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20130823-Palmview-FootballIt’s been said that football is a game of inches. When it came to the La Joya Palmview High School (PHS) Lobos’ 2012 football season however it was more a matter of points; more specifically three points that kept them out of the playoffs. That’s because it was two extremely close losses that made all the difference in the world to Lobos’ head football coach Manuel Flores and his team.

“As I told the kids, we basically missed out on the playoffs because of two key games,” shared Flores. “Two games that we lost by a combined total of three points. Those were the Juarez-Lincoln game and the Edinburg North game which we lost by two and one points respectively.”

Had the Lobos won both those games they would’ve ended District 30-5A play with a 5-3 record (6-4 overall). Not only would that have earned the Lobos their first winning season in school history but it would’ve also all but assured the football program at PHS its first ever taste of post-season play.

The disappointing end to the 2012 season is something that Flores and his staff are not dwelling on. As a matter of fact, they’re doing their best to turn that negative into a positive by using it as a motivational tool for the Lobos’ 2013 season.

“We’ve been very positive with the message to our players this year. We were a young team last year but all the kids that played last year are experienced now so the time has come for us to take it to the next level,” said Flores.

“We feel that we’ve gained a lot of ground in the weight room and we had a good strong showing during the summer conditioning phase,” added Flores. “Along with our added experience, those are positives for us as we move forward in preparation for this new season.”

Palmview will be relying on several returning starters to lead the way through the upcoming season and, if all goes as planned, into the playoffs.

“We are returning Jose Bernal at running back who replaced Mar Gonzalez when he was injured last year,” explained Flores. “We are also returning four out of our five starting offensive linemen from last year’s group. However we are having to replace quarterback Sammy Bacilio who graduated last year and we’re having to replace our entire receiving corp.”

The Lobos’ four returning offensive linemen are Carlos Valdez (C), Angel Gutierrez (RG), Hector Barrera (LT) and Arturo Trejo (LG). Barrera is the sole junior of the group with the others all entering their senior years.

As for who will be taking the snaps from center now that Bacilio has graduated, that is yet be determined.

“Right now we’re taking a look at three quarterback candidates, Ezequiel Huaracha, Marcus Lopez and Christopher Zieske. Ezequiel and Chris are both seniors but Marcus is a junior,” said Flores.

With the Palmview defense ranked eighth in the district last year, there is plenty of room for improvement in 2013.

“We did play a lot of young guys last year which hurt us but that means that we are returning several of our defensive starters,” explained Flores. “Two of our three linebackers, Amador Garcia and Freddy Villarreal, are back. We also have John Alaniz, Eleazar Garcia, Javier Alaniz and Juan Martinez returning on the defensive line. As a result, defensive line is probably one of our positions with the greatest depth.”

“In the secondary we’re returning J.D. Alaniz at right corner, we’re returning Albert Torres, who got hurt last year in the Edinburg game and we’re returning our left corner, Robert Riojas,” added the Palmview head coach.

On paper the Lobos’ defensive unit did struggle last year but what Flores really cares about is how they perform on the field of play.

“We were in a lot of close ball games last year,” shared Flores. “As a result I don’t think that the stats do our defensive unit justice. One of the things that we’ve really been focusing on during the spring is to get stronger and faster and I believe that we have improved in those areas.”

“There’s still a lot of room to improve of course but one thing we can’t use as an excuse anymore is inexperience because a lot of these guys have been out there on Friday nights so they know what to expect,” added Flores.

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