After taking part in spring practices, the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers got off to a late start when it came to summer practices, but they feel as prepared as any other team already two weeks in.
A big reason for that was getting in every possible workout allowed from May to August.
“It’s a continuation of spring football in May,” Chargers coach David Cantu said. “Then, June and July, the UIL lets us do two hours a week, which we took advantage of. So to be honest, it doesn’t feel like anything new. We’re out here and it’s August now. We’re just getting closer to gun time, that’s all.”
The Chargers enter 2019 hoping to win back a district crown and rebound from a 7-3 regular season that included a third-place finish in District 16-5A Division I and a subpar ending in which they lost three of their last four games, including a 44-14 bi-district loss to Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial.
Expectations are high once again as the Chargers return nearly 20 players with some varsity experience, including six offensive starters and eight players with some starting experience on defense.
“We have a lot of kids who have a lot of varsity experience and a lot of kids who made a lot of big plays in games already,” Cantu said. “We’re happy we have these guys with that type of experience. We feel like last year was a good year. We made the playoffs, and to a lot of teams that’s their ultimate goal, but there are some things that we left out there. We have that ‘take it back’ mentality.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the first week of practice and even in the spring has been the completely revamped offensive line.
That is going to be looked at as one of the areas of concern on that side of the ball, but Cantu said he has seen big strides from the unit.
The skill position players share those feelings after productive reps through spring practice and the past week.
“The reps in practice with the offensive line have been really good,” wide receiver Damian Maldonado said. “They’re really good, and they look ready and they are prepared. We all feel confident in the offensive line, and we have the weapons around them. We don’t have any doubts here.”
One of those skill players trying to maximize his reps during the first week of practice has been former-cornerback-and-district-defensive-player-of-the-year-turned-running-back Marlon Montelongo.
The ex-cornerback said his transition has been a smooth one thanks in larger part to the program culture.
“All of our coaches have the same work ethic,” Montelongo said. “So switching over, you still have to bring the same energy level to practice. It was definitely a big change with different plays and different schemes, but I’m excited to play offense and potentially making big plays.”
The Chargers will get their first real action next week when they play host to Weslaco High in the team’s only scrimmage, set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Brownsville Veterans.
BVM will open the season by playing host to Rivera on Aug. 30, also at Brownsville Veterans.
Those will be their only chances for live action before the District 16-5A Division 1 opener Sept. 6 against Lopez at Sams Memorial Stadium.
Cantu hopes to see high effort until then, as well as healthy bodies.
“We want to see a commitment level of these kids being here every day like they’re supposed to,” he said. “Also, more than anything, we want to be injury-free entering that nine-week district run pretty soon.”