Victoria East has experienced an offseason like never before.

Spring sports were suspended in March because of COVID-19, and the chances of playing football became questionable.

But the Titans were able to begin summer strength and conditioning workouts in June and after another suspension, began working out again Monday.

The UIL moved the start of the year for Class 5A and 6A to September because of the pandemic.

“All I can tell you is God willing, it looks like we’re going to have a season,” said East coach Roland Gonzalez. “We’re taking it day-by-day, phase-by-phase and trying to get to the next step.”

If all goes as planned, the Titans will be on the field to the open the season Sept. 25 against San Antonio Southwest Legacy.

“Our guys have tried to pull something positive out of everything,” Gonzalez said. “Not being able to play has really made our guys hungry to get back to some sort of normalcy.”

The Titans have a majority of players returning from last season’s team, which finished 5-5 overall and 5-3 in district play.

East returns 13 starters in Trent Zappe, Ethan Farias, David Lopez, Hunter Crump, Angel Segura, Latavian Johnson, Alan Jimenez, Terrance Terrell, Evan Brown, Tyrese Jones, Joshua Cuellar, Jhoedy Punch and James Jones.

The Titans also added new offensive and defensive coordinators.

Doug Kent was named defensive coordinator in June after spending last season at Dublin High School, where he was the defensive coordinator, track and powerlifting coach.

Luke Walters was promoted to offensive coordinator during the offseason after coaching the receivers last season.

“We’re really blessed in the staff we have been able to put together,” Gonzalez said. “We lost some key guys, but we brought in some great individuals with great experience.”

The team learned in February that it was returning south to remain with the Corpus Christi area schools.

The Titans rejoined Corpus Christi Carroll, Flour Bluff, Veterans Memorial, King, Moody, Ray and Gregory-Portland.

“It’s a very competitive district,” Gonzalez said. “Based on the situation we’re all dealing with, some more than others, our biggest obstacle right now is that we can start preparing for the field of competition.”

The Titans are hoping to make it back to the postseason for the first time since 2018.

The team saw good things from Jimenez, who rushed for 1,087 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.

Quarterback Latavian Johnson, who split time at the position, was another asset to the team’s offense after passing for 781 yards and seven touchdowns.

East will also rely on receivers Terrell, Brown and Caden Mozisek.

Farias, Zappe and Punch will look to anchor the defense, while Crump, Segura, Cuellar and Lopez will hold down the line.

“One thing I can tell you is how well our kids have handled everything and how excited they are to get rolling,” Walters said. “I have no doubt that we will get to the ground running, and get back up to speed. It’s been one thing after another with these guys getting shut down in March and then July. But one thing our kids have showed is that they don’t get down.”

The Titans open district play Oct. 1 against Corpus Christi Carroll at Buccaneer Stadium.

East will see new district opponent Gregory-Portland in Week 2.

“Gregory-Portland — they’re tough guys,” Gonzalez said. “They’re well coached, and it’s going to be a good test. It will give us a good indication of how we’’re going to do in this district.”

Other key dates for the Titans will be Oct. 9 when they play district champion Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial at home and Oct. 23 when East takes on crosstown rival Victoria West.

“This whole deal has really made it important to our guys — especially our seniors knowing a lot of them have played their whole careers waiting to be a senior,” Gonzalez said. “I really think it means a lot to them, and we’re going to do our best to fulfill those dreams for them.”

Rey Castillo is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached at rcastillo@vicad.com, 361-574-1240 or on Twitter @reycastillo361.

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