After having the full offseason to work with his squad, second-year Brazos head football coach Ryan Roecker is confident in the team’s bond created in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Our mantra this year is F.A.M.I.L.Y.: forget about me, I love you,” Roecker said at the first day of practice on Aug. 7. “The way we started off in the weight room was just introducing our mantra and talking about it; ‘I wear this (gaiter) not for Coach Roecker, I wear this for you. I wear this for Jared Demny or Lance Garbs or Bryan Maldonado.’”
That trio, in addition to some other returners, will look to contribute once again to the Cougar football team that is stepping back onto the Class 3A stage after the biennial realignment of the University Interscholastic League. Brazos will compete against Danbury, East Bernard, Rice Consolidated, Tidehaven, and Van Vleck for the District 14-3A-2 championship.
Roecker compared the Brahmas of East Bernard, last year’s district champion and eventual state semifinalists, to the Shiner Comanches who similarly won their district last year.
“We always want a shot at Mike Tyson, that’s where you get recognized,” Roecker said. “It may not always work out in your favor but you want to measure yourself as a man. Kind of like how Teddy Roosevelt said it, you want to be the dude that had the guts to step in the arena, versus the one that didn’t. In my opinion, the rest of us are all competitive and we’ll battle.”
The head coach expected some fireworks from the district competition this year but at the end of the day, he hopes that the team could be something the community can throw their support behind.
“I think Friday nights are going to be fun and they’ll give the town a sense of normalcy,” Roecker said. “That’s the biggest thing that we’re trying to do is be a beacon for the town and have everybody rally around us. You’ve had a bad week? Come out and watch the Cougars; take your mind off stuff for a second and let these guys work hard and do things right and represent Brazos and Wallis and Orchard the correct way.”
Although many of Brazos’ key contributors from last year graduated, Roecker said plenty of players saw meaningful snaps last year but even if they didn’t, he hopes the impact of those recent graduates carries through into this group.
“I’ll never discredit the previous group. They came and played their butts off and did a lot,” the head coach said. “Hopefully, even more of that is the legacy and how did you set up those young guys behind you. You were all-district but now, is the guy behind you going to be all-district because of your effort and work that you also did with him?”
DJ Lewis, Hayden Pearson, James Butler, Elijah Wilson, Bryson Bennett and Maldonado all garnered all-district honorable mention last year and return looking to take a step up in leadership and contributions to the team this year.
Although this season has been delayed slightly because of the pandemic, Roecker looked at having only one scrimmage as a positive to allow more time to work on things before interscholastic competition begins.
“That’s the only negative of UIL taking away a scrimmage is the live reps. I think it’s a huge positive right now because we don’t have to move as fast as you normally do,” Roecker said. “Usually it’s a rush of two-a-days and you’re getting into pads and then trying to beat on each other and then four days later you’re going to scrimmage somebody else and you got this in or you got that in. I think it’s great that we don’t actually scrimmage until the 20th.”
After the lone scrimmage of the preseason against Flatonia and Goliad, the regular-season opener will take place on the road at Anderson-Shiro High School on Aug. 28.