EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of stories previewing the nine regular season opponents of the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Golden Norse football team.
MIAMI — After opening the 2017 regular season with a non-conference game in August, the New Mexico Military Institute Broncos begin play in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference at 6 p.m. on Sept. 2 against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College at Red Robertson Field.
Sixth-year head coach Joe Forchtner’s Broncos travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado, Saturday, Aug. 26, for a 1 p.m. clash with the Falcons of Air Force Prep.
Last season en route to a 5-4 overall record, the Broncos cruised past the Falcons, 62-27, in Roswell, New Mexico.
Becoming a member of the SWJCFC last year the Broncos finished 3-4 in their inaugural season.
Squaring off against NMMI at Colt Field last year, the NEO Golden Norsemen saw a 45-31 lead evaporate during the fourth quarter of a 52-45 loss.
Offensively the Broncos generated 515 total yards — 121 rushing and 394 passing — while the Norsemen produced 438 total yards — 146 rushing and 292 passing.
Golden Norse tailback Darwin Thompson led all running backs with 111 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns.
Over the spring workouts, Forchtner and his staff had 84 prospects returning from last year’s team. With the start of the month long July organized training activities, the Broncos will add an additional 32 incoming freshmen recruits.
During their first year in the league, the NMMI offense ranked fifth overall by averaging 509.1 total yards per game and 43.9 points per contest.
Finding a bonafide starting quarterback will be a top priority for the Broncos heading into the July session. Last season the Broncos alternated four sophomores under center during nine games.
Emerging from the spring drills at quarterback was freshman Jonah Weltzheimer (5-10, 180 from Edmond). Weltzheimer did not play during last season, but got plenty of reps during the spring.
Sophomore Jalen Jackson (5-9, 160 from Windson, Ontario) returns to the NMMI backfield after graduation claimed the top two ball carriers. As a freshman, Jackson rushed for 207 yards on 36 carries with three touchdowns. He also caught seven passes for 28 yards.
Five of the top eight Bronco receivers graduated as 22 total players caught at least one pass last season.
Andre Bodison and Bryndan McCoy return as wide outs.
Bodison (6-4, 180 from Palm Coast, Florida) made 22 receptions for 306 yards and two TDs.
McCoy (5-10, 180 from Clermont, Florida) finished with 21 catches for 317 yards and two touchdowns.
The Broncos coaching staff worked with 11 total prospects along the interior offensive line during the spring session.
Four prospects return to the defensive end positions for the Broncos led by Matz Peters (6-3, 235 from Cologne, Germany). In seven games as a freshman, Matz recorded 10 unassisted tackles, eight assists, two tackles behind the line of scrimmage for minus-35 yards and two pass deflections.
Sophomore Tali Amosa (6-3, 245 from Melbourne, Australia) appeared in four games as an end. He made four solo tackles and four assists.
Eight returnees along the interior defensive front include LJ Te’o (6-3, 265 from Pago Pago, Australia), Ben Avery (6-0, 300 from Winchester, Virginia), Leonard Sagapolutele (6-3, 295 from Pago Pago, Australia) and Alain Cimankinda (6-0, 250 from Ottawa, Ontario).
Cimankinda started eight games and recorded 18 solo tackles and 12 assists. He also posted two quarterback sacks for minus-12 yards, 4.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for minus-23 yards and one fumble recovery.
Experience abounds at the linebacker positions with 10 sophomores returning to fill three spots.
The Broncos also have experience at the four defensive secondary positions with 11 veterans returning.