Bobcats looking to find their form

RIO HONDO — The Rio Hondo Bobcats will lean on their youth during the 2019 season.

While the Bobcats have some key pieces returning to the mix, the season will be dictated by the youngsters, and whether or not they can grow over the course of the season.

The Bobcats have two returners on offense and four on defense. On question heading into the season will be the quarterback position. Rio Hondo has both Zachariah Rios, a sophomore, and junior Matt Trevino competing for the starting gig.

Throughout the summer the Bobcats did some growing up and gained confidence by reaching the state 7-on-7 tournament. Rio Hondo is hoping that mojo will carry over into the season.

“I think, as a whole, everyone is trying to catch up,” Rio Hondo coach Rocky James said. “I think our strong suit will be on defense because of the fact we have older guys on that side of the ball, and on offense we will have a lot of sophomores, which is fine, and they are a very talented sophomore group.”

Leading the way in that sophomore group is Rios, along with Ismael Rodriguez and Matthew Lopez. While the offense looks to find its stride, the Bobcats’ defense will be led by senior all-state linebacker Joey Ortega.

Ortega and fellow senior hybrid Sam Villines will anchor the Cats’ defense this season.

“I feel real good right now, and I’m excited to see what these young guys can do,” Ortega said. “As a senior, I’m leading by example and with my play. When I took the field for the first day of camp there were no nerves. I’m just excited and ready to play football.”

Teaming up with Ortega will be Trevino, who is looking to start at linebacker for the Bobcats. Trevino made quite the impression last season in the playoffs when he started for an injured Jesus Garay.

“I’m ready for either role, wherever coach needs me, that is where I will be,” Trevino said. “I just need to learn both sides of the ball. I feel great right now and my body is in great shape. My arm is feeling good and I feel great on the defensive side of the ball too. I’m just ready for the season to start.”

While the Bobcats are in a four-team district and automatically qualify for the playoffs, it is the district title that Rio Hondo will be shooting for. Standing in their way is rival Raymondville, the veteran team in the district this season.

“I feel the same as last year when it comes to this district, and it is tough,” James said. “I felt we had the better team last year and we didn’t prove it against Raymondville that night, and they just came out and beat us on both sides of the ball. This year I feel the same way, I think I have the better team but we will see when we get to that game and how our kids produce.”

Rio Hondo will kick off their season Aug. 30 at home against La Joya Juarez-Lincoln.