For a full photo gallery of the Hanks Knights at practice, click here.
2016 was not kind to El Paso Hanks. The Knights struggled in District 2-5A and recorded their first winless season in program history.
As the Knights prepare to start their new season, they have a new head coach in Aaron Price, who takes over the program with eyes straight ahead and not looking back.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in the past and there’s all kinds of dynamics that go into seasons like that,” said Price, the son of former UTEP football coach Mike Price, “I’ve had rough seasons as a coach and you learn from it and look forward.”
It’s a message that’s resonated well with his new team, particularly the seniors who are ready to wash away the bitter taste of last season.
“The mistakes that we’re made last year have made us realize that we don’t want to experience something like that again,” said senior receiver Nick Frayre.
“The whole team walked in with a different perspective,” said senior linebacker Ivan Moya, “The environment has already changed so much. You can already tell that that everyone is just excited to get back on the field.”
That attitude adjustment has been one of the biggest changes that Price has seen in the program since he took the job back in February. He’s seen an increase in numbers within his team, but he’s also attempting to build the foundation through his senior class.
“We have a real close-knit group of seniors that have built camaraderie being here,” Price said, “The desire is there in this group and I’m trying to get them to understand that they are the leaders on this football team and what they’re doing here is going to solidify what we’re trying to do at Hanks.”
So far, it appears that message has been well-received.
“Last year made us realize that we had to come together as a team,” Moya said, You feel reassured that we have each other’s back and we need to have that in order to snap that losing streak.”
“Coach Price has put a must-win mentality in our heads,” Frayre said, “We can’t think negative; we have to think positive. He’s really increased that chemistry and he’s pushing us like no else because he sees what we can do.”
Both Frayre and Moya are ready to take on that leadership role and Price said he’s planning on putting both players in a position to succeed.
“Nick was one of our shining stars last year,” Price said of his receiver, “When he has the ball in his hand, he’s going to make us better. There’s four or five guys that are difference makers on the team and he’s one of those guys.”
He says the same kind of role for Moya, who will start at middle linebacker.
“Ivan is a vocal leader. He brings a lot of energy, heart, and desire. He works his butt off and he provides that consistent energy that we need to motivate everybody.”
The first test for the Knights will be a challenge as they host District 1-5A co-champion El Paso Andress on September 1. Price knows that the rebuild will take time but feels like his team is ready to take it on.
This program is about positive reinforcement and positive energy into everything we do and success doesn’t always come in the forms of wins and losses,” Price said, “The growth is slow as far as getting better but we’re getting there and we’re working to raise those expectations.”
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