The scene is always inspiring, hopeful, and devoid of much pressure. Sure there are position battles forming, and sure the coaches want to get the most they can out of the month of workouts. But bottom line, every high school team in the country that undertakes spring football comes out of it undefeated.
So it was that North cranked it up last week, and as the Cougars stretched out, their excitement grew. Soon returning defensive starter Manny Garcia launched into a planned cheer for his mates, summoning them to work as the practice began.
And defense is a good place to start when discussing North, because in 2009, the unit might be the strength of the team in the early going. The Coogs are flat stacked in the secondary, returning six kids who either started or saw significant time on the field during last year’s 7-4 playoff campaign. Garcia is the most experienced and it looking to maintain an injury-free senior year after he missed considerable time in 2008.
At linebacker, graduation took the top two tacklers in Robert Flores and K.C. Greaves, but this could be the year that last season’s Super Sophomores, Robert Rodriguez and Blaze Walker, come to the party. Both have been weight-room warriors, and Josh DeLuna hasn’t hesitated in that regard either.
Up front, it seems like Heltrin Reyes has been doing his thing for about 12 years, and he is once again paired with tackling ace Hector Trejo at end, giving defensive coordinator Rene Saenz a trusted star tandem.
Offensive coordinator Adan Rendon donned his usual heavy sweatshirt for the 95-degree day, and walked around the perimeter of the stretching kids with much enthusiasm.
“There’s nothing like the first day of football,” he grinned, and as always, he was right.
Later, he walked by senior-to-be Simon Edwards and said, “The torch has been passed, men…what are we going to do with it?”
And even in the relaxed yet feverish spring setting, Edwards is the player in the spotlight, as he attempts to replace Marco Adriana, the district’s leading rusher. A big-legged runner with tremendous strength, Edwards will attempt to do what Adriana did in 2008, which is fill the shoes of a 1,000-yard back. Back then, it was Oscar Hernandez who graduated, and all Adriana did was rush for over 1,600 yards as the “replacement.”
Now it’s Edwards’ turn, and the coaches say that he is super talented, and very coachable. The complication comes with the team’s offensive line, which said goodbye to two starters at the tackles, and recently learned that it might be down two more. Center Rene Pena is said to transferring to Rio Grande City, while last year’s soph starter at guard, Chris Resendez, is moving to Oklahoma.
This means that head coach Roy Garza is searching for some fill-ins this spring, as all the positions are open.
Luckily, the Coogs have a deep receiving corps led by shifty Juan Ramirez, and a solid returning QB in Raul Monsevais. Part-time starter Matt Munoz, impressive in his stint in 2008, has been moved to slot receiver, meaning junior Michael Pacheco, a fine athlete who has gotten bigger and stronger since the season ended, moves up to No. 2.
In all, North appears poised to defend its back-to-back playoff appearances in 2009. If Edwards is the real McCoy, and some unknowns step up on the line, the attack will be ready to roll when fall gets here. The defense, somewhat maligned last year, would seem to be much improved.
As the spring continues, the Coogs will as always seek to answer some questions, pencil in their depth chart, and head for the summer.