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20110526_FOOTBALL_Sharyland-Varsity_JV-Team_0320The naysayers say Sharyland football can’t win district again this year. Too young. Too many key players lost. No proven quarterback. The doubters say there will be no three-peat this season with all those things going against the Rattlers.

Yet, there are plenty of reasons to give this year’s Rattlers the benefit of the doubt.

Why?

For one, it starts from the top down. Head Coach Fred Sanchez is a proven winner. Numerous coaches in the Rio Grande Valley have been under his tutelage.

The Harlingen Cardinals may be consistently the top team in the Valley, but the Rattlers have been consistent too – as one of the region’s best football programs. That says a lot about the Rattler coach.

Next, a young Rattler defense will be led by Jacob Rodriguez, easily one of the Valley’s top players. Rodriguez mans the strong safety position, eyeing the field and able to direct it accordingly. Aiding Rodriguez—who is also a potential all-state nominee—will be a big defensive line that includes Andrew Cura and Dakota Crouch.

The offensive side of the ball is a whole other matter. Leading the group at quarterback is still up in the air between Estefan Castillo and Felipe Barrera. Whoever has the responsibility—which many not be solidified until non-district play—has the job of bringing the Rattlers home another district title, not any easy task. There are some options to ease the burden, though. Cesar Valdez hopes to take the spot of Ricky Mata in the backfield and C.J. Cavazos has 4.4 speed to be a nice target offensive target as a wide out.

The schedule will be interesting for the Rattlers as every week it varies from home to away, never providing back-to-back home or away games. The boys will start at home with Brownsville Hanna, who has been picked to finish last in District 32-5A and is coming off a 2010 season having only won one game. Next on the schedule will be Edinburg North, another team with only one win last year.

The non-district game to watch, perhaps in all of the Valley, will be Week 2 when the Rattlers welcome in Flour Bluff. The Hornets humiliated a road weary Rattlers team a year ago and now have to make the bus trip down to Rattler Stadium. Flour Bluff has been picked to finish third in their district.

The district schedule begins with a visit to Donna. The Redskins are a playoff contending team but their personnel have limited game experience.

The second week of October will be perhaps the district game of the year when Memorial visits Sharyland. The Mustangs have the preseason offensive MVP in Matthew Kaufmann, a four-year starter who possesses the ability to run or throw. In addition, Memorial has eight defensive starters returning. Having home field advantage for this one will be crucial for Fred Sanchez’s squad as Memorial will be looking to knock off the champs.

After Kaufmann and Co., Sharyland’s next biggest foe will be the season finale against the Bulldogs of McHi.

2011 may be the toughest year for Sharyland football in some time. However, the Rattlers have a swagger about them and are ready to take on 30-5A again.

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