Hawks, 2nd-year coach Brian Ricci eager for strong season

HARLINGEN — The Hawks are now in year two of the Brian Ricci era and with a full season and offseason under their belts, Harlingen South is ready to hit the ground running.

The Hawks, who had spring ball last school year, began their 2017 season Monday and will strap on the pads Friday.

“The kids are excited to be back on the field,” said Ricci. “They had a great offseason and they stayed in shape. Now that we have had a year, the kids are familiar with the system. This year we are able to get one step ahead from where we were last year. We can get deeper into the playbook and add a couple of new things.”

Harlingen South’s quarterback situation is still in question. The Hawks are looking to replace Brandon Villarreal, who directed the Hawks offense last season.

South returns their entire offensive line and a couple of familiar names in running backs Jorge Alicea and Cristian Cortez. Wide receiver Derrick Delgado is now a junior and is looking to make an impact in 2017.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve been out here and it feels great to be back,” said Delgado. “We worked hard over the offseason. Coach wants us to take advantage of the reps we get in practice by preparing mentally and physically.”


—Running backs Cristian Cortez and Jorge Alicea will look for a larger roll in 2017. Delgado is set to lead the receiving core who has two years of varsity experience under his belt.

—Defensively South will be anchored by defensive end Brandon Bennett and defensive tackle Sky Tatum. Along with Bennett and Tatum, Cole Cooley will lead the line backing corps.

—“This is my last year, so I’m ready to get this season going,” said Sky Tatum. “I’m helping the younger guys learn different things like play recognition. We want to pick up where we left off and continue to work. I love football, I love being out here and I feel great right now. I can’t wait for Friday when we get our pads on.”

—“What excites me this year is the competition. Everyone is battling for positions and that has raised the level of competition,” coach Brian Ricci said. “Every position has somebody biting at their heels battling for a spot and that’s exciting. Our strength this year will be along the offensive and defensive line and that excites me. I think that is where we will be most improved from last season.”