There was a lot of unknown surrounding El Paso Montwood in the 2016 season. After longtime head coach Chuck Veliz retired, the Rams were looking for a new leader for the program. Enter Ariel Famaligi, who came over from his previous stint as the offensive coordinator at El Paso Del Valle.
The Rams had made the postseason in 2015, but with El Dorado, Americas, Franklin, and Eastwood all making strides, some had Montwood as a team that would be on the outside looking in District 1-6A.
But after Famaligi’s first season, the results look promising. The Rams won seven games and a share of their first district title since 2012 and have two dynamic playmakers on offense returning next year.
Quarterback Andrew Fernandez will be running the offense again next year. The rising senior broke on to the scene as on of El Paso’s best playmakers at quarterback, finishing the year with 3,437 and 29 touchdowns. He’s also proven to be a capable dual-threat, finishing with five rushing touchdowns. He’ll have to cut down on the interceptions, but Fernandez is one of the best returning quarterbacks in the city next year.
He’ll also have a top-flight receiver to target in Tyreese Andrus. The speedy junior finished with 1,231 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year, which included three 200-yard games. Despite battling injuries at times this year, Andrus showed how explosive he can be. Second-leading receiver Tury Cepeda (742 yards, 7 TDs) will also be back and he’ll be another reliable weapon to lean on.
One weapon they will have to replace is their leading rusher, Evan De Anda (1,264 yards, 16 TDs). When the passing game stumbled, De Anda was able to get those tough yards on the ground and gave the Rams another weapon to go to.
Defensively, the Rams will have to replace leading linebackers and tacklers Aaron Apodaca (123 tackles) and Ryan Jimenez (109 tackles), safety Brandon Casas (87 tackles), and defensive lineman Leo Venegas and Philip Frutig. It was a unit that bended but didn’t break and they were part of a lot of shootouts this season. If the defense can find a way to lock things down and limit the high-powered offenses in 1-6A, the Rams should expect to be one of the contenders for a district title once again.
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