A head coach always has to keep the big picture in mind, delegating tasks to his staff and making the daily rounds, taking the pulse of the football team and spending long hours in concert, employing vision to see what need be done in the near future.
So it was that as Edinburg North wrapped up spring workouts last week, Coach Roy Garza was in full analysis mode. His Cougars have made the playoffs the past two seasons, and with a bevy of returning starters off a 7-4 club, the future looks promising.
With just about the whole crew back on defense, and enough solid quarterbacks to play three games at once, North looks to be a threat to win the district title. But Garza, paid to be the worry master, knows that he has some work to do on the offensive line.
“They lack experience, that’s the big thing,” he began. “We’ve gotten spoiled the past few seasons because we’ve had the big lines with a lot of skill. This spring we took a long look at our personnel up front and we’re still not through moving people around.”
The football gods giveth and they taketh away, and in the case of the Coogs, it means that steady senior center Rene Pena will be back for the fall, but outstanding guard prospect Chris Resendez will not. While Garza laments the transfer of the mammoth Resendez, who at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds was headed for two All-District years in blue and gold, he thinks that if things work out right, the hogs will be ready to lead the way come fall.
“We’ve got a couple of big, strong kids in that group, but they are not super fast in space,” noted the fifth-year coach. “Isaac Santos and Mike Zuniga, they are both strong in the weight room, especially Isaac. Where they end up playing, we don’t know that yet.”
The line is thus on the spot as the team heads into summer workouts and 7-on-7. Behind them, the die is not cast either, though the kids in the mix are returning from varsity duty in 2007. Coming into May, Raul Monsevais was the starter at QB, but he aggravated a long-running shoulder injury in the third week. After backup Michael Pacheco banged up a rib, back came Matt Munoz from slot receiver.
Now the Coogs are back where they started again, with a multitude of options.
“Matt came in that last week and he executed well, and he was very good for us last year,” said Garza of the tall, slim scrambler who completed over 60 percent of his passes after winning the preseason duel with Monsevais. “We felt like since he missed some time this spring he hadn’t earned the chance over at quarter, and he was looking real good at receiver. Now we have the same dilemma heading into fall, but it’s a good one to have.”
As stated, the defense is stacked with veteran talent from back to front, and it will be tough for the second-liners to crack the lineup. If the offensive line improves and holds up, it should be interesting.
As it has been for the past two campaigns, and here is where the Vision Thing comes in. Garza has a well-drilled staff that has been together for years now, and the whole group is intent on taking the program’s recent success and running with it.
“We have definite expectations now as a program,” said the coach. “We want to make the playoffs, but we want to make a more respectable showing when we get there. We have to keep pushing to get better, we’re not satisfied, you can’t be or you’ll go backward. We want to get in, and then represent.”
The staff has the routine down pat, and is becoming skilled at teaching incoming players how the team has made the postseason the past two years.
“We all know what needs to get done, and what needs we have to meet,” Garza explained. “Once you can get a winning feeling going it trickles down to the new kids. Each year we get more efficient with what we do, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Ideally, winning should lead to winning if you put the work in.”
The Coogs will hit the weight room and 7-on-7 this summer with the playoffs on their minds once again. They will develop that O-line group, find a kicker and punter, and wait for the scrimmage period to arrive.
“We have a lot of key people back, and we’re as good or better at every group besides the offensive line,” Garza opined. “And like I say, I have confidence that the line will come around.”