MISSION — Defense was the dominant theme of the afternoon at Day 3 of The Monitor’s Media Days for high school football Tuesday at Sharyland High School.

Six teams from District 16-5A DII — Edcouch-Elsa, Mercedes, Roma, Sharyland High, Sharyland Pioneer and Valley View — converged to discuss offseason improvements, the potential of the upcoming season and the competitive district competition facing them all.

The district could very well go through Mission, however, as Sharyland (8-4) and Sharyland Pioneer (7-4) finished atop 16-5A DII, going 11-1 between them throughout district play. The Rattlers and Diamondbacks made the playoffs a season ago along with Mercedes (5-6) and upstart Valley View (7-5), which made the playoffs for the first time ever after a breakout season that began with a five-game winning streak.

“This is a tough district,” said Ron Adame, Sharyland High athletic director and head football coach. “In our particular district, we got matched up with two of the most storied programs here in the Valley as far as football goes and that’s Mercedes and Edcouch-Elsa and, of course, we still have Pioneer, Roma and Valley View who were in our previous district.”

Sharyland will be looking to defend its district title and build upon its undefeated run through district play last season, although they’ll have to make several adjustments first.

The Rattlers only return eight total starters — two offensive, six defensive — and lost about half of their lettermen from a year ago to graduation. However, Adame expressed his optimism about the abilities of his younger players who have all already experienced success.

Sharyland’s freshman and junior varsity teams each went 9-1 last season, and Adame believes that this valuable experience and the consistency of the program will help his younger, newer starters gel quickly.

“Somebody who knows what it’s like to win and to succeed and experience success, I think that’s half the battle. The fact that our sub-varsity kids are coming from successful seasons, I think that’s a reflection of our program and the consistency we’ve had in our program, both within our scheme of things and with the men who are coaching,” Adame said.

“You’re going to have some pleasant surprises and you’re going to have some first-year varsity kids come through, so we’re anticipating that our younger guys who are going to fill those holes to grow up rather quickly. We want them to be ready for district play and we have four opportunities to get things rolling and right.”

As far as expectations, Adame said he and his relatively young team are just going to take it one week at a time.

“Every year we have as our ultimate goal winning that state championship, but you can’t get there unless you make the playoffs,” Adame said. “You can’t get there until you win your first playoff games. It’s a week-to-week process. The most games that a team from Sharyland has won have been 12. We’re looking at prior to winning that state championship, winning that 13th game and making school history. Those are challenges that we talk about and that our kids embrace.”

Adame is particularly excited about his team’s strengths and potential, which he believes could make the Rattlers even more fearsome foes in 2019.

“This particular group we’re fast, we’re quick, we’re knowledgeable within our scheme. I think offensively, our tempo is something our kids are used to and I think it can be a determining factor in close games,” he said. “Defensively, the same thing. The fact that our scheme relies on pursuing to the football. This particular group, the seniors mainly, we saw when these kids were freshmen that these individuals had chemistry that you just can’t coach.”

But throughout the frenzy of activity throughout the day, many players and coaches expressed their thankfulness for Media Day and hoped it would continue for future seasons.

“I like this and the fact that for one thing, I get to see kids from other schools in a different perspective. On Friday night there’s a lot of emotion in the game and all, from the kids I’ve spoken to they’re great kids,” Adame said. “I like it because it kinda helps the media also build that relationship with the players and vice-versa. The coverage for high school sports is very key, sometimes it’s kind of hard to do. Here, you guys are condensing the amount of time you as writers and media members have to spend trying to run everybody up. I think it’s a win-win situation for both the media and for the schools in getting that recognition and publicity and getting featured in the newspaper (and online).”

The Monitor’s Media Days for high school football will conclude this afternoon in Mission for District 16-5A DI. Keep an eye out for more exclusive content from Media Days in The Monitor’s football season preview tab and the RGV Sports Show on Saturday afternoons throughout the season, set to premiere in mid-August.