The 2020 season ended sooner than Victoria East wanted it to.

A three-point loss in the Class 5A, bi-district round to Weslaco East left a sour taste in the Titans’ mouth. As a group they’ve been dying to get back on the football field and prepare for 2021.

Monday was their first chance to do so with the start of spring football practices.

“It’s always good getting back on the football field,” said East head coach Roland Gonzalez. “It seems like it’s been a long time since we were out here. We’re happy to be out here and get started again.”

With players restricted to shorts and t-shirts on the first day, players worked to learn the calls and get back into the routine of playing football.

The 18 days of spring practices are a chance for coaches to get an early glimpse of who is going to step up from year one to year two.

“That’s really what spring ball is for, is to see who’s going to step up and who’s going to play and who can do it,” said East offensive coordinator Luke Walters. “We’ve got some great guys in the quarterback, running back and receiver groups that we feel like are going to step up and be great contributors for us this year.”

Offensively, East has to fill the quarterback and running back spots with the graduations of Latavian Johnson and Alan Jimenez respectively, the leading scorers from 2020.

Junior Jadon Williams saw playing time at quarterback and receiver as a sophomore and is being looked on to help meet that need.

“I feel like we have a great opportunity, a great team to go deep in the playoffs, but that’s further ahead,” Williams said. “We have to worry about what’s right now and that’s getting to the spring game and our first game next year.”

Linebacker Trent Zappe and defensive lineman Zakary Mendieta return as senior leaders on the defensive side, but the defense also has to replace losses at all three levels.

“I’ve been going to camps trying to get my footwork done,” Zappe said. “I’ve been in the weight room trying to get stronger, trying to get faster for my team so I can perform better this year than I did last year. Trying to improve my game and hopefully we can go further in the playoffs this year.”

East’s roster is still not at 100% as players are still competing in baseball and track, but the goal is for all the current players to keep improving every practice up to and through the spring game on May 19.

“If we can get one percent better every day then we’re leading in the right direction,” said East defensive coordinator Doug Kent. “We’ve got 18 practices. If we can get 18% better from now to then and then if we can workout during the summer time and get one percent better, we’re going to have a lot of growth going into the season in the fall.”

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