2011 SPORTS PREVIEW: Tigers abandon spread offense as they seek success in tough district
Members of the Floresville Tiger varsity football team break from their huddle during an Aug. 19 scrimmage with East Central.
FLORESVILLE -- With the start of a new year, and a new approach to its offense, the Floresville Tiger football team is looking for some new results in 2011.
While the Tigers began last season full of hope and promise, and with a 4-0 record, the team took a nosedive. The Tigers lost their last non-district game of the year, then went on to finish 0-5 against District 30-4A opponents. With an overall record of 4-6, the team was broken.
“It was tough to take,” said the Tigers’ sixth-year Head Coach John Baker, “but we went back to work right away, trying to figure out what we needed to do.”
The decision was eventually made to have the Tiger offense move away from the spread offense from which it has operated for years, and will move to a more traditional “I” formation.
“The spread offense has a little too much finesse,” Baker said. “We knew we needed to get back to hard-nose football. We are going back to the fundamentals.”
In addition to changing the playbook, the guy calling the plays has also changed, and Baker himself will be the one calling the offense.
“Coach [Jeff] Luna did a great job for us, but I want to go back to what I’ve always done,” Baker said. “I’ve been calling the offense throughout most of my career.”
Baker explained that the Tigers began implementing the changes back in the spring, and said the players have picked it up well.
“It’s been quite an adjustment,” he said. “It’s a complete change in philosophy.”
Another big obstacle for the Tiger offense this year will be in finding a new quarterback. Baker learned this summer that his quarterback would not be returning for his senior season, and that left another large hole to fill.
With Baker now calling the offense, Luna moved over to take over as the defensive coordinator this year. He will assume that position from Coach Jason Pfluger.
“Changes had to be made,” Baker said. “We had gotten away from what we do.”
On the defensive side of the ball, things will basically remain the same for Floresville. Baker did say, however, that he expects his players to be more aggressive.
“We need them to make things happen for us,” he said. “It’s really that simple.”
District 30-4A is a tough place to play,
but there is little the Tigers can do about that. Baker said that in order for the Tigers to survive teams like Port Lavaca Calhoun, Victoria East, Victoria West, and Gregory-Portland, his players must get stronger and tougher -- both physically and mentally.
Baker believes his team’s greatest strength lies in their attitudes and passion for football.
“These kids will play hard,” he said, “I don’t have to worry about that at all.”
Perhaps the team’s greatest weakness, though, is its level of confidence. After last season’s disappointments, and all the changes that have taken place, Baker understands his players may be apprehensive.
“We need some success early, and we have to have some good things happen,” Baker said. “That is what it’s going to take to turn this around.”
When it comes to the list of guys to watch this season, the first player Baker mentioned was senior defensive lineman Jonathan Saldana.
“He is as good as anyone in the area,” Baker said. “He is going to be the anchor for this team.”
Baker went on to include Rafael Arellano, Tyler Snyder, Tommy Pardo, John Handowski, and Matthew Crockett.
“Rafael is just a terrific kid, Tyler is a great leader, and we are looking for a big year from Tommy,” Baker said. “John is one of the best athletes on our team, and I expect Matthew to do good things for us this year.”
On offense, Baker said he is looking for a big year from Charlie Garza, Benny Ximenez, Roby Pennartz, Trey Gillis, and others. He is also excited about seniors Jacob Flores and Dominique DeWalt suiting up this year.
“Jacob is one heck of an athlete, and so is Dominique,” Baker said. “They both played basketball, and I think they will be great additions to our football team. Really, we feel like we will be more athletic than we have been in the past.”
As for the Tigers’ 2011 goals, that is simple.
“We want a winning season, and we want back in the playoffs,” Baker said.