On the first day of two-a-days, Joey Caceres told his team at the conclusion of the morning workout that they’d just finished the best first day of any club he’s had in 21 years.

“Now, it’s going to boil down this men,” said the EHS leader. “Can you outperform the other teams? Everyone has to block, tackle, and run, but who is going to execute the best? It has to be us.”

As the Bobcats seek to make another playoff appearance, following up last year’s two-deep showing, they possess something that the coach feels is vital to continued success.

“We have the Bobcat confidence back and that means a lot,” said the fourth-year mentor, whose group defeated Brownsville Hanna in bi-district last year before losing a close one to Del Rio in area. “When you go through an 0-18 stretch like we did, it challenges a program, but we have come through that and now the kids want to keep it going.”

Truly, Edinburg is light-years from that debacle of 2006-2007, and becoming a postseason entry in 2009 capped the comeback. Now it’s time to see what happens with a new task on the horizon.

Looking at the ‘Cat roster, one sees a handful of stars and a whole bunch of kids looking to become notables. On defense, there appears to be enough talent on hand to make the unit one of the district’s best, which it was last season.

The standout is speedy senior Ciro Reyna, a great tackler at linebacker with superb closing speed and a famous mean streak. He will be one of the best players in South Texas if he matches last campaign’s performance. LB partner Rogelio Ortiz is a returning starter who makes a lot of plays; he could be ready for a superb season.

The big name in the secondary is Sal Martinez, in more ways that one. Already a fine ballhawk after a great sophomore season, he has bulked up considerably and looks way stronger than he did at this time in 2009. Martinez is always in the middle of the action.

Depth will be an issue for the back four, with a number of part-timers seeking full-time roles. Right now, Marcos Castillo and Brandon Patlan are running first-team at the corners with promising Teddy Lara looking to transform his huge upside into meaningful minutes on Friday night.

After losing some key men to graduation on the front line, defensive coordinator Rene Cortina still has some quality options, with powerpack Michael Padilla anchoring one tackle spot and strapping end Felipe Pena ready to explode on the outside. Pena is perhaps the team’s most impressive physical specimen at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, and on Day One he was knocking ball-carriers to the turf although the team was not yet in pads.

His development will go a long way toward determining the defensive charge. Caceres wants to employ Pena as he did Joe Fuentes last season, as a pass-rush monster who gives the opposing quarterbacks no rest.

“I have always believed that offense is predicated from defense, the defense sets the tone,” he said. “We don’t want the other team to get much time to look downfield and spot receivers.”

Other D-line possibilities include juniors Staverne Joseph and Jacob Benavides, plus senior Jaziel “Jazz” Trevino, all of them lining up at end as the fall sessions commence. Tackle Brandon Anzaldua is recovering from knee surgery, and he may swing back and forth between offense and defense, to help cover depth issues on the O-line.

In all, it looks to be another solid Bobcat defense, with some new faces below the radar wanting to make the mark alongside Reyna and the veterans.

2010 EHS SCHEDULE

Friday, Aug. 27

EHS at La Joya

Friday, Sept. 3

McAllen at EHS

Thursday, Sept. 9

EHS at Memorial

Friday, Sept. 24

Harlingen at EHS

Friday, Oct. 1

EHS at Pharr North

Friday, Oct. 8

EHS vs North

Friday, Oct. 15

EHS vs. Econ

Friday. Oct. 22

P-SJ-A at EHS

Friday, Oct. 29

EHS at P-SJ-A Memorial

Friday, Nov. 5

Harlingen South at EHS