Flyers to face former coach in opener
Three years ago, John Mares was roaming the sidelines at St. Joseph, accumulating the most wins of any coach ever at the school.
Friday, his role will be reversed as the former Flyers coach leads Goliad against St. Joseph in the first game of the 2012 season.
"It's going to be a little weird, but it'll be a good game," said St. Joseph's Robby Medrano, who played for Mares as a freshman in 2009. "He knows us and we don't know all about him, but we know how he is. His teams are well disciplined and well taught. They'll be ready."
Mares takes over the Goliad program after spending two years as an assistant coach there. However, there aren't any personal feelings for Mares headed into tonight's game.
"I've told people before, it's not about me," said Mares, who went to high school and grade school at St. Joseph. "It's about the kids who line up and play out there."
On the other side of the field will be Kevin Auten, who's in his first year as head coach at St. Joseph. While tonight isn't his first game ever as a head coach, the nerves are there.
"Wednesday you always start getting those nerves," Auten said. "I just want the kids to go out and perform well and everything goes good for us."
The key for the Flyers on Friday is a simple one: stop senior Jeremy Pena. As Auten knows all too well, that's easier said than done. St. Joseph has a slight advantage in size, but Goliad has speed along its defensive line with junior Austin Speed and senior Davis Ohrt.
Executing its offense effectively will be important, but Auten does have a little insight into Goliad's strengths and weaknesses. Before leaving for Big Lake, Auten was the offensive coordinator at Goliad.
"I know they have some good guys out there," Auten said. "They play hard. I coached those boys. I know what they bring."
For the Tigers, handling St. Joseph's size up front will be a tough task, specifically Medrano's 6-foot, 315-pound and Joe Lujano-Martinez's 295 pound frames.
"We'll be just fine if we can handle their size up front," Mares said. "Coach Auten has a great offensive mind, as well."
Having coached with Auten for a season, Mares has a feeling of what to expect from the opposite sideline.
"You could probably say that. It does change from year to year though with every coach," Mares said. "We do expect some things, but who knows what will happen."
While both teams would like to leave with a victory, there are other goals each side wants accomplish.
"It's early in the season, so we just need to cut down on the mistakes," Mares said. "I think if we can keep the mistakes at a minimum and take care of anything thrown at us, we'll be fine."
"I want to see us get better," Auten said about his Flyers. "It's a preseason game. Does it mean something? Yes, of course. But does it mean anything in the long run with district and playoffs? No. I want to see us get better and better."
After the game will seem like a family reunion with so many acquaintances on each sideline. For Auten, it will be a small family reunion.
"My mother-in-law is a principal there," he said. "So I want to keep those bragging rights throughout the year."
Friday's season opener will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium in Goliad.