Jr. Panthers Expect Turnaround Season

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The Jr. Panthers’ football team was winless in 2013. Head coach Manuel Ortega knows his team has the discipline and mental toughness to have a turnaround season in 2014.
“We are going to be overlooked (after last season’s performance) and that’s fine,” Ortega said. “We want the underdog role and are anxious to prove our doubters wrong.”
A trio of eighth-graders will be counted to lead the turnaround this season. Quarterback and middle linebacker Steven Ybarra begins his second season running the offense. That experience and a strong arm should allow him to make any play on the field. After switching from being a lineman last year, Cedric Mendoza will play wide receiver and defensive end this year. Mendoza figures to surprise some teams who haven’t seen him at his new position previously. Hard hitting Mando Longoria will make an impact on both sides of the ball.
“(Mando) is a quick kid who isn’t afraid to hit,” Ortega said. “He’s ready to run low and hard to gain extra yards.”
Ortega want his players to have success on and off the field. Discipline, respect, and class are three attributes he wants all of his players to display.
“We win with class and we lose with class,” he said.
Academic success must come before any success on the field, according to Ortega. Hard work and mental toughness are also necessary,
“Football is not an easy game,” Ortega said. “The first team to fail mentally usually loses the game.”
Ortega is eager to teach his players life lessons through football. It’s important to him to prepare these youngsters for what the future has in store for them.
“Football is a game where we have an opportunity to turn these boys into young men,” he said. “We want them to learn how discipline, hard work, and respect can help them achieve what they want in life.”
The Jr. Panthers open their season on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, at Ray.

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