The New Mexico Military Institute team members celebrate their victory over Iowa Western for a national junior college football championship Friday night. (NMMI courtesy photo)
Copyright © 2021
A National Junior College Athletic Association Division I soccer championship resulted in an exciting celebration for the New Mexico Military Institute.
In addition, the momentous 31:13 win against the previously unbeaten Iowa Western on Friday night in Little Rock, Arkansas, can change the Broncos’ program decisively, said coach Kurt Taufa’asau.
“It raises everyone’s expectations,” Taufa’asau said during a phone interview as the team rode the bus back home from Arkansas to Roswell on Saturday night. “These guys might not be 6-foot-5, 300-pound types, but these guys have the heart to measure themselves and get the job done. I hope this national championship will raise everyone’s expectations and what people will think of the New Mexico Military Institute from now on. “
NMMI (12-1) won its first national championship with a dominant performance that resulted in the Broncos taking a 31-0 lead over Iowa Western (10-1) in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos include 20 New Mexico natives, including quarterback Diego Pavia, a Volcano Vista graduate, and defensive lineman Christian Carreathers, an Albuquerque high graduate.
“You’ve really helped,” Taufa’asau said of the New Mexico natives. “You are, so to speak, the foundation of our team. We bring a lot of local people with this chip on their shoulders and they will go out and do all the dirty work. “
Pavia and running back Anthony Grant have both been offered to move to New Mexico state but have yet to decide where to play next. Grant, a native of Buford, Georgia, was named the MVP of the title game and led the nation that season with 1,730 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns.
Taufa’asau, the NJCAA Coach of the Year, said work for a national championship had not started this year.
“It started last year when we were recruiting these players during the pandemic,” he said.
“The guys who believed in us when we weren’t in a season. They came last fall and interfered with our training and committed to the vision and plan we had. It’s great to see. It came to fruition when we won the national championship. “
The NMMI team spent more than 24 hours together on the bus tour that was supposed to end later on Saturday. Taufa’asau said NMMI couldn’t afford a team flight to Arkansas and the bus ride was more manageable.
The drive home was also more pleasant after a win.
“It was exciting,” said Taufa’asau about the national championship of the NMMI. “I am delighted that our boys and our program are the first team to win the national championship for our school. I think it’s a great achievement not only for our boys, but also for all of the people who paved our way into this position.
“The party was pretty great,” he said. “There was a lot of support from the alumni and a deluge of text messages and phone calls as well as on social media. It was just great. It was just an exciting night. “