By ARMANDO GARZA
Special to the NEWS
Anxious to get the season under way, the 2014 San Benito Greyhounds already beat their first opponent: the sun.
In total, 126 varsity and junior varsity players were on the turf at 6:30 a.m. for the first group practices of the summer under new ’Hounds coach Dan Gomez and his coaching staff. Players were rarin’ to go early Monday as they were attentive and focused before the sun began to rise.
“It (enthusiasm) was good. We started early and still had kids coming in before report time,” said Gomez, who was most recently the head coach at 2A Lytle. “They’re eager. They’ve put in plenty of work in the summertime and just like all around the Valley, everyone’s ready to get going.”
Immediately after a pre-workout stretch, the ’Hounds broke off into position groups and were hard at work with numerous drills. For the first four days of practice, only shirts, shorts and helmets are permitted and workout hours are limited. On Friday, full pads can be worn and traditional two-a-day workouts will begin.
The new attitude in the air was refreshing and is a sign of the job ahead for Gomez, hired in March. In 2013, San Benito finished a disappointing 3-7 and missed the state playoffs for the second straight season. Though this is his first head coaching job at the Class 6A level, Gomez has plenty of experience at good programs including Rio Hondo, PSJA Memorial and Lytle. He said that coaches, players and the community can expect to get the utmost effort and dedication from him to the Greyhound program.
“It’s football. That’s what us coaches love to do,” Gomez said while explaining any potential differences from big schools to small schools. “I’m a guy that’s committed to the kids and we’ll push them and get every single ounce of energy and talent out of them. We genuinely care about them being successful.”
Some of the changes made by Gomez and his staff were obvious on the first day of camp.
New coordinators Gilbert Leal (offense) and Haskell Buff (defense) were hard at work implementing their schemes on opposite ends of the field while several new assistants mixed in with some of the holdovers to offer instruction as well. In addition, new player drills were in full swing as Gomez, known as a tireless worker, made his way to each group around the field and observed, participated and offered instruction and motivation.
There’s also a new look to this year’s squad. In the spring, Gomez brought back the traditional “SB” team logo and that was followed up with new two-toned gold and purple helmets and new jerseys as well. The team’s new “War Dog” motto is also a sign of change as well as a sign of unity.
“It signifies that boys’ commitment to each other,” Gomez said of the motto. “We don’t use the ‘s’ behind ‘dog’ because we’re one. It shows a unified front and kids on the same page.”
With practice in full swing, the ’Hounds will continue to work early mornings until Friday. The annual “Meet the Greyhounds” event will be held next week and they’ll continue preparations for their first scrimmage, Aug. 22 at PSJA North.