As the Longhorns get ready for their 8th trip in program history to the regional semifinals, they can't help but think of the angel on their shoulders and a young man that has inspired them all both on and off the football field.
The 2019 football season has been one dedicated to Jalen Garcia, a young man that should have been a big part of this team on the field if not for cancer that would take his life just a couple weeks ago.
"He's brought a lot of strength, a lot of belief and a lot of grit to this football team and he's been a big part of this program since he started battling this battle with cancer." (David Sanchez, Head Coach)
"He was just a loving brother to us, he treated everyone the same. He had no enemies, he just came out here and even though what he was going through he gave it his all every day." (Jack Sanchez, Safety)
To a man, everyone with the Longhorns tells of their experience with Garcia and the feeling of him still being with them even after his passing.
"Before every practice, every meeting, every team bonding, Jalen was a part of it and he's literally the heart and soul of the program." (Ricky Chapa, Wide Receiver)
"I know he's next to me after every snap, every touchdown, every play of the game, shaking my hand, giving me a heads up and I know he's smiling down at us right now." (Wayo Huerta, Quarterback)
"We feel like we have the 12th man on our team and we ask him for strength and he's been there for us, just a special young man." (D. Sanchez)
They know he'd love nothing more than to see his longhorns make history with a win this Friday.
"We know this is what he would want because he loved the game of football and he showed us to always have the strength and courage to carry on, to keep fighting no matter the situation and to always have faith in God." (Hector Benavides, Linebacker)
"He wanted us to pull off this goal, this was one of his dreams and I feel like if we can live that, he can experience that dream through us." (Chapa)
"He was a friend to all of us, we all miss him but we know he's in a better place resting and we just want to do it for him, it was his dream." (Tristian Vela, Cornerback)
To pull off the win though will take leaning on some of the lessons Jalen taught the Longhorns about grit, toughness and most of all togetherness.
"It's really going to be counting on each other and everyone playing together and playing like a family like we've been doing. I feel like if we play together then it doesn't matter, I know everyone is counting us out but all we need is each other and as long as we believe in ourselves, we can pull off anything." (Chapa)
"It would be the best feeling in the world, everyone is just pushing in the same direction and it would mean everything to us." (Benavides)
And if they can come together then this team could be heading where no other Gateway City team has, the 4th round.
"All the work we've put in during these four years, the track, the off seasons, all the spring ball, all the work it would just make sense of why did four years of what we went through." (J. Sanchez)