Q&A: Meet new Victoria East coach Roland Gonzalez (video)
May 19, 2012 at 12:19 a.m.
Victoria East will conclude its first football practices under new head coach Roland Gonzalez this week when it holds a spring game Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Gonzalez, 46, was hired from Houston Cy-Springs and Corpus Christi Ray before taking the East job in January. He has a 43-49 career record, with two district titles and four playoff appearances in eight years as a varsity head coach.
Former East offensive coordinator Brad Eblen was a finalist for the head position. He will be replaced by Roger Gonzales, while Oscar Lujan will be the new defensive coordinator for East. Both coordinators previously coached with Gonzalez earlier in their careers.
Before the first practice, on April 30, Gonzalez sat down to discuss his thoughts on the program and the direction it will be heading as the 2012 season approaches.
Through his first four months in Victoria, Gonzalez said the reception he has received from the community has been positive. He looks forward to continuing that relationship as the season approaches.
That quest begins Tuesday night when Victoria has its first chance to get an extended look at how far the Titans have progressed under their new football coach.
Describe your participation numbers and have you been impressed with those considering you have some kids playing who are playing basketball and baseball at this point in the year?
We have had a really good turnout. We are expecting to have between 245 and 265 participants next year with our incoming freshman. Currently, we're at about 157 or 158. We're feeling pretty good about the numbers that are coming out.
How big will those numbers be, whether in spring practice or going forward, considering you lost 21 seniors at just about every level of the offense, defense and special teams?
Coming into a program new. The seniors last year did a great job. We have had a lot of young individuals who have stepped up to the plate and done a good job. I can't think of any position on the field that is not competitive and where we have more than one person vying for a position.
Speaking of positions, what would you say, the offense might look like?
There are so many different things you can do on offense. We always like to come in and evaluate the ability of our players, both physically and mentally. We try to determine what is going to be the best for them. What I can tell you right now is that we plan on being multiple and we're not going to run the Wing-T.
Defensively, the Titans switched from a 4-3 in 2010 to a 3-4 in 2011, do you know what you might run defensively this fall?
Gonzalez: Just like on offense we evaluate of our players. We are basing out of a 4-3, which is good that the Titans ran it two years ago because a lot of them remember the scheme and the transition has been easy.
From what you have seen in the workouts with the kids, is there something that has stood out to you?
From a mental standpoint, I think the basic fact that our players have responded really well to the program and the expectations we have not only on the field, but off the field. That is something you can always build on. We tell our kids if you live right, be right and do right good things will happen to you. We seem to be on that path.
How big do you think that off the field will be to help on the field, whether it's sports or in the community? How much do you think thoses elements will help on Friday nights and preparing for Friday nights?
Being and showing me that you can't expect to be successful on the field if you're not off the field. This state has "No pass, no play," we have expectations placed on out student-athletes regarding their discipline and how they represent our program. As I stated before, we're extremely proud of them because they're doing a great job.
You've been in Victoria for just about 90 days, describe your adjustment to town, how people have taken to you and some of the conversations you've had with people at H-E-B or other places?
My family is still in Houston right now, most of my time is spent at school and my five-by-seven efficiency, so I'm not in the community a whole lot. I do go out to eat every now and then, the reception has been very welcoming. I've coached in small towns before and I'm really excited about the opportunity that we have here in Victoria.
What would you say is the thing you, personally are most excited about considering this is the first time you get to see these kids in pads and potentially hitting each other?
That goes without saying. As I stated before, football is basically a controlled fight. It's a fight with rules, it requires aggression and precision. We're really excited to see our kids.
It's only four months away until you are kicking off against Gonzales.
Actually, from a coaching perspective, it feels like it's next week. We have a lot to do before we play our first game. From a coaching perspective, I feel like it's just around the corner, we're trying to cram to get everything in and everybody ready to participate and play.
How much do you think having spring practice this year will help you going forward because you are new coaches, you have a new offensive coordinator, you have a new defensive coordinator? How much do you think these 18 practices will help you, whether it's 2012 or the future years?
It's very evident right now, in this point in time in our program, that there's no way we could have gotten to where we're right now and been prepared for competition at the level that we plan on competing at in August had we not had spring football. The kids have responded well, the coaches are doing an outstanding job.