Andrew McCraw has been named as the next football coach at Belen High School, Belen Consolidated Schools Superintendent Lawrence Sanchez announced on Wednesday.
McCraw replaces Phil Lopez, who resigned last Friday after six weeks on the job.
Most recently, McCraw served as the offensive line coach, run game coordinator and assistant head coach at Eastern New Mexico University from 2017-21. While at Eastern, he helped to oversee one of the top rushing offenses in America as the Greyhounds finished second in Division II in rushing while breaking the school record for yards in a single season. He also served as a graduate assistant at ENMU from 2012-14.
Prior to joining the Greyhounds staff the first time, McCraw spent a year at his alma mater, Lovington High School in 2008, as well as spending 2009-12 on the staff at Valencia High School under former Greyhounds coach Kelley Lee.
McCraw then spent 2015 back in Lovington before accepting his first head coaching position at Socorro High School in 2016 but only spent a year leading the Warriors before joining the Eastern staff again in a full-time position.
McCraw said the Belen job was one that had been appealing to him for a long time.
“I’ve applied to this job a few times,” McCraw said. “I saw the success you can have there first hand when I was at Valencia and all three programs in the county were really clicking.”
Sanchez called McCraw on Wednesday morning to discuss the position and offer him the job.
“I talked to him about it and we had a good chat,” McCraw said. “I figured if they were to offer it I better take it. I was disappointed in May when I didn’t get it but I’m just glad I’m here now.”
McCraw will be getting a late start with the team as he still has to go through the district’s hiring process, and will take over the program less than six weeks before the season opener. As a result, McCraw is planning to be flexible with nearly everything heading into his first year.
“We’re going to run the ball a lot, that will be our offensive focus first and foremost,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of success with the flexbone, I want to be able to take advantage of the ground game.
“One of the best things with the option is getting guys wide open and in one on one situations out wide we can take advantage of.”
Defensively, McCraw isn’t sure how the Eagles will line up, it will depend on what the kids are already familiar with and what they can keep doing well.
“We’re going to play tough and play hard,” he said. “We may screw up from time to time but playing hard can fix a lot, we just need to make sure that we’re putting kids in good positions.”
Until McCraw’s hire is finalized, offensive workouts are being conducted by a group of assistants who remain on staff.
“I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing coaching staff-wise,” McCraw said. “It’s a little late to be putting together a staff but if we have openings remaining and we’re able to get good coaches in that’s what I want to do.”
Despite the difficult situation he and the team are in with the late start they will get, McCraw is confident things will work out.
“I know this isn’t a perfect situation but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about kids its that they’re resilient,” McCraw said. “They will figure it out as long as they have someone there who can kind of lead the way.”
Sanchez said McCraw is expected to be in Belen on Monday to begin putting together the paperwork and going through the official hiring process.
“We’re confident there won’t be any issues or delays with the process given where he’s worked in the past,” Sanchez said. “We just have to do our due diligence as we would with any teacher before they begin working with the students.”
McCraw, who has been living in Lovington, said he already has couches lined up to crash on when he gets into town this weekend and will live out of a hotel until a more permanent living situation can be arranged.
“I’m hoping we’ll be able to get going a little bit on Monday,” McCraw said. “I know they have summer workouts and things planned in the evening. I want to get there and get going as soon as possible.
“I’m really excited about this,” he said. “I’ve had my eye on this job for a while and I’m glad I’m here and can’t wait to get to work.”