Ethan Farias managed a few hours of sleep before Victoria East’s first official practice Monday morning.

With the Titans’ first game of the season nearly two weeks away, the junior linebacker found it difficult to relax.

“It was really hard to sleep because I’ve been waiting for this day since last season,” Farias said. “I felt great coming out so I didn’t mind waking up this early. It’s better for us since we get more work in.”

Farias and the Titans reported to practice at 6 a.m. and hit the field for offensive and defensive drills.

East came out looking to capitalize on a strong campaign after reaching the Class 5A bi-district round a season ago.

“We have to want it and work for it this year,” Farias said. “As a returner, I have to do my part on showing guys what to do on and off the field and help them get better.”

Farias is one of eight returning starters from last season.

Others were quarterback/wide receiver Ethan White, offensive linemen Hunter Crump and Dedrick Porter, wide receiver Koby Lavigne, safeties Tyree Haynes, Cyrus Sanchez and defensive tackle Christian Mancillas.

“It’s a clean slate and the sky is the limit,” said East coach Roland Gonzalez. “We have a great opportunity ahead of us and one of things we need to focus on is creating depth. We have a lot of talented football guys and guys that we need to step up at a high level.”

White will be the starting quarterback when East takes the field for its season opener against Columbia on Aug. 30.

Latavian Johnson could also see playing time with White’s ability to play wide receiver, Gonzalez said.

“We have to execute well and have teamwork,” White said. “It’s a great feeling to know I can switch positions to help the team out. I want to do anything I can to help he team win.”

Other players filling into new roles will be running back William Garley, who missed all of last season with an elbow injury. Alan Jimenez, who played on varsity last season as a freshman, will be his backup.

The Titans will also have new faces on the sideline when the season starts.

The Titans parted ways with offensive coordinator Spencer Gantt, who became VISD’s assistant athletic director in June.

Trenady Offermann, who coached the running backs at Pine Tree last season, will replace Gantt as offensive coordinator.

Luke Walters, who coached the wide receivers at Texas A&M Kingsville last season, will coach East’s receivers this season, while Christian Gonzalez will coach the offensive line and Ben Williams will coach the secondary.

“It feels like a fresh start,” senior wide receiver Levigne said. “We’re picking up from where we left out last year and it feels good. “We have the potential and the right personnel. With the talent we have, we can get the job done.”

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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