Photo by godzilla.lmtonline.com
Friday morning I had the chance to talk to Laredo United coach David Sanchez. Sanchez has been the Horns head coach since 2004 and the past three seasons has led the team to the third round of the playoffs. Last year they went 10-3 and ultimately fell to Judson 45-0. In our conversation we discussed the growth of 7 on 7’s, battling the hot Laredo heat, challenges of coaching down south, and what to expect from the 2016 United team.
Q: Lets start by talking about 7 on 7s, how has the growth of 7 on 7s helped your football team?
”It’s been great, last year we qualified for the state finals at A&M and it was a great experience for our kids, they got to play some great competition and got all the gear, it was a great experience last year for us. This year we didn’t make the state finals and we lost in the final, but it was still good for us. Obviously it helps out skill positions on offense, the quarterbacks and receivers build even better chemistry and it helps the running backs develop catching skills so offensively its great. On defense it helps the defensive backs, but not as much because of the rules, but they can also develop. All in all, 7 on 7’s is positive, I just wish more teams in the south would get a chance to make the state tournament, but other than that it helps our guys.”
Q: You touched on it a little bit in the previous answer, but what are some of the disadvantages that you have with being a team in the south and how do you try and overcome them?
”Regarding the 7 on 7’s, the teams in Dallas and Houston have multiple opportunities to make the state tournament when we have two opportunities and its hard with families and travel to get a full team together. The biggest disadvantage we have when playing those teams though is speed wise, they are a lot faster and sometimes a lot bigger than us and they can control the line of scrimmage and that’s where the game is won. Speed changes the game with the angles and we don’t see that speed all the time, but it’s a good challenge and its our motivation to be the team to win that third round game against one of those teams but the speed is the biggest disadvantage for.”
Q: Being in 6A already the highest classification in the state and seven high schools in Laredo, how difficult is it develop a high-level program?
“Well obviously it would be a lot easier if you combine us (United) and Alexander. We would have so much more talent, but then again there would be a lot of kids who wouldn’t get the opportunity to get to play high school football and go through that experience. More importantly with so many high schools kids get to learn those important life lessons, and all the hard work that it takes, it’s a good deal.”
Q: “How do you handle practice in the Laredo heat and is there something specific you tell the parents that would help make their kids be prepared for practice?
“We have a meeting with the parents at the beginning of the school year. We make sure that they have their kids stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water and make sure that they eat well and make sure they are aware of the color of their urine those types of things. We don’t really have a choice when we can practice, we practice at 4:00pm, which is the hottest time of the day, and the kids know they can get water whenever they want. We have a great group of young ladies that are with position groups making sure the players stay hydrated. We also make sure the players drink a gallon of water before practice everyday, but some do and some don’t. We try and educate them and tell them how important hydration is and we do our best, but it also comes down to them cause we can’t follow them around.”
Q: “What are you expecting from the team this season coming off a nice season last year and rumor has it your son is going to be the quarterback this season?”
“We really have a good group of kids back and very athletic, probably the most athletic that we have been in a while with good speed on both sides of the field. My son is going to be the quarterback; he was a receiver last year, but has played some quarterback the previous two seasons and he thinks he has his best chance to play receiver at the next level, but he understands that this is about the team and everyone wants to win and you have to sacrifice for the team. He’s excited about it and has a little difficult time adjusting to his new role, but it’s exciting for us and we are excited for this season. Our slogan for this season is “You have to earn the right to win” we don’t have great athletes but our kids work extremely hard and show tremendous discipline. Our goal is to be that team to go past the second round because it’s our time.”
Q: “Is there any worry about the team dynamic of you giving him special treatment or do you worry that you might be harder on him than other players?”
“I’m not worried about special treatment, and everyone on the team and he especially understands; I’m going to treat him like everyone else on the team and that’s what makes us strong as a team we are all in this together. I do worry about being harder on him than the other players and I have to try and do a great job when we come home that it’s his time and I don’t bring practice to the house, I can’t rip him at practice and rip him at home. I look at it this way, I don’t follow every kid home so I’m not going to coach my kid 24/7 at home just because I can.”
Q: “Lastly, in your ten years at United how much has changed with the kids getting bigger I stronger, and how the game is played?”
”The training that the kids go through now a days is amazing compared to what I did when I was in high school with the agility drills, and then what they do on their own with personal trainers is a big difference. The biggest difference and I hate to say this is the toughness of the kid might be different, I don’t want to sound bad, but its more of if something doesn’t go your way, being able to work harder and train and try again. Dealing the parents and everyone else has also changed and if something in their mind didn’t go their way is tough. I’ve been blessed to coach here and work with the kids. I tell them good things happen to people that work hard.”
I’d like the thank Coach Sanchez for taking the time out of his day to talk to me. United gets their season underway August 25th against San Benito at home.