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Titans look to Salazar against Kingsville

By BY ALBERT ALVARADO - AALVARADO@VICAD.COM
Sept. 2, 2011 at 4:02 a.m.


Nic Wallace was called upon to take over at quarterback for Victoria East. But those plans were derailed last week when Wallace suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the opener at Harlingen South.

Entering the second game, the Titans will look in another direction. Backup quarterback Brandon Salazar will take over under center for the Titans in their home opener against Kingsville on Friday after a slew of players saw time last week against Harlingen South.

"He's been doing a good job at practice," said East coach Mickey Finley about Salazar. "But you never really know until you kick it off and the lights come on and the band starts playing. That's the test to find out."

Justin Kalinowski and Mark Cavazos also found themselves in charge of the Titans offense after Wallace went down in the second quarter. Although it wasn't pretty, the rest of the Victoria East offense had to get used to a new signal caller. The Titans pulled out a 44-37 win.

"They weren't necessarily polished, and we didn't expect them to, but they competed and made plays," Finley said.

Last week, the East offense, particularly the passing game, struggled to adjust after Wallace left the game. The four quarterbacks combined to go 0-for-6 passing, with Salazar rushing for 78 yards and a touchdown and Kalinowski adding 54 yards on nine carries.

"He's the guy who has the ball in his hands and everything's got to generate around what he does with it," said Finley about the quarterback position. "It's a pretty big adjustment when you change people."

The Titans' run game could help take some of the pressure off Salazar on Friday.

Against Harlingen South, the Titans averaged 10 yards per carry, rushing for 583 yards and six touchdowns. Johnathan Garner accounted for 322 and four touchdowns, while Gustavo Delossantos ran for 119 and a touchdown.

Although those are big numbers, Finley is quick to point out that the team can't be complacent and they must correct the mistakes that were made.

"We don't ever stay the same, we try to get better," Finley said. "There's room for plenty of improvement even though we did rush for right around 600 yards."

The Titans will face a Kingsville defense that allowed 329 yards on the ground in a 46-20 loss to Beeville last week.

Another area where the Titans will look to improve upon is their defense.

Last week a younger East team took the field. Finley said a total of seven players were playing for the first time on the varsity level against the Hawks.

That was also the Titans' first game using a 3-4 defense, but Finley said it was the inexperience under the lights rather than the adjustments to the 3-4 that led to Harlingen South quarterback Sean Montemayor's big game.

"In football the faster pace and the higher level you get to, you can't afford to take bad steps and get left behind," Finley said. "All those kids were JV players and freshmen players last year and they got away with taking those steps. You can't get away with it anymore."

Montemayor completed 10-of-17 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns last week against Victoria East.

The Titans defense faces a new challenge this week against a dual threat quarterback in John Houston.

Against Beeville, Houston completed nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 85 yards.

Running back Javiel Rojas also had a decent game against Beeville, rushing for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

Finley said a key to containing Kingsville's run game is the Titans ability to play gap assignment defense whether Houston or Rojas is trying to make a play.

"It really doesn't matter who has the ball," Finley said. "We've got to do our job and take care of our responsibilities."

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