By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the NEWS
Squads that did not hold spring practices can open their preseason workouts Monday as the 2013 high school football season opens up across the state.
Locally, only the Rio Hondo Bobcats and other Class 3A teams will open workouts on Monday. The San Benito Greyhounds and Los Fresnos Falcons each held spring football and will wait an extra week before starting their workouts on Aug. 12 according to UIL regulations.
The Bobcats were beset by injuries last season, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004 despite a 6-4 record (2-2 in District 32-3A). But Cats head coach Rocky James, who enters his sixth season at the helm, said spirits—and numbers—are high in Rio Hondo.
“Our summer conditioning workouts averaged 70-75 kids over the three weeks,” James said. “That’s the largest number we’ve ever had so it was really good to see that. The kids are excited and we’re all ready to get back to work (on Monday).”
James said the Bobcats haven’t exactly been sitting around all summer. Coaches are in the weight room with the players and the aforementioned conditioning takes a bulk of the summer as well. The staff expects around 100-110 players ready to work on Monday morning.
“The summer is fast and we really don’t have too much off time,” James said. “We’ve made sure the kids have come in to lift (weights) and stuff like that.”
Rio Hondo must replace standout quarterback Juan Puga, one of those players hurt last season. After graduating, Puga is taking his talents to West Texas at Sul Ross State. Eli Pitones and Richmond Bates are vying to take over as signal-caller.
Overall, enthusiasm and playoff hopes are high at every school, but winning at Rio Hondo often go hand in hand and James said his kids are ready to get back to that.
“Not going to the playoffs last year was a big deal for us,” James said. “We’re gonna be young, but our kids have been working hard and they’re ready to go.”