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In the four years that La Joya Juarez-Lincoln High School (LJJL) has been in existence, their varsity football program has had its ups and downs. Unfortunately for Huskies fans, players and former Head Coach Aaron Garcia, the downs consistently outnumbered the ups. As a result, Coach Aaron Garcia is out and Coach Tomas Garcia is in.
In his first ever head coaching opportunity, Tomas Garcia knows that his work is cut out for him. He’s more than ready, however, to take on the challenge of turning around a program that has never won more than four games in any one season.
“The first year the Huskies had four victories. The second year they had three and the past two years they were 2-8 both years,” said Garcia.
To add to Garcia’s challenge, the Huskies who were previously in District 32-4A will be entering the 2012 season as members of District 30-5A. This is the same district that the McAllen Memorial Mustangs and the Sharyland Rattlers dominated last year with only one district loss between the two teams.
Even with the move up to 5A, Garcia is determined to turn the Huskies losing ways around.
“The biggest thing here is that we want to establish a winning culture,” said Garcia. “We want the kids to have something worth fighting for. I know that we’re moving up to the 5A level, but we welcome the challenge and my players are really excited about playing their sister schools.”
While the Mustangs and the other McAllen schools have moved out of 30-5A, the Rattlers, the Donna Redskins and the other two La Joya high schools remain. Joining the Huskies as newcomers to the district are Edinburg High School, Edinburg North, Edinburg Economedes and first year school Edinburg Vela.
“Most of the talk in the newspapers has been about San Benito and that district that was realigned, but our district is tough,” said Vela. “I’ve been in Edinburg for nine years so I know what Economedes, Edinburg North and the Bobcats can do. And now Vela is coming in to the picture as well. There’s no easy team there and there’s no easy team on our schedule.”
As for who Garcia expects to be the Huskies’ toughest competition in the district this year, he knows that perennial winners such as the Rattlers and the Redskins are always teams to be reckoned with.
“You always have to count Sharyland and Donna with their one school setting and then in Edinburg you hear different things about kids moving to different schools, but I think that the Edinburg Bobcats will still be the best team in Edinburg.”
According to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, the Huskies are expected to finish last in the district this year. Garcia plans on using this prediction to motivate his players.
“That’s bulletin board material for us. We’re going to use that to our advantage. We had a successful seven-on-seven here in Mission. We weren’t able to get into the tournaments because they already had their teams, but we participated and we ended up losing just to Mission and to Donna,” said Garcia.
Garcia was glad to see his players get a taste of victory during the seven-on-seven games, but he and his players know that it takes more than seven to win varsity football games.
“It was good for the kids. You should’ve seen their faces when we beat Sharyland. It was like, “Wow.” They understand that we have some good skill kids, but they also understand that you need 11 players on each side.”
With five starters returning on offense and five returning on defense, Garcia thinks he has a pretty good grasp on where his team’s strengths will lie this year.
“I think our strength is going to be our inside the box on defense,” shared Garcia. “Our defensive line and our linebackers will be tough because we have experience there. On offense it’s going to be our skill positions.”
Likewise, Garcia readily admits where he expects his biggest challenges to be when it comes to experience and depth.
“It’s going to come down to our offensive line, which is young and inexperienced, and our secondary. We lost our two safeties and one corner. Those guys are going to have to gel early on in order to come through for us,” said Garcia.
Returning offensive starters for the Huskies include junior Ramiro Garza (QB), senior Pedro Reyes (RB), junior Martin Diaz (RB), senior Michael Rodriguez (RB/QB) and senior Eluid de la Cruz (Rec).
On defense, seniors Israel Garza (FS), Rey Rodriguez (CB), Joe Vargas (LB) and Mario Aguilar (NT), and junior Ivan Garcia (LB) are all returning starters for the Huskies.
According to Garcia, top newcomers that could make a positive impact on the Huskies this year include junior Vicente Garcia (DL), junior Joe Garza (OL), junior Brandon Ramirez (Rec) and senior Kevin Ruiz (OL).
With gridiron victories being few and far between over the past four years, Garcia realizes that other sports have overshadowed the Huskies football program. That is why he is determined to change the mindset at Juarez-Lincoln High School.
“This area has been known for soccer and cross country because this school has done well in those two sports. But that’s where we come in as football coaches. We’re going to change that. We want Juarez-Lincoln to be known as a football school,” he said.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.