SANTA ROSA — Another season means another new head football coach at Santa Rosa.
For the previous two seasons, Warriors fans have seen two different head coaches pace the sidelines and this year is no different.
Well, there is at least one difference: New coach Hector Ayala isn’t really new. He has been with the program for the past five years and already has an idea of what needs to be done to turn the program around.
Ayala comes in to replace Gus Cavazos, who was brought in last year to replace Arturo Garcia, who was let go after the 2015 season.
Despite the change, plenty of optimism surrounds the 2017 Warriors.
“The biggest part of this offseason was to change the attitude and I think we accomplished that because our summer workouts were very good, and we had good numbers,” said Ayala. “Of course being from a small community, we had kids that had to work and issues like that, but they made time to come in and find a way to work out.
“If they didn’t come in during the strength and conditioning phase, they came in on their own time and that was a good indication. It was getting these guys to buy into the notion that we need to do stuff not just in-season but in the offseason as well so that it helps us coming into the season.”
The Warriors are coming off a dismal 2016 campaign that saw the team go 2-8 overall and 0-5 in District 16-3A Division I.
However, armed with a new skipper and a new attitude, the excitement of a new season has already resonated throughout the team.
“We’re all pretty excited about the new season, especially since one of our old coaches came back and everybody is pretty happy about that,” said Warriors quarterback Alex Ayala. “Strength and conditioning with Coach (Robbie) Meza was great. He put us through a good workout and most of the guys showed up, and we had pretty good numbers throughout summer.”
“We’re all feeling great, especially after one of the best offseasons I’ve ever had,” said Nathaniel Guerra. “We had about 15 to 30 guys out here daily for summer workouts.”
The Warriors scrimmage against Monte Alto next Friday and at Zapata on the Aug. 25 before starting the regular season against Hidalgo on Sept. 1.
Warriors focused on future, not past
Optimism is in abundance at the Santa Rosa practice fields this preseason. After a disappointing 2016 campaign where the Warriors went 2-8 overall and 0-5 in district, the team is ready to forget about last season and get back into the win column.
Here are a few words from practice by Warriors quarterback Alex Ayala, Nathaniel Guerra and head coach Hector Ayala on the topic.
—Alex Ayala: “Last season is always there in the back of our minds and we don’t want to go through that again. We’re trying to change the program this year and get us into a winning season. Everybody aims for the playoffs and that’s what we are aiming for as well.”
—Nathaniel Guerra: “I don’t really focus on the past. Obviously it’s there, but we worked hard this offseason so we’ll see what happens this season.”
—Hector Ayala: “Last year didn’t go as well as planned. But compared to last year, we were hurting on the offensive line because we weren’t as strong as we are now. But because of the offseason and the hard work these guys put in over the summer, we’re ready for a better year.”
A NUMBERS GAME: Santa Rosa might have opened campwith a total of 34 players, but by Tuesday the roster had already jumped up to 44.
Come the beginning of school, coaches are expecting a few more freshmen to make their way to the football field.
—Hector Ayala: “Everybody’s pretty solid at their positions right now, but we’re not big on depth right now. I think our potential starters are looking good. The bulk of or our experience is on the offensive line and our defensive line; but I think just offensively overall.”