Ricci, Hawks look for first win of new season

HARLINGEN – As an offensive coordinator at Richmond George Ranch, Brian Ricci found plenty of success.

During his stint with the Longhorns, the team went 70-18, won five undefeated district titles and, just last year, a Class 5A Division I state championship.

However, as a head coach Ricci remains winless. He’ll be looking for win number one tonight when his Harlingen South Hawks host McAllen High in their 2016 season opener.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Boggus Stadium.

“We are all excited about the game, but I’m not concerned about wins or loses right not,” Ricci said. “At this point I’m just looking for the effort and I think these guys have been showing tremendous effort. We’re gonna be OK and we’re gonna go out there and give it all we’ve got.”

Ricci said senior Brandon Villarreal is expected to start as quarterback tonight. Last season Villarreal was solid, splitting time with Troy Jensen early in the year.

“Brandon has been looking real good,” Ricci said. “It’s been pretty tough on him having to learn a new offense, but he’s picked it up well and I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen from him.”

Meanwhile, McHi enters tonight’s contest with plenty of returning talent on the offensive line but is void of an experienced quarterback since last year’s starter Josh McGowen graduated and backup QB Gunnar Henderson transferred to Brownsville St. Joseph during the offseason.

In a scrimmage against San Benito last Friday, the Bulldogs, who went 6-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2015, struggled mightily on both sides of the ball as they lost 56-0.

“I don’t put much stock into that (loss),” Ricci said. “From what I saw of the Bulldogs, they are a very big, physical team that is very big up front on offense. We’re gonna have to deal with that, but we’re ready. We’ve got good numbers this year so our depth is a positive thing.”