HOUNDS HIT IT HARD: Defending 32-6A champions get back to work

SAN BENITO — Long before the sun began to rise over Bobby Morrow Stadium on Monday, the 2018 San Benito Greyhounds were already busy preparing for the upcoming season.

Last year proved to be a banner year for the Hounds as they went 10-0 in the regular season, captured the outright District 32-6A title and were regional semifinalists in the postseason.

But as the dawn literally rose on their new season, the Hounds enter the campaign with a bevy of humongous holes to fill, especially on offense.

Gone is quarterback Erick Retta and the 3,008 total yards he amassed in 2017.

Also gone is running back Tyrone Harper and his 1,589 rushing yards, and 23 touchdowns, not to mention receiver Isaiah Trevino, who hauled in 54 passes for 932 yards and nine TDs a year ago.

And if that’s not enough, also absent from this year’s squad is offensive coordinator Gilbert Leal, who left this offseason to become the athletic director at Brownsville ISD.

Fortunately, the Hounds’ offensive will remain in good hands with the arrival of veteran coach Steve Marroquin, who will take over for Leal as OC. However, the question remains: Can the Hounds keep momentum alive this year?

Head coach Dan Gomez believes they will.

“There is no rearview mirror here, only a windshield,” said Gomez, who is entering his fifth season as the Hounds’ head man.

“Every year a program replaces varsity players with previous sub-varsity players and that’s why our sub-varsity athletes are very important to our program. We are going to squeeze every ounce of energy out of our kids because that’s what we expect and, most importantly, that’s what they expect from us (staff).”

Expected to fill in at QB this season is senior Jacob Cavazos. As a junior last year he was mostly a receiver, catching 18 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown. But he also ran the ball, rushing for 94 yards on 10 carries for a pair of scores.

Cavazos’ main targets this season should be senior receivers Frankie Garcia and Mitch Guajardo. The latter caught 14 passes for 189 yards and a TD in 2017.

Meanwhile, senior Brandon Valdez is expected to take over where Harper left off. Last season he rushed the ball 23 times for 171 yards and hit pay dirt three times.

On the other side of the ball, the Hounds should be set on defense despite losing a handful of solid talent over the offseason, including linebacker Ryan Rodriguez and defensive end Ryan Castillo.

Senior defensive back Nick Castaneda and senior linebacker Avelino Garcia should lead the way this season along with junior DB Hector Avalos and junior LB John Gonzalez.

The Hounds open the regular season with back-to-back road games at Calallen (Aug. 31) and Victoria West (Sept. 7), respectively, then play four in a row at home, including contests against Midland Lee (Sept. 29) and the Harlingen Cardinals (Oct. 12) to open district.