Just two games into last year’s Palmview Lobos’ football district schedule the La Joya Independent School District’s (LJISD’s) Athletic Office announced the reassignment of head coach Manuel Flores and named Margarito “Mage” Requenez as the team’s interim head football coach. Upon the completion of the season Requenez had “interim” removed from his title and he became only the second head football coach in Palmview High School (PHS) history.
Determined to make the most of his first head coaching opportunity, Requenez has been working hard to bring the PHS football program up to the standard he and the Lobos’ fans can take pride in. Coming off a 1-9 season, Requenez knew he’d have his work cut out for him but he saw the first step in this process as getting more students to come out for the football team. That’s because as a general rule, the more players on a team the better the pool of talent the coach has to choose from.
“We have had the luxury of having more kids out here than we’ve had before,” explained Requenez. “As a result we haven’t had to split the kids when it’s time for them to go to either the offense or the defense. That has maximized the time allotted on both sides of the ball and that’s a very big plus. We had an average of 60-plus players in the weight room each day during the summer and we can tell that it’s paying off already.”
“Our numbers are growing by the day,” added Requenez. “Today we had over ninety in practice and my goal is to have over a hundred. That’s way more than we had last year. The best part though is that we’re getting quality and not just quantity including a majority who are also running track.”
As for what changes he is planning on making to his team’s offensive and/or defensive schemes, Requenez has decided to build on what his predecessor started as opposed to starting over from scratch.
“We had a good foundation under Coach Flores so about the only thing we’re doing differently is installing a new offense,” explained Requenez. “Our defense is mostly the same but we have added a few new wrinkles to it. We’re running a 4-3 defense now instead of just having the regular 50 package in there.”
As part of the new District 30-6A (formerly 5A), PHS will be going up against its two sister schools in La Joya High and Juarez-Lincoln High as well as Mission High and the three McAllen teams – Nikki Rowe, Memorial and McAllen High.
“We’ve played against the McAllen schools before,” explained Requenez. “We know what they run and they’re going to be pretty tough – probably the tougher part of our schedule towards the end. But I like the way our schedule is set up and I’m hoping that by the time we get to play them we’ll know what kind of football team we are.”
If the Lobos are going to turn things around this season and make a run at the playoffs as Requenez is anticipating, they will have to rely heavily on their most experienced players.
“I have eight returning starters; four on offense and four on defense,” said Requenez. “We did lose quite a few from last year but the experience that these eight players are bringing with them is irreplaceable. Some of these kids might not have been actual starters but they did play a lot during the year and towards the end of the year I gave them more opportunities to play in order to better prepare them for this year.”
Coming off a season in which the Lobos scored an average of only 10 points a game, Requenez realizes that he will need to get more production out of his offense in order to turn things around. With that in mind, he is making his search for his starting quarterback an open competition.
“I have four players vying for the quarterback position,” shared Requenez. “Two of them, Aaron Gonzalez and Marcus Lopez, are seniors with experience but the other two, Andrew Puentes and Johnathon Zieske, are only sophomores. We’re going to have a multiple offense and not just a spread like we had before. It will be part of our package since we’ve had it six years but it’s not going to be our main weapon.”
The Lobos will be opening their non-district schedule with back to back home games against Brownsville Lopez (August 28) and Pharr San-Juan Alamo Southwest (September 5). They will then hit the road against Rio Grande City (September 12) and Roma (September 19) before opening their district schedule at home against Mission High (October 3).