Where Mike Pitel goes, history follows.
Pitel has spent most of his life marking history, whether it was by happenstance or with purpose — which he has for more than 21 years as the filmographer for St. Michael’s football. He seemed to have a nose for finding history.
Perhaps Pitel’s favorite place is a library, combing through microfilm and archives, looking for
nuggets of information about St. Michael’s and Santa Fe football history. The product of that thorough research comes in the form of emails to coaches, media and alumni every week as the Horsemen prepare for their next opponent. And that is on top of breaking down film and accumulating statistics for coaches and media to parse.
If there is a question about who has the longest pass completion in Horsemen history (a 99-yarder from Corey Serna to Salomon Martinez in 2011), the most catches (64 by current defensive coordinator Joey Butler in 2001) or the longest kickoff return (David Fernandez, 95 yards in 1960 against Los Alamos), Pitel is your answer man.
It has been a labor of love for one of the more notable figures of the football program.
“It’s like having that garnish on the main course at a restaurant,” Pitel said. “The garnish is all the little factoids that you work into something. ”
One part of Pitel’s passion play with the Horsemen will come to an end Saturday afternoon. He will officially leave the coaches box, where he stationed himself since late in the 2001 season to tape all St. Michael’s football games, at the end of the Class 3A championship game between the Horsemen and Ruidoso at Ivan Head Stadium.
Pitel had already ceded some of the video responsibilities to Bob Jacobs this season, especially as he dealt with family issues that occupied his time. Pitel added, straining to look at the camera lens put too much pressure on his back.
St. Michael’s head coach Joey Fernandez said the 2022 season has been awkward at times because Pitel hasn’t been the face he saw to hand off the video camera to him or his coaches.
“It’s tough when you have someone that long that you get used to,” Fernandez said. “You don’t realize how much he really does. I’ve been real appreciative of what he’s done. Not having him as a filmer has been tough.
“[Jacobs] has been doing a great job, but not getting the camera after the game from Mike has been kinda different.”
It might be coincidence that Pitel’s official title as gameday cameraman came in Fernandez’s first year. He was looking for someone to film games, and Pitel was a constant figure at games because his son Doug was the team’s long snapper as a freshman.
Pitel actually started filming games late in the 2001 season, during the final year of then-head coach Tracy Stuart. His first game was a thrilling 31-28 win over Raton to open District 2-3A play, and Pitel remembers it for the game-winning field goal, and every detail of it — even his son snapping the ball.
“Spencer Ruyle kicked it, and Joey Butler was the holder,” Pitel said.