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20130830-Sharyland-FootballSharyland’s second-year head coach Ron Adame and his staff were late to practice last week when the school’s in-service ran a few minutes over the scheduled time. When Adame and his assistants stepped on the field, they were pleased to find over 100 players organized and warming up on their own.

“I felt like a proud father of a son that’s ridden his bike for the first time without training wheels,” Adame said. “They took it upon themselves to start the practice. It was pleasing to see the leadership within the kids. They know what to do. They just need a little bit of guidance so we’re excited about this year.”

The Rattlers are gearing up to defend the District 30-5A title. Tonight they kick off the 2013 season with a home-opening non-district game against Brownsville Hanna on Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Rattlers Stadium. Sharyland begins district play against La Joya on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. with an away game at Pack Stadium.

Although the Rattlers lost some key players and leaders from last year’s undefeated district championship team that went three deep into the playoffs and finished the season with a 13-1 overall record, you could say that they are in the process of rebuilding, sort of.

Sharyland returns eight of 22 starters this season.

“Number-wise, we’ve got a lot of positions to fill, but the people we’re looking at to fill those positions, they’re hungry,” Adame said. “They’re waiting for their opportunity and their turn. They understood what their role was last year, whether it be a backup on the varsity or them playing JV. They’re just waiting for their opportunity to shine.”

“There’s a sense of restructuring, but when you look at our lower levels, sub-varsities, we went 10-0 with JV, the freshmen went 9-1 and we won district in all our sub-varsity teams, so they’ve experienced success,” he added. “Now it’s just a matter of transferring that success from a sub-varsity level to a varsity level Friday night game experience. Once these guys get their feet wet, they’re going to get the job done.”

Among the returning starters and players to watch out for this season are Mike González (RB), Brandon Garza and Christian “Martini” Martínez (WR), Keith Mora (C), Josué Hernández and Richard Cervantes (OL), Danny Morales (HB), Lance Madden (QB), Sean Landez (FS), David Aguayo (LB), Monte Clair, Alex De Anda and Gerardo Dávila (CB).

“The season looks pretty good, we know our plays and the team is looking good,” said 18-year-old senior LB David Aguayo. “We know we can do it because we did it last year. The juniors and sophomores are looking good. As seniors, we try to tell them to believe in the team, that we’re 11 brothers and on the field we can do anything.”

The responsibility to quarterback the Rattlers this season falls on Lance Madden and Diego Krysler. Madden was the JV QB last season and led the squad to an undefeated season. Madden has gone unbeaten as a QB since seventh grade, according to Adame.

Like last year, Sharyland will implement a spread offense and rely on speed on both sides of the ball.

“We want to mix it up and run a hurry-up style of offense, but when we need to, we can slow the game down,” Adame said. “We want to dictate the tempo of the game offensively. Defensively, we’re going to bank on our overall team speed. We’re looking at ensuring our kids are continuing to fly to the ball, which has made us so successful.”

The Rattlers will have to work harder than last year to reach last season’s level of success, but Adame’s squad feel they are up to the challenge.

“Last year was pretty good, so this makes us work harder than last year’s team,” said 17-year-old senior WR Brandon Garza. “We have a lot of pressure on us because we’re usually the No. 1 team, but this makes us a little more excited for the game so it makes us work harder and do better in our games.”

The Rattlers have a target painted on their back, like they usually do, and it’s a sure bet that the rest of the teams in the district will be gunning for Sharyland’s crown.

“As coaches, we told ourselves, ‘Hey, we’ve got to step it up a notch. Last year was last year, but let’s not hang our hats on last year’s success. That’s just going to make us work harder because we feel we’re the team that other teams in our district are preparing for and they’re looking to knock us off the throne.’” Adame said. “Just like last year, we realize everybody was going to bring their A-game in our new district and we feel that any slip up may give a team like Economedes, who came real close last year to knocking us off, their opportunity. It’s up to us as coaches to ensure that doesn’t happen and we get the job from Monday to Thursday in our preparation, and more importantly on Friday with game day.”

One of the keys for Sharyland this season, as it has been in the past, is leadership. Adame and his assistants got a glimpse of that leadership at Tuesday’s practice.

“We had some pretty good leaders that left last year, but we have a couple of juniors that are doing really well leading this team,” Garza said. “Coming closer actually makes us a lot better as a team. We have to come to practice every day, work our hardest, try to get better with every game, and peak during playoffs.”

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