The Springlake-Earth Wolverines’ varsity football team played their first season of Six-Man football last season where they won a district and bi-district title. They are hoping to build off of that success in 2021.
Coach DeLeon led the Wolverines to a 7-4 mark overall last year and Regional play-off appearance. He will be assisted this year by CJ Castillo, Harley Ethridge and Brian Mahler.
“Coach Castillo has been with me for five years and Coach Ethridge is in his second year here,” he said. “I think we had a good summer and our coaches did a good job of getting our kids ready.”
Coach DeLeon talked about where they are this year compared to last year at this time, saying, “We’ve had a full year of six-man experience and now because of that – last year we practiced every second that UIL would allow us, so they were long with a lot of learning and a lot of film trying to teach our kids the differences in the game. This year practices don’t have to be as long, both the offense and defense is pretty much the same. Now we’re just working more on fundamentals instead of teaching the whole game.”
He added, “This year the practices are quicker, we get stuff done and I think in turn our kids our fresher because of it.”
The Wolverines bowed out of the play-offs last year in the second round at the hands of Borden County.
“There is definitely a sense of urgency for the seniors, they know this is the last year,” Coach DeLeon stated. “We remind them every chance we get about that loss to Borden County, because it wasn’t just a loss, they beat us, 77-16, in one half. That was definitely a six-man lesson; and yes it makes us hungry, but it also shows us how much harder we have to work. Having the kids wasn’t enough, they had all of the experience and a bunch of seniors on that team and we looked like a bunch of freshmen and sophomores out there.”
He added, “You couple that with how they beat us in baseball in the play-offs. The way we practice and prepare, we always say can we beat Borden County like this and if the answer is no, then we have to change something. There is definitely a sense of urgency amongst the seniors and they know this is it for them and they practice like that as well. We haven’t played yet, but I think when we do it will reflect that.”
Coach DeLeon talked about the roster, saying, “Senior, Tim Tanaro, is moving from tight end to center this year and Davey Crandall is moving to tight end. Davey is one of those program kids, who put on a little weight and grew a little bit. He doesn’t miss practice, he shows up on time to everything and I think we’re going to be able to use him on both sides of the ball.”
He added, “Trace Goodman, Evan DeLeon, Keshan Holmes and Braxton Ethridge will round out the starting six for us on offense. We say starters, but we try to platoon teams; Roel Fuentes is Keshan’s back-up, but he plays just as much and is just as good of a fullback as Keshan. Junior, Derrick Rosalez, will start for us on the defensive side, but offensively, he’ll be bringing plays in and alternating with some of these guys and he is just a big of threat as the other guys.”
Defensively, the Wolverines will have Holmes, Ethridge, Crandall, Goodman and Fuentes.
“Dory Sammaron is another senior who plays primarily defense,” Coach DeLeon said.
The coach talked about who he feels their vocal leader is on and off the field, saying, “I think our vocal leader is Trace Goodman. He is not afraid to speak his mind and sometimes that is good and sometimes it’s not. We just tell him as long as it is positive it’s OK.”
He added, “Evan leads by example. He is the quiet kid, but he’ll do whatever we need him to do. Offensively, he knows his role and is one of our passers and will do whatever we ask. Davey is another one who leads by example.”
Coach DeLeon stated that he feels their senior leadership is one of their team strengths for them this year.
“I think our senior leadership is our team strength and them knowing and having that sense of urgency,” he said. “They’re good leaders and have a lot of experience on the field.”
He added, “As far as things to work on, I think every day is different. What we try to tell our kids is to stay focused on the season and stay focused on what we have a chance of doing and not letting this opportunity slip away because at our level we feel like we have a pretty good group of kids and those years just happen every now and then at our level, kids run out.”
He added, “If I had to say we have a weakness I would say that I don’t think our kids have grasped the fact that we have an opportunity to make a big run this year and we can’t let it slip away.”
The coach talked about their schedule, saying, “Our schedule was made this way on purpose from the scrimmages all the way through pre-district, because we need to know where we are at prior to getting to district. We scrimmaged White Deer and Valley, two of the top teams in our region and I thought we did well. Then we scrimmaged number one in division two six-man Motley County.”
He added, “We open up with Coach Linman and Whitharral; he is a state champion coach and has been there twice. From our scrimmages through week seven is a buzz saw and then we get a bye and then we go into district. We wanted to play the best teams that we can play so we could know where we are at and know what we need to fix. Hopefully this makes us a good team heading into district.”
Coach DeLeon gave his outlook on the district, saying, “We’re the district champs from last year and the target is on our backs. Lorenzo, Nazareth and Petersburg all have new coaches and Kress returns their coach. I know Petersburg is going to be out for blood after we 45’ed them last year. We have to go to Nazareth this year and we were down 27 points to them last year and came back and beat them, so it’s going to be tough.
He added, “Kress has some athletes and Lorenzo has a new coach, who may get those kids going over there. It’s definitely going to be tough and we’re just going to try and take it one week at a time. We just want to be the best team we can be when district starts.”
The Wolverines open the season at home against Whitharral on Aug. 27th, followed by a Thursday night game on Sept. 2nd at Borden County against Rankin. The rest of their schedule is as follows:
Sept. 10th at Happy; Sept. 17th home against O’Donnell; Sept. 24th at White Deer; Oct. 1st home against Crowell; Oct. 8th OPEN; Oct. 15th Lorenzo; Oct. 22nd home against Petersburg; Oct. 29th at Nazareth and Nov. 5th at home against Kress to close out the regular season.
The Whitharral, Happy and O’Donnell games will kick-off at 7:30 p.m. with all of the other kick-offs set for 7 p.m.
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent