MISSION — Last season, La Joya Palmview made the move from Class 6A to 5A and were thrown into the 10-team District 16-5A DI, the Rio Grande Valley’s biggest.
Dave Campbell’s Texas High School Football magazine predicted Palmview would finish ninth. The Lobos saw that and set out to prove the naysayers wrong. They proceeded to go 6-3 to punch their ticket to the postseason after a one-year absence.
“It felt good being doubted. We’re doubted every year,” right guard Alejandro Mendiola said. “We’re used to it already, but we just take it game by game.”
Head coach Margarito Requeñez welcomes the criticism, however. He knows his team use that as motivation to fuel the Lobos’ fire.
“We got the same attitude as last year. People are still doubting us. All those articles that people print about us coming back down, those are motivation tactics that we use with our kids. I’m grateful people doubt us, because at the end of the day, the kids are the ones that prove everybody wrong,” Requeñez said.
The Lobos have long relied on their ground game to get the job done offensively, bowling over opponents and enforcing their will. But with a new quarterback under center for Palmview in 2019, they’re looking to mix things up.
Senior David Gonzalez moves over from the receiver position to play quarterback. He last played quarterback as a freshman, but his athleticism, speed and agility allowed him to excel out wide (587 yards, six receiving touchdowns) for the Lobos as a junior.
“We’re going to try to spread the ball a little more evenly now that we have David at quarterback,” Requeñez said. “He’s going to be one of those kids that you don’t know if he’s going to throw or run. He’s very versatile and we’re expecting good things from him. Now, instead of just worrying about us pounding the ball, they’re going to have to make sure they can stop the pass.”
Gonzalez said he feels the offense has key guys back up front and at the skill spots that can allow the Lobos to succeed.
“It’s a big move, it’s a big position to play, but I feel like I can fit in. It’s about all of us coming together as a team and pushing each other,” he said.
The Lobos lost two of their top rushers to graduation, but the new man expected to carry the load is running back Carlos Peña. Peña’s 690 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on close to 70 carries as a sophomore and Requeñez expects big things from him on the ground in 2019.
On the defensive side, the Lobos return six starters led by four-year letterman and safety Freddy Flores. The senior recorded five interceptions last season to go with 49 tackles. In the past, Flores would focus on the task at hand and lock-in. During his final go-round, however, he wants to be more of a vocal leader for the Lobos defense.
“Got to be more vocal and let everyone know how we’re doing, get us in the right positions. It’s all about coming together as a team, finding that mindset as a defense,” he said.
The Lobos will open the season with scrimmages against Hidalgo and McAllen High before suiting up for a rivalry game against the La Joya Coyotes in Week 1.