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Thursday December 13, 2018. On the schedule, it’s just another boys basketball game between Santa Rosa and Moriarty.  To many of the fans, this game is much bigger than that.  It’s the day Frank Ortiz will face Marcus Ortiz in a father-versus-son showdown.  The Lions are coached by veteran Frank Ortiz while the Pintos are led by Marcus, his son.

“There’s a bunch of hype going into it, but I try to forget the hype,” said Marcus. “It’s between the kids. It comes down to them.”

“We haven’t discussed it,” said Frank Ortiz. “We discussed basketball, but haven’t talked about our game.  It’s just another game on the schedule for us.”

This is the first time Marcus has ever matched up against his father.  “In the 30 years my dad has been in Santa Rosa, Moriarty has never been on the schedule.”  Marcus is a first-year head coach, but the Pintos weren’t placed on the calendar just because Marcus took over the program. “The schedule was made before I got the job,” he joked.

Credit to G. Demarest and The Independent Newspaper

The story runs even deeper than a Shakespearean play.   Frank graduated from Moriarty High School and coached on the 1982 state championship staff there as an assistant.  His stint with the Pintos from 1981-83 was his first coaching job as an assistant.  He is currently in his 32nd year at Santa Rosa.

Marcus graduated from Santa Rosa High School and played for his dad in 2002, reaching the title game in football and basketball.

In 2007, Marcus won a state title as an assistant football coach on the Lions’ staff.

The father-son matchup isn’t a topic of conversation between the two coaches. “We haven’t even talked about it,” said the younger Ortiz.  “The whole family has, but we haven’t talked about it.”

“When I first started getting into coaching, I hoped we would meet in a championship game.  It’s pretty cool.  He’s going to know my plays, I’m going to know his.  I have a couple he doesn’t know.  We have the same style of coaching and same style of defense.”

When asked about his son’s coaching style, father didn’t waste any time complimenting son.  “Marcus is very aggressive coach and very enthusiastic and good motivator and loves to compete,” he said.

There is no wager on the line between the two, no bragging rights are being discussed. “If I win, it’s a bonus, if he wins he’s supposed to do it,” Marcus joked.

Moriarty is in a rebuilding process right now with a 1-3 overall record.  Santa Rosa beat Fort Sumner on Tuesday night to improve to 3-1 on the season.

Frank is not only a father to Marcus, he’s also a mentor and a colleague.  “The most recent advice he gave me was before my first game,” explained Marcus.  “He said, ‘One thing to remember is when frustration kicks in knowledge goes out.’ He’s always leading me to the right path.”

We will see where that path leads on Thursday.  The showdown is scheduled for a 7pm tipoff at Santa Rosa High School.

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