The following is an excerpt from an article submitted to ENLACE NEWS by local freelance writer, Kenneth Roberts. The full article can be found on this publication’s website, or at www.rgherald.com
With their most experienced team in several years, the Rio Grande City Rattlers are eagerly preparing for the upcoming 2017 football season with strong expectations that they will achieve a playoff berth and perhaps even win a district title in the highly competitive District 31-5A.In 2016, the Rattlers surpassed the expectations of many gridiron forecasters with a 6-4 overall record and a 4-4 district mark, including a victory over eventual champion Laredo Nixon. They were on track to gain a playoff berth before coming up short in their final two games against strong Mission Veterans and Sharyland High teams.Head Coach Aaron Garcia, about to start his second season as the Rattler football skipper, insisted, “Our goal this year is to win the district championship, and we believe we’re fully capable of doing that and that we have the talent to achieve that goal…I fully expect the Rattlers to be in the mix for the district title. I think we can potentially be as good as any team in the district.”“We’ll need to stay healthy; we learned last year we can play with anybody,” emphasized Garcia. “We’ll need to finish games on a strong note…We do have an experienced team returning, and they have a great familiarity with the systems introduced last year. We have five starters returning on offense and eight returning on defense.” In its 2017 preseason edition, Texas Football magazine lists the Rattlers as returning six offensive and seven defensive starters.The coach commented, “Our kids have been working hard and are considerably ahead of where they were this time last year…Our kids and parents are really committed, and attendance and enthusiasm at preseason workouts has been really good.”
Garcia explained that “we’ll again be running a spread offense. A big positive is that two of five offensive line starters return, and we return two other offensive linemen that saw significant action last year…We have some new faces at running back that should provide more potency to the running game.”Senior Jason Perez (195 pounds) is preparing to begin his third season as the Rattler starting quarterback. In 2016, he accumulated 2557 yards of total offense, passed for 1625 yards, rushed for 900 yards, and accounted for 21 touchdowns. He harvested 342 and 312 total yards against Mission Veterans and Valley View, respectively, rushing for 183 yards against Valley View and passing for 250 yards against Veterans.
Coach Garcia stressed that Perez “has added a lot of muscle, has gotten faster, and knows the offense even better than before. He has more weapons at the receiver positions and at running back. With the improved supporting cast on offense, he has the potential to have his best season. He has an excellent work ethic and has been working hard all summer. He is a strong runner and his passing should be even better this year.”