ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Christopher Smalls doesn’t mind taking on a challenge. Smalls is the new head coach of the Rio Grande Ravens Football team.

The former UNM Lobos and Duke City Gladiators defensive lineman does not have a lot of time to get ready. He has been on the job for less than a month and will coach his first game next Thursday.

“The real big challenge is just getting athletes out here,” said Smalls. “The second biggest challenge is getting assistant coaches in here.”

That’s right. Smalls is doing the job by himself at the moment. He has leaned on some of his upperclassmen to help run practice, but that can only help so much because many of the players have had limited game reps.

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“Playing experience, that’s where they’re truly young,” said Smalls. “There’s guys who have never played, and they’re junior and seniors, or they have one or two years, and they’re out here. So, it’s just getting their football knowledge up a little more and letting them be able to compete.”

Ravens quarterback Joaquin Tafoya is playing the position for the first time and comes from the school’s winning baseball program. He is hoping his knack for winning can spread on the football team.

“You know, these kids, not too much of a winning team, not the mentality of, like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re winners,'” said Tafoya. “Come change it around. Come change this program around, make these kids winners, get Rio Grande’s name back out there.”

The Ravens will start the season at Albuquerque Academy next Thursday.