This fall sees a new chapter being written at Zapata High School with a new coaching staff in place, but one that's very familiar to football fans around Laredo.
After over a decade of roaming the sidelines at Alexander and Nixon before that, Joel Lopez finds himself back where his football career started as a young man. Coming in Lopez wasn't sure what to make of his new team, but says the changes are going over smoother than expected.
"It was a culture shock but their attitude was in place to make changes. The attitude of the athletes has been very positive and again they welcomed it with open arms." (Joel Lopez, Zapata Head Coach)
"Our workouts are different now, our stretching and all of our plays are new. They have a lot more enthusiasm, they want us to do good and they want us to be better." (Anibal Salinas, Zapata Middle Linebacker)
"We've got a lot more passing game and it's better for Zapata. It's a lot faster game that I look forward to doing." (JD Guerra, Zapata Quarterback)
The biggest change for the Hawks will come with that passing game. Last year Zapata averaged almost 40 rush attempts a game to only ten passes, but expect to see that number do close to a 180 in 2018. Part of that transition is getting the receivers reps catching the ball over and over again but it also means a new mindset for the offensive line.
"Not everything is down hill now, we have to get back off the line of scrimmage. Instead of creating a new line of scrimmage, it's getting back behind the line, those are concepts that are a big shell shock to them." (Lopez)
To make these kinds of sweeping adjustments strong leaders are needed and the Hawks seem to have that in their quarterback and middle linebacker.
"It's real important, coaches depend on us to get everything right and make sure the team is doing everything good." (Sanchez)
Soon it will be time for the Hawks to put it all together on the field in search of wins and they know excuses won't be tolerated.
"I don't play a game to prepare to lose, we prepare to win all our games and that's what we expect, to win all 10." (Lopez)
"We're going to work hard, do what we have to do to get up there. Hopefully take the district title." (Sanchez)
"Just try to take upon our district, work together as a team and make the playoffs and try to go forward from there." (Guerra)