Former Mission High athlete wins NJCAA national championship

Former Mission High running back Horacio “Tito” Moronta earned a district championship with the Eagles during his senior season, rushing for 355 yards and six touchdowns in four appearances.

Moronta added national champion to his resume Dec. 17, helping the New Mexico Military Institute Broncos knock off Iowa Western Community College 31-13 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“You could feel the energy of the team as the clock hit zero,” Moronta said. “Everybody started to get excited and jumping up and down. It’s a great feeling just knowing you’re a national champion even if it is at the JUCO level. It’s still not an easy task to do. There was just a whole bunch of excitement on our sideline watching the fans go crazy as the clock wound down to zero. Just nothing like ever before.”

Moronta and the Broncos’ defense held the Reivers scoreless through three quarters, holding a 31-0 advantage going into the final period.

A pair of fourth quarter touchdowns by the Reivers cut the Broncos’ lead to 18, but a stop on fourth-and-20 by the Broncos’ defense shattered Iowa Western’s comeback hopes, with the offense going chewing up the final eight minutes of regulation with a 13-play drive.

The Broncos finish their season with a 12-1 overall record, including six straight wins during their national championship run, with their last loss coming Oct. 23 during a 38-19 defeat against Cisco College.

“After that loss, you can tell the team’s attitude and demeanor changed,” Moronta said. “We were winning before but after that loss, it really helped us get our heads straight. I feel like maybe we were letting our heads get a little too big. After that loss one thing we really focused on was not wanting to feel that feeling again, especially after losing by almost 20.”

This season, Moronta started in 11 of his 12 appearances for New Mexico Military Institute, tallying 20 total tackles and one interception during his first full year with the program, including a pair of tackles while starting in the national championship game.

Last year, Moronta appeared in three games for the Broncos during a shortened season due to COVID-19, recording two total tackles.

“This year I’ve learned how to break down offenses and being able to break down film and stuff,” Moronta said. “I was able to learn the speed and physicality of the game. I feel like I got better as the season went by. I learned how to trust my teammates and know that they’ll take care of their responsibilities to get the job done.”

With one year of eligibility left with the Broncos, Moronta is looking forward to the offseason after a quick holiday break to recharge with his family, hoping to build off last season.

“There are really no distractions there (at New Mexico Military Institute),” Moronta said. “It’s just football and school. Those are the two things I can focus on. Really, they’re the only things I want to focus on. I want to get bigger, stronger and work on my skills with the coaches. I’m ready to spend a whole time with them breaking down film and learning what I could have done better this past season and perfect my craft.”

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