One could say that it promises to be a transition football season in town, because all four city schools will be dealing with substantial graduation losses. With that in mind, the quest to repeat last year’s clean sweep in 31-6A has begun, as Econ and Vela went into spring camp recently, North and EHS choosing to stay on the sidelines and opt for the earlier August start.
In 2016 the Edinburg teams rolled to all four league playoff slots and now set about the repeat path to 2017. Econ Coach Gabe Pena understands from the outside, it looks like the Jags will have many holes to fill. But he feels that the Orange will be able to make that happen.
“We’re going to be fine,” he remarked during a spring workout last week. “We’ve got some kids back who played a lot of football for us, and they’re ready to step into the key roles. The program is at the point now where we rotate a bunch of guys – especially on the defensive line – and usually end up with good returning players.”
Pena added that because the Jags have been playoff regulars the past four or five years, the new starters come in expecting to be competitive.
“And that is what we have been working on establishing, that mindset that we’re going to keep it going,” he explained. “We have turned the corner as a program and it really makes a difference. For us, having spring is important; yes, we lost some kids, but I think we are going to use the spring to find out a lot about our personnel.”
Back from the postseason club of last year are a number of standouts. Tall left-handed slinger Albert Guerra is set at quarterback, with athletic game-breaker Pete Segura out wide along with former QB Roger Barrientos. Expect the Jags to air it out at times as they wait on several young running back prospects to get the hang of the varsity drill.
Defensively, Econ should be good up front, and beyond with linebacker Nicholas Villanueva and safety Rolando Alviso the top vets at their spots.
“Nicholas really has a nose for the ball, and he has a lot of experience, a three-year guy now,” Pena intoned. “And Alviso, he has football savvy and he’s leading the charge in our secondary. We are banking on a solid JV group from last year, those kids are coming up and they are going to be ready to play.”
In essence, there is no reason why the East Side bunch will not be in the thick of the hunt. Pena expects it, and so do his charges.
“There’s no sense of panic here because we graduated some real good players,” the coach added. “It’s next man up around here, the kids believe in that, and it’s something we were intent on instilling, years ago when we got here. We’re at the point now where it’s business as usual, we have good numbers, we had a great period of work from January to now; this team is stronger in the weight room, they’ve done the work. And they believe in the system because they’ve seen the results, year after year.”