By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Port Isabel football players at all levels of the academic system are working hard to get ready for next month’s start of practice. They recognize the importance of advance preparation, which includes many hours of workouts at the high school.
The Press found two junior-varsity players pumping a little – actually more than a little – iron in the weight room this week, and talked with them between reps to get their thoughts.
Sophomore Brian Chavez expects to play both ways this season as a quarterback and defensive back. “Yes sir, I’ve been working out every day. I wasn’t going to work this summer because I wanted to dedicate that time to the weight room.”
Minutes before I talked with Chavez, I watched as he did five squat repetitions with 315 pounds on his shoulders. He also runs a mile a day and does 40-yard sprints at the field with the team. He takes weekends off from the running to practice his passing.
“In the 8th grade I couldn’t throw a spiral and I couldn’t throw above 20 yards. I was just throwing it out there and hoping someone would catch it. This off-season I’ve been working at it with my Dad and with my teammates. I’ve been throwing spirals consistently and throwing over 40 yards with accuracy.”
Brian’s dad, Victor, played as a Tarpon in the late 1980s.
Another sophomore, and varsity hopeful, is wide receiver and linebacker Pedro Cesenes. He is one of many aspiring Tarpon players who believe in the benefits of weight lifting, and he also was doing squat reps with 315 pounds. “They increase our strength and they help a lot with blocking. Leg strength is very important for getting off the line. It helps a lot . . . explosion off the ball. You’re looking at the quarterback and as soon as that ball is hiked you’re off.”
Senior lineman and returning varsity player Nick Marquez is also putting in lots of time this summer in the weight room. “I’ve been in here every day except for one week.”
Marquez pointed out that all the lifting is not just about strength and power. “We not only work strength but speed and agility. The first five yards are the most important thing and for linemen it’s all about the get-off. As soon as that ball snaps you have to be the one to take that first step. If he (opposing lineman) oversteps you it’s basically his game now.”
Marquez reflects the all-but universal sentiment among Tarpon players about the new season; “I’m very eager – been counting down the days since Christmas. We actually started planning right after Sinton. We did our reviews (film sessions), saw what we did wrong, and started going at it.”
“I’m very determined,” Marquez said this week. “I wasn’t happy the way we left off last year. We were the last undefeated team in the Valley. Then we let it slip out of our hands. It didn’t feel good at all. I believe we got over-confidant and we didn’t work as hard in (district games) as we did in the first season. We’re looking to get first place in our district.”
Port Isabel started last season with a 6-0 record, including a 61-7 win over Progresso in the district opener. The Tarpons won only one of their last four district games and they made the playoffs as the No. 4 seed from District 16-4A, Div. II. They lost to Sinton, 52-22, in their bi-district playoff game in Kingsville.
The first day of practice will be Monday, August 3.
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