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“We’re realists when we meet in the coaches offices,” said Gilpin. “We’re 2-4 and 2-2 in district play and we’re not happy with that at all. There is no magic thing to say to a team. It’s tough sometimes when we look at what’s going on.”
They say winning solves everything so perhaps the magic elixir for the Patriots will be to get their second win in a row as they face a flailing Roma team this weekend rife with their own woes.
The Patriots have been hit with every possible hardship a football team can. The Patriots lost their star quarterback early in the season and that was only the start of their injury-prone season. On both sides of the ball the Patriots find themselves a threadbare team on the brink of snapping. As the beleaguered team prepares for its next game, the emphasis has been one of endurance and coping.
“In three plays our entire backfield was gone,” said Gilpin. “It hasn’t affected us in practice but in games it has been hard for the kids to overcome the shock of that. In our program we pride ourselves on playing with passion. With the quiet kids we have here and the injuries that have decimated us on both sides of the ball, sometimes it’s hard to get these kids motivated.”
Motivation was not in short order in the Patriots last game against Valley View, however. Quarterback Joe Hidrogo completed 11 of 22 passing attempts for 250 yards and no interceptions. The majority of the yardage went to receiver Gabriel Zamora who racked up 127 yards in just three catches. The win was especially gratifying for a team that has seen much less success than perhaps they imagined at the beginning of the season.
“Our kids are doing the same thing they were before but with just a little more success,” said Gilpin. “We seemed like we were missing that swagger that we have had so it felt good to get a little of that swagger back. Once the kids saw we could be successful, they became better football players.”
For Gilpin, and the entire coaching staff, a season that has been punctuated with adversity has also given them opportunities to teach their players valuable off-field lessons.
“I don’t care if we lose the next four ball games,” said Gilpin. “We have to learn to deal with adversity. We’re not sending a lot of these kids to play in the next level but we are sending them out into society and the workforce. We talk about being better sons, students, fathers and husbands. Those are the things that when things go wrong in the future we try to teach them not to quit. We didn’t expect to be 2-4 at the beginning of the season but here we are and we’re not going to quit.”
Roma, a team struggling in its own right, would love nothing more than just that. The Gladiators were beaten in last week’s league match against the Weslaco East Wildcats 36-7. The Gladiators will be looking to exact a certain amount of frustration on the Patriots as they cope with their 2-3 record.
The Gladiators record, though, isn’t fooling Gilpin.
“They’re big and then they’re bigger and then you look at the film and then they’re even bigger,” said Gilpin. “We’re going to have to make something happen with the opportunities that we get. They throw the ball well and they run the ball well. I’m certainly not excited about lining up against them for homecoming.”
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