They haven't been doing a lot of hitting in the North camp so far, but not because they don't enjoy contact. The plan is to keep everyone healthy so that when the first scrimmage rolls around, Aug. 19 at Rio Grande City, the Coogs will have all available manpower in the game.
For a squad that is solid but lacking depth, the idea is to avoid knocking each other out of the lineup with excessive hitting before the Friday Night Lights come on.
"We have been doing a lot of our work on the air, which means without much contact," said Roy Garza, whose North bunch got rolling last week. "The early part of two-a-days for us will be learning, repetition, reads, that sort of thing."
Another way the Coogs will seek to leverage talent for the upcoming year will be to make sure their kids can go both ways if necessary.
"By necessity, I think we will have some guys who you will see playing both offense and defense at certain points this year," said Garza, whose club opens up with a road game at Brownsville Pace Aug. 26. "That means that we have some guys who are No. 1's on offense and maybe No. 2's on defense, and vice versa. If they are needed on the other side, we expect them to be ready to go."
Garza noted that the strategy of using kids at multiple slots will be used judiciously, to make sure a player is ready to work at his main position. But he knows the old axiom about having one's best 11 out there is not idle talk.
"Certainly that makes sense to a degree," he commented. "And even more so when you are a little challenged as far as overall numbers go, and that's our situation this year: we're a little thin at some places."
North regulars who might see double duty include receiver Mike Hinojosa, a promising prospect at cornerback, and a number of offensive linemen.
"For example, when we go goal-line defense, we might throw in one of our big kids from the OL for some plays," Garza explained. "But I doubt anyone will be playing several series in a row that way."
One guy who will not see action in that regard is senior Joel Cuellar, who has moved into the quarterback role for the 2011 season. The versatile multi-sport star has pleased his coach so far.
"He's bright and has worked really hard, he was here every day this summer getting better," said Garza of the former receiver. "He's a great guy who's going to be a leader for us this year and I think he is ready to help us score a lot of points."
Also look for Espino Reyes to be an important part of the puzzle on offense, and maybe at DB as well. The mercurial soccer standout has come of age in the past six months, with Garza praising his ability but more vitally, his improved work ethic.
"We always knew that he could be a difference-maker, and now he is showing the sort of day-in, day-out work that he needs to have," Garza said. "Espino is gifted, and he can help us in a number of ways, I was very proud of the way he embraced the challenge and came out to work this summer."
Reyes will handle the kicking duties while baseball outfielder Keith Silva is slated to punt in 2011. Garza stressed that better special teams play is a must if the Coogs want to return the playoffs after a year's hiatus.
"That, and cut down on our turnovers, if we can do those things, we should be alright," he said. "It's hard to win when you have the turnover ratio we did last year. The thing about special teams that will help is, we will have some starters on those units, all the coaches know that they need to get some of their position kids ready to help us on special teams this season."