When you think of 6A programs that are able to get three rounds deep into the Texas high school football playoffs, the first teams that come to post people’s minds are the powerhouses such as Allen, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Lake Travis, and Cibolo Steele just to name a few. There is one team that does get overlooked in that discussion and it’s located in South Texas just a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Prior to David Sanchez’s arrival at Laredo United in 2003, the Longhorns had only made the playoffs six times since their first year of varsity play in 1964. Fast forward to 2017 and Laredo United has not only made an appearance in the playoffs in 11 of his 13 seasons; they’ve gone three rounds deep in the playoffs four of the last five years and six times overall.
“The first place you have to look at for the success of our program is our kids,” Sanchez said, “They make a commitment year in and year out to do everything they need to do to stay on top and they do a great job of that.”
The success of a program like Laredo United is impressive but it may not get as much attention as some of the other big name programs. Part of that is geography and part of it comes from not having as much of an opportunity to see them play. That said, it’s something that Sanchez is still very aware of.
“I do think we get overlooked a little bit,” Sanchez said, “There’s some great football players out here in South Texas but there’s a lot of well-coached talented teams in this area.”
This past season was another sign that the Longhorns program is still going strong. They finished 10-3 overall and clinched a share of the district title in 29-6A. Quarterback David Sanchez and running back Isaac Velazquez were the two main catalysts for the Longhorns offense to go with an opportunistic defense.
Laredo United’s season ended in the third round with a loss to Austin Westlake and it was a tough way to end another great year. But as they head into 2017, Sanchez enters this season with a goal he’s had for the last few years.
“We continue to set our goals high but one of our biggest goals is to become that first Laredo team to break through that third-round barrier,” Sanchez said.
It’s a ceiling that Sanchez admits won’t be easy to break through. With the current playoff setup, United typically faces a power from either San Antonio or Austin in that regional semifinal. Last year, it was Austin Westlake. The year before, it was Converse Judson. Ultimately, Sanchez hopes that the mix to break through is getting bigger, faster, and stronger and having a little bit of luck.
As for how his 2017 squad is looking, Sanchez is confident that the Longhorns can put together another successful season. It might be a little bit early to tell as to how good his team will be, but the opportunity could certainly be there.
“We’re pretty excited about this next season,” Sanchez said, “I feel like we’re going to be stronger offensively. We’ll see where we are during spring ball and the summer but we’ll be kicking off the season before you know it.”
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