If the Jags were moving somewhat slowly Thursday, it wasn’t because of a lack of team speed. It had more to do with the requisite recovery period under way after a hard-hitting scrimmage session Wednesday.
As the spring practice sessions continues on the East Side, to culminate with the Spring Game Friday, May 21, at Cats Stadium, Econ is getting some excellent work done. The weather was an ally last week, with cloud cover shielding the Orange from the worst of the sun’s rays, and Coach Oscar Salinas thinks that overall, the effort has been very fruitful so far.
“I think we have gained an advantage this spring, definitely,” said the only coach the Jags have ever had in their 10 years of existence. “We have been able to do a lot of teaching without the pressure of having to prepare for a particular opponent. So it’s been teach, learn, and teach again.”
The Jags have been able to audition a number of inexperienced kids into the mix so far, especially at running back. Star Nelson Hampton had surgery on a broken foot last week, but Salinas said that he’ll be 100 percent by fall. His absence has given new faces some time in the limelight, with considerable reps at the spot.
“Nelson will be fine, he hurt himself at a track meet,” explained Salinas, whose bunch was 4-6 last year. “This surgery was more of a preventative move, and it will make him ever stronger once the two-a-days start.”
Fullback Rey Trevino returned to action after being slowed by a groin strain, and he is looking good. A burly plugger who can knockdown-block with the best of them, Trevino heads into his senior season as one of the keys to the offensive puzzle.
Also expected to contribute is receiver Sergio Jimenez, who caught a number of balls Thursday and shows the ability to catch in traffic and make positive yards downfield. He is part of a tall and swift receiver group who will gather in balls from senior passer Edgar Cuevas, who says that the Jags are ready to go far in 2010.
“We feel confident this year, we’re having a good spring and we’re guaranteeing we can compete for the playoffs,” Cuevas said earlier in the month. “This should be our year to shine.”
As the Jags progress through the sessions, they are counting on a fine linebacking corps to lead the way. Salinas notes that in Victor Salinas, Carlos Carlos, Aaron Garza, and Alvaro Bocanegra, he can call upon a group that stacks up well with Wrecking Crews of the past.
“For whatever reason we have always had the type of kid over here who plays that position well, tough kids” he said. “We’ve had some great ones in the past, like Mike Garza, and this year the group is outstanding; we expect the linebackers to be tough to block.”
The secondary is also shaping up nicely, with veteran corner Ulises Umanzor back for another season opposite All-District pick Aaron Garcia. Umanzor was sharp in coverage last week and is a two-year letterman who’s added some bulk with which to jam opposing wides. He has always had a keenly developed nose for the ball.
Econ will battle with McAllen Rowe, McAllen Memorial, and Brownsville Lopez in non-district action once the fall hits, and while that daunting list of foes awaits in the future, for now Salinas and Co. are feeling good about what they have accomplished in the spring.
“We had some good hitting Wednesday and we are going to get back at the contact tomorrow,” he noted of Friday’s impending scrimmage. “We are pointing toward the 21st for a nice finale. As for me, I have really got the motor going right now, it’s been good to get into spring ball and see the turnout, see the kids working hard.
“Now we have to see what their commitment is going to be for the summer. That will determine to a great extent how successful we will be in the fall.”