PROGRESO — The Progreso Red Ants have found their new football head coach.
Progreso chose to stay in-house and hire from within by selecting special teams coordinator and wide receiver coach Jose Meza to lead the Red Ants football team as its new football head coach.
“I’ve been part of this community for 14 years and I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s a good place to work. My kids attended school here; I have a third coming to high school right now, and they’ve all enjoyed their time here,” Meza said. “It was an easy transition as far as the decision to apply for the position, and when it was offered, it was a great opportunity.”
While schools have been closed for the remainder of the school year, Meza has had an unusual start to his tenure as Progreso’s football head coach, but he feels his familiarity with the program, athletes and fellow coaches will help his start leading the Red Ants.
“Right now, with everything going on, I think it’s going to be beneficial that I already know the students. I’ve known most of these students since they were in seventh or eighth grade. I think we already have a connection, I’ve worked with this coaching staff for quite a few years already, and I know we work well together, and I think that’s going to benefit us overall,” Meza said.
The Red Ants finished the 2019-20 season with a 3-8 record and last place in District 16-4A DII. Despite an 0-3 district record, Progreso received an automatic playoff berth with only four teams in 16-4A DII, and was eliminated after a first-round loss to Rockport-Fulton. Previous head coach Frank Martinez stepped down after three years and a 7-24 record at Progreso.
With a good group of returners back for Meza’s first season at the helm, he feels Progreso can begin to move in the right direction, and it all begins with commitment.
“We’re looking for commitment. We’re looking for kids who are willing to leave it all on the field and give everything they got, and that’s what we have, we have good kids,” he said. “We’re bringing back a lot of experience, they were young last year, so we’re bringing back some good experience on our offensive line and some of our skill positions.”
Most importantly for Meza is helping his student-athletes as best as he and the Red Ants coaching staff can.
“I want the Progreso community to understand that we’re there as coaches to do whatever it takes to get our kids to succeed both on and off the football field,” he said.
But a new head coach isn’t the only move Progreso is making heading into next season. The Red Ants are also moving down one classification from Class 4A Division II level to Class 3A Division I for the 2020-21 school years after the UIL’s latest realignment. The cutoff enrollment numbers for Class 3A Division I for the 2020-21 school years is 350-514. When the last enrollment was done for the 2018-20 school years, Progreso reported an enrollment of 560.
“We plan on being competitive. We are moving down, but at the same time, we were barely a 4A and just had enough students the last two years to be a 4A. I think we’re moving down to more of our level as far as numbers wise with students and participants,” Meza said. “I know we’re still lacking a little on the participation part, but if we can get our kids to buy in to the program and show that we’re working hard, I think that will definitely improve.”
The Red Ants football team will be in the seven-team District 16-3A DI with Bishop, Corpus Christi London, Falfurrias, Lyford, San Diego and Santa Gertrudis Academy.