For a full look at practice from El Paso Montwood, click here.
2016 proved to be a breakout year for El Paso Montwood. Under a first-year head coach and a new offensive system, the Rams rode an explosive offense and an aggressive defense to earn a share of the District 1-6A title. It was a spot that most people did not project them being at the end of the year.
“I think we were overlooked by a lot of people last year just because of how young we were, we had a new coach and we had to adjust a lot,” said Montwood senior safety Gabino Cortez, “We just took it is a compliment and we kept working every day.”
Fast forward to 2017 and the expectations are even higher for the Rams. Division 1 prospects quarterback Andrew Fernandez and receiver Tyreese Andrus are the headliners for an explosive offense that averaged more than 33 points a game.
“There’s going to be a lot of teams out there that are keyed in on me and Andrew,” Andrus said of the offense, “It just opens up our other receivers. You can’t put two people on one receiver because then it creates a mismatch.”
“A quarterback’s dream is to have a great offensive line and I believe that my wide receivers can go out and make any play they can. It’s helpful to have guys like Ty, Tury (Cepeda), Edward (Garibay) and Danny (Aguilar) that are explosive and can make plays.”
It’s an offense that is much more comfortable for them now that they’ve had a full year to learn everything.
“Our offense was learning on the go for a majority of last season,” said head coach Ariel Famaligi, “Now that they have a good grasp and understanding of what we’re trying to do, they’re putting their own stamp on things and just to watch them flourish and see their development has been really cool.”
Meanwhile, there’s going to be a lot of new faces on the defensive side of the ball. With just four returning starters, Famaligi had said that the offense would have to carry the defense at the beginning of the year. That said, he’s seen that unit that’s grown quickly.
“They made so many strides during the spring and summer,” Famaligi said of his defense, “We’re throwing a lot at them because we’re doing a lot of new things this year. We’re going to have multiple looks and be a more multi-faceted defense. The young guys that have stepped in for the graduating seniors have really taken to the new wrinkles we’ve added because they’ve been in the system.”
Cortez, one of those returning starters, also sees the growth from the new faces on defense, “We’ve got a lot of young guys but they bring a lot of energy,” the senior safety said, “They’re still adapting to playing in a varsity environment but they’re going to be good.”
As the Rams prepare for their first game against Wolfforth Frenship, they know that the expectations are to go farther after being eliminated by Amarillo Tascosa in the bi-district round last year. It’s a challenge that the team is ready to take on head first.
“Last year, we embraced the challenge but now I can see they’re hungry for it,” Famaligi said, “We’re ready for the opportunity.”
“It was great to win a share of the district title last year,” Andrus said, “This year, we want to match it and take the title for ourselves. We’re going to have another solid team with a lot of experience. We just need to carry it and get it done.”