Since taking over head coaching job at Chapin in 2007, head coach Rene Hernandez says the consistency within the program has helped the Huskies maintain and achieve new heights. “We’re all on the same page, we all want to accomplish the same goals and then from there, it’s all about our kids. Our kids believe in what we’re doing,” Hernandez said.
So far in 2016, the Huskies are off to a 3-0 start and are ranked 7th in Region 1 in Class 5A by the THSCA. As an offensive minded coach, many of Hernandez’s teams are known for their ability to spread the ball out to a number of different playmakers. This year, their formula for success has gone through a couple of adjustments and it was something that Hernandez and his coaching staff realized on the bus ride back to El Paso after losing to Canyon Randall in the area round.
“We realized that we had eight guys coming back that we had started,” said Hernandez. “We had four more guys who got significant playing time but at the same time, we only had two coming back on offense and one of them was coming back from an injury.”
The Huskies defense has carried the way for Chapin so far, giving up just 21 points in three games, including a shutout of the Eastlake Falcons in Week 2. The Falcons are considered by many in El Paso to be one of the best offensive teams in the city.
“We thought the defense was going to have to help us grow on the offensive side,” said Hernandez. “They were going to have to keep us in games and let the offense kind of get going. The defense hasn’t disappointed. They’ve come out and played lights out.”
One of those starters is senior cornerback Kevin Licon, averaging seven tackles per game and has two interceptions on the year. He’s been pleased with his own progress this year, but wants the focus to be on the team’s chemistry.
“I’ve played decently well,” Licon said. “but I just keep working hard to help my team and everybody else get better.”
On offense, Chapin will lean on their running game using two “big bruising running backs” according to Hernandez. Junior running back Matthew Zubiate and senior Angel Soto each rushed for over 100 yards in their last game against Pebble Hills and as District 1-5A play starts this Friday, Hernandez understands the value that each running back brings to his team.
“We get these two guys involved, it’s incredible,” he says, “They’re hard to stop. By the third quarter, they have punished the defense. They are hard to bring down and we’re very fortunate to have both of them.”
That wasn’t a luxury that the Huskies had last year. Soto missed all of last season due to a concussion and was anxious to get back out on the field. As the season progresses, Soto says that the two have developed some chemistry in the backfield.
“It’s been great having Matthew back there with me. We both push each other every day to get better,” Soto said. “He’s become like a little brother to me so it’s good to have him out there.”
This Friday, Chapin goes on the road to take on the Austin Panthers in their 1-5A opener. Austin currently sits at 0-4 and have been shutout by the Huskies in two of their last three matchups. While the Huskies have had a lot of recent success against Austin, Hernandez wants his team to stay focused on this week and not on past results.
“We try to keep them grounded as much as we can,” Hernandez says, “We try to tell them every week that if we don’t prepare, you can get beat any time in this game. That’s just the way it is.”