After being a perennial playoff team for three decades, Roscoe has gone just 6-25 over the last three seasons.
But with the hiring of new head coach Jake Freeman and offensive coordinator Greg Althof â€” plus a sharp increase in the number of athletes who showed up for workouts last week â€” the Plowboys hope their recent woes will soon become a distant memory.
The hiring of Freeman and Althof brings back two former Roscoe players with strong links to the Plowboysâ€™ glorious past. Both played on Roscoe teams that made it to the state finals 13 years apart â€” Althof was on the 1982 team that faced Union Hill, while Freeman was on the 1995 team that played Thorndale â€” before starting their coaching careers.
Those two teams were the only ones in school history to play for a state championship. This is Freemanâ€™s first head coaching position after being a Sweetwater assistant for four years, while Althof has 26 years of experience and with head coaching jobs at Goliad, Rankin, Alpine and Hamlin. He was Craneâ€™s offensive coordinator before coming back to Roscoe.
Both are eager to shake the Plowboysâ€™ football pro-gram out of its recent dol-drums and bring it back to the prominence and winning its fans are used to.
â€śI fully expect to contend for the playoffs,â€ť said Freeman, whose team is picked to again finish in the lower half of District 7-1A, Division II after going 2-8 overall (2-5 in district) a year ago. However, 41 play-ers showed up for workouts, about 10 more than last season, and there are nine re-turning players who earned all-district recognition.
â€śWeâ€™ve got to get the kids believing and the mentality to change, go out there thinking they win,â€ť Free-man said.
â€śBut the community support has been huge, and that makes a big difference to the kids. (They) need to experience success early and carry it into district. It will be important to get some wins under our belt.
â€śIâ€™ve experienced (great success) as a player and seen it happen. Itâ€™s been a valuable thing for me because I know what it can do.
â€śI always wanted to come back home. I saw Wes Wil-liams (former head coach at Roscoe) do it and heâ€™s been a mentor. I saw the success he had, and itâ€™s something I want to achieve as well.â€ť
The offense will again be led by junior quarterback Cutter Davils (145), who threw for 1,066 yards as a sophomore, with Dillon Freeman (140) backing him up. The receivers â€” Shelton Toliver (180), Jesus Leanos (135), Kevin Lavalais (165), Freeman and Rafael Aguayo (145) â€” also have plenty of starting experience.
Vincent Pantoja (190) will be the primary running back with Max Nemir (160) also seeing action. The starters on the offensive line are expected to be center Domonic Pantoja (300) at center, Chase Cathey (190) and Anthony Ortegon (210) at tackle and Isaias Aguilar (250) and Anthony Ortega (210) at guard. Cathey, Pantoja and Ortegon are returning starters.
Roscoeâ€™s spread offense will try to maintain about a 50-50 balance between the pass and the run. However, the Plowboys â€świll take what the defense gives us,â€ť said Althof, and utilize its team speed to its best ad-vantage.
Returning defensive star-ters are Ortegon at tackle, Pantoja â€” who had 136 tac-kles and was co-defensive newcomer of the year as a freshman â€” at middle line-backer, Jesus Leanos at cornerback and Lavalais at safety. Nemir on the strong side and Aguayo on the weak side are expected to be the other linebackers, with tackle Zack Longoria (175) and ends Toliver and Luis Villa (200) completing the line. Others expected to see playing time on the line are Skylar Richard (6-6, 210) and Sebastian Benivamon-tez (180), with Davila and Jacob Cuellar (140) also getting playing time in the defensive secondary for the Plowboys.