Chargers trying new things during spring football

For the first time since 2013, the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers threw on the football pads for spring football.

The Chargers held their final practice Tuesday, and coach David Cantu and company were in high spirits.

With the finale being Thursday night’s spring game, preparation has allowed players to try new things out on the field.

“Getting ready for the spring game has gotten everybody out of their comfort zone,” the Chargers’ coach said. “We have the coaching staff split and we have the kids doing things out of their norm, which I think is fantastic. There might come a situation where one of our defensive kids may have to come in and play offense, and vice versa. It’s going to be good for us.”

The decision to even participate in spring ball was heavily influenced by the newly elected team captains.

As a result, the Chargers have had solid attendance numbers this spring, with 90 players out on the field Tuesday in preparation for the spring finale. They have been averaging near 115 throughout the month.

The numbers give the veterans a chance to not only sharpen their skills, but get a look at the up-and-coming players set to debut on the varsity roster in the fall.

“This is my first time doing (spring ball) and it’s very good because we get to see what freshmen can do in the varsity setting,” junior defensive tackle Alejandro Villarreal said. “Some of these underclassmen just play freshmen ball, and it gives them an opportunity to see the competition so some of them can see if they can play at the next level.”

Villarreal plays on the defensive line and has taken a look at what is going to be a young, rebuilding offensive line.

Behind that rebuilding line will be returning quarterback Liam Longoria, who had a solid season this past fall in his first season as the full-time starter.

The junior quarterback has liked what he’s seen this spring.

“Having a whole new set of lineman, I think they’ve improved a lot,” Longoria said. “Just having reps against the defense helps. If we don’t have our lineman blocking, we can’t really do anything. They’re a crucial part of our offense.”

Cantu said the offensive line coming along has been a good sign, but so has the team being able to address other team needs.

“A lot of offensive questions have been answered,” Cantu said. “A lot of guys have stepped up and, for example, we never would have realized a guy like Adrian Ramirez was ideal at halfback for us. We’ve also been able to expand on what we’ve been able to do in our passing game. It was also big for our defensive ends to get more time, and they have. It’s been great, the kids have been enthusiastic and it’s been really competitive.”

That competitiveness will be on full display Thursday nightduring the Red-Blue game, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Brownsville Veterans Memorial football stadium.

The game will be played as a traditional scrimmage with kickoffs and punts, but they won’t be live.

Extra points and field goals will be kicked, so there will be a score as well as a winner at the end of the night. That means the friendly competition will be dialed all the way up.

“There’s a lot at stake here,” Cantu said. “Some of these coaches have some friendly wagers, ‘lunch-on-me’ type of things. We will try to make it feel like a game as much as possible.”