East to kick off Gonzalez era in Gonzales
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It's been 288 days since the Victoria East football team trudged off Javelina Stadium in Kingsville, losers in the area round of the playoffs.
Friday night, an offseason filled with change will be a thing of the past, as the Titans kick off their 2012 football season.
A new coaching staff, retooled offense and new defense will be put to the test when the Titans travel to Gonzales.
"(We're) going in there with the confidence that we can win," said junior wide receiver Deondric Lofton said. "We play hard. We try and no matter what we'll play with everything we have."
The Apaches return 11 different starters, 14 in all, from a 2011 team that went undefeated in the regular season for the first time in 48 years. They are picked by Texas Football, and others, to win District 26-3A.
"Every year is a new year," said Gonzales head coach Ricky Lock about his cadre of returning starters. "I think it has to help. They have been in some big ball games before so they understand the magnitude of each game every Friday. That's valuable experience, so, hopefully, it will pay off."
Considering the number of athletes Lock said are on the Titans roster, the Gonzales coach said it will be imperative that his team eliminates big plays.
Lofton averaged more than 17 yards per catch during his sophomore season. The junior could hardly contain his smile after being asked about the opportunity to catch passes from either Cameron Schultz or Mark Cavazos.
"I'm very excited for the first game to see what everyone has and to see all the hard work" Lofton said.
Perhaps the only people who know the identity of the Titans starting quarterback are head coach Roland Gonzalez, offensive coordinator Roger Gonzales and the quarterbacks themselves. Regardless of who takes the first snap, Gonzalez has said throughout the preseason that both players will line up back there.
Whether either East quarterback is successful might be determined in the trenches. The well-worn football cliché about games being won at the line of scrimmage might apply to this one.
"East is big up front," Lock said. "It's going to be a battle and it's going to be a challenge.
The Titans offensive line will be bookended by Trevor Austin on the right and Bo Pullin at left tackle. Gonzales counters with a defensive front where senior Ray Flores as well as juniors Zach Perez-Clack, Jordan Johnson and Damien Airhart all return.