Over the past three seasons, only one United ISD football team has been able to make the playoffs each year, that's the Panthers and they are looking to keep that streak alive even though they have a new man in charge.
Gone is head coach Sergio Salinas to Alexander, and ironically in his place steps former Bulldog assistant Joe Coss making his return to the Gateway City after helping Cedar Ridge get to the state semifinals. The Panthers say the first year head coach has brought a different vibe with him.
"It's a lot of energy, they hype us up a lot, it's a very positive energy, good vibes and they are pushing us to be the best that we can be." (Bryan Avalos, Linebacker)
"It's very different from the past and I think it's a blessing to have them and they do some really great things for us and nothing is about him, everything is about us first." (Efrain Hernandez, Quarterback)
That energy is evident in an early morning practice as the coach gets under center to act as the opposing teams quarterback for his defense to get in reps.
"I just want to show them I want to get down and dirty with them as well. Sometimes you're going to have to get coaches in there to do those things, some of the kids might not watch enough film to know if it's an open handoff or reverse spin to the running back, so sometimes we're going to have to run it ourselves because of the timing." (Joe Coss, Head Coach)
it's not just Coss that's a new face but his coordinators are coming in from Alexander as well. On defense expect to see the 4-3, while on offense Edwin Garcia will get the chance to call plays.
"The best thing you can have as an OC is an Oline coach. I think we brings a good balance to our offense. We're still going to throw the ball and we're going to run it a little bit more and I think we've got the guys to do it." (Coss)
Now comes the time to try and make the playoffs for the 4th year in a row. For the Panthers it's about more than just the guys on the turf, but the crazy amount of support they get from their fans as well.
"They hype us up, they are there to support us in everything we do. Whether we're winning or losing they are always there and we're very appreciative of that." (Hernandez)
"It would not only mean a lot to our program but our community, all our south side family. You know they support us through everything and when it comes to booster club, the families that go, the fans, that would mean the most to everybody else." (Avalos)