East's Mark Cavazos, the ultimate teammate
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Francisco Cavazos appeared to be your average supporter at the Battle for the Sword, a night the Titans certainly needed encouragement. He could be seen cheering loudly for his son, Mark, in the stands.
If one knew the context, there was another noteworthy moment in a season his son other than just a win.
Friday he will have one more memory when the Titans' play San Antonio Harlandale in the Class 4A bi-district playoffs.
Mark Cavazos was the Titans starting quarterback for the first six games of the season. He accounted for more than 80 percent of the offense and 12 touchdowns. However, on the night his father was prominently featured, Mark was benched, moved to wide receiver and played some outside linebacker.
He wound up with 31 total yards, a tackle near the goal line and not a complaint after an Oct. 12 victory over Victoria West.
"It's been real fun," Cavazos said. "I started out in high school football as a linebacker, so I'm getting back to my roots and doing what I do best, which is try to go out there and hit someone. You might as well have fun while you're out there."
In eight games Cavazos has lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, outside linebacker, safety, kickoff specialist, punter and kicker. Of that list, running back and safety were the surprises.
"Mark is the kind of student-athlete you want to have on your team," said Victoria East coach Roland Gonzalez. "He's very unselfish. He puts the goals of the team ahead of his personal goals. Ultimately, that's what you want to have in a team setting."
Then, and now, the senior just wanted to play football and win games. After missing most of his junior season with a torn ACL, Cavazos entered the year ready to make up for lost time.
A knee injury, nor being replaced by a dynamic sophomore, or a staph infection have not stopped Cavazos from finding a way to contribute.
Cavazos missed the Titans last two games of the regular season, a 61-42 defeat to Calhoun and a 77-27 loss at Calallen because a cyst on his right side, between his ribs and hip, developed into a staph infection. He spent nearly 10 days in the hospital, but is eager to once again take the field Friday.
"It's going to be exciting," Cavazos said. "It's going to be my first playoff start. It's going to be an awesome experience. Last year I missed out on the playoffs and my sophomore year I didn't get to play on varsity."
His last game was in the Titans' 40-30 victory over Beeville on Oct. 19.
That night Cavazos caught his only touchdown of the season, to go along with his nine passing and three rushing scores when he was the quarterback.
It was just a 10-yard pass from Jonathan Ortega - his replacement at quarterback - but a critical moment of East's season. The connection with 4:57 remaining gave Titans lead they wouldn't relinquish. Cavazos, by the way, also kicked the corresponding extra point to give East a 34-30 lead at the time.
When asked what it's like to play in a shootout, Cavazos smiled and said the momentum swings are exciting.
Gonzalez would probably prefer the Titans are able to produce enough stops to avoid going touchdown-for-touchdown against the Indians. But, there is one thing the first-year head coach and his quarterback do agree on - the Titans offense is playing its best at the right time of the year.
"Our offense has been clicking," said Cavazos, who has 1,323 offensive yards this year, but just 70 since the night his father was featured. "We have great momentum going into every game. We know our offense can put points on the board. Our chemistry has been everywhere, all across the field."
Somewhere near the 50-yard line Francisco Cavazos, and nearly a half dozen others in Mark's extended family, will be there yelling and cheering on the Titans, just like he has all season.
"It's been crazy," Cavazos said about this season. "I've moved around a lot, played a lot of positions, I played a couple positions I didn't think I was going to play. It was pretty wild."