growing up, from Wilson Holland all the way through. You know, I kind of paid my dues. Coach Howes in particular and Coach Pannoni have done a good job of building something up that’s great here.”

Pino likes the current state of the program and doesn’t plan on making many big changes. Instead, he wants to continue to build off the Rams recent success.

“Gerry did a great job of creating tempo,” said Pino. “We’re going to play physical defense. We got a great defensive coordinator in coach Martinez. That’s going to stay the same and uh…we’re going to be physical and we’re going to run the football.”

Pino is currently a history teacher and the girls track and field coach.