La Joya Juarez-Lincoln head football coach Tomas Garcia is ready to release the beast on his team’s District 30-6A opponents. After taking over a 2-8 Huskies’ team against 4A competition and turning it into a 5-5 5A team two years ago, Garcia saw his Huskies take a step backwards last year as they ended the season with only four wins against six losses.
So what will it take for the Huskies to take a step forward this year? How can the team have a winning season and secure a spot in the playoffs for the first time in school history? Garcia believes that having his team activate “Beast Mode” is the answer.
“Beast mode is something that my defensive coordinator came up with,” explained Garcia. “It’s the same thing that the Seattle Seahawks used and we liked what it meant as far as going all-out from the very beginning of the game. We want to play fast and finish strong, but at the same time we want to start off strong and that’s what being in beast mode is all about.”
“This is especially important with the type of kids we have on our team,” added Garcia. “We’re not very big, so in order for us to be successful we have to be in beast mode at all times. We’ve told the kids that we may put that on our shirts but it’s going to be up to them to carry it out by going 110% all the time and not just in games.”
As a result of the most recent UIL realignment, the Huskies are now part of the newly renamed District 30-6A (formerly 30-5A). Other teams in the district are La Joya High Coyotes, Palmview Lobos, Mission Eagles, McAllen High Bulldogs, Nikki Rowe Warriors and McAllen Memorial Mustangs. While some may see the Bulldogs and the Mustangs as the teams to beat in the district, Garcia is in no way ready to concede the district title to any team.
“McAllen Memorial is probably going to be picked to take everything,” shared Garcia. “They have a very strong team and a lot of tradition. The same thing with McAllen High and Nikki Rowe, but all three La Joya schools have gotten better. Palmview has a lot of numbers and a lot of size and La Joya has even more numbers. So it’s going to be a tough district and it’ll be a matter of peaking at the right time.”
Of all the District 30-6A teams, the Huskies will almost certainly have the least number of players on their roster. According to Garcia that can be attributed to the demographics of families in the LJJL school zone.
“Our numbers are going to be pretty much the same,” said Garcia. “We’ve always averaged about sixty kids on our varsity and junior varsity teams. We’ve always been low in numbers compared to other 5A and 6A schools and I believe that is because most of these kids are first generation football players. Their fathers didn’t play football so they don’t encourage their sons to go out for the team. Instead, they go out for soccer since that is what their parents played.”
Lacking the numbers he would like to have on his roster, Garcia will have no choice but to have some of his players pull double duty.
“What we’re going to have to do with the offensive line and the secondary, which is where we have the most concerns, is to have some of these kids go both ways,” explained Garcia. “Some of our receivers have played in the secondary at the JV or freshman level so I’ll be looking at them going both ways — not the whole game but in crucial situations. Same thing goes for our defensive line helping out on the offensive line.”
With four returning starters on offense and four on defense Garcia does have a core of experienced players he will be counting on to step up and lead by example.
“On offense our strong point is going to be our receiver corps,” explained Garcia. “We were able to get Anthony Mora as a transfer from Palmview. He looked really good in spring ball, during 7-on-7 ball, and so far in practice. Edward Garcia got a lot of experience last year as a starter. Our running back Miguel Cuellar played a lot last year as well. Then there’s Obed Fernandez who is our back-up quarterback as well as our slot receiver and our running back so we’re expecting some huge things from him.”
“On the defensive side, our strong points will be linebackers Dustin Ruiz and Joe Gonzalez,” added Garcia. “In the secondary we have Robert Gonzalez and Rick Gutierrez coming back. Those are our four returning starters on defense.”
The Huskies non-district schedule includes two road games; Pharr San-Juan Alamo (Aug. 28) and Rio Hondo (Sept. 5) and two home games; Veterans Memorial (Sept. 12) and Edinburg Economedes (Sept. 19). Their first district will be at Nikki Rowe, Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m.