WHEN: Friday, Aug. 31 WHERE: Memorial Stadium LAST WEEK: Alice scrimmaged Ray, Cigarroa scrimmaged C.C. Carroll

LAST YEAR: Alice 23, Cigarroa 12

Yotes, Toros improved from 2006

Cigarroa isn't the same team it used to be

Pete Garcia, Alice Echo-News Journal

After two quarters in which the best passes he threw were intercepted by Alice defensive backs, Laredo Cigarroa sophomore quarterback Carlos Cruz was benched.

That was in the first game of the 2006 season. A lot has changed since then. Cruz is a better running and passing quarterback. At the same time, Cigarroa's defense has come to life.

The change began midway through last season when because of an injury, Cruz was worked back into the starting line-up and the team was good enough for the Class 5A playoffs. The rhythm picked up in 2006 has apparently carried over to this season. In the Toros' scrimmage against Corpus Christi Carroll last week, Cruz often connected with receiver Jonathan Castillo for huge gains. Cigarroa went on and won the game situation part of the contest, 7-6.

No, these aren't the same Toros from a year ago who the Coyotes beat easily, 23-12. They're better.

At the same time, Alice isn't the same football team either. They, too, are much better. The program is more comfortable with the Spread formation offense and its speedy defense from a year ago is even quicker. The difference was obvious Friday in the Coyotes' first and only scrimmage of the preseason. Against the Corpus Christi Ray Texans, Alice's offense proved its ability to gain yardage.

"They have a great quarterback, a big line and they're well coached. They're definitely much improved," Alice coach Brent Davis said. "On the other hand, we really are too."

Davis is talking about his Coyotes who appeared to have improved by leaps and bounds from last year's 5-5 season.

The most obvious improvement is in the Coyotes offense. At this time a year ago, the program was still learning how to effectively run its Spread offense, which relies on a one-back, shotgun formation with a fleet of receivers. Whereas the first few weeks of the season were spent fine tuning that offense last year, this year's team, with quarterback A.J. Benavides and running back Deon Hill in the backfield, appears confident and sure-handed.

"Offensively, I think we did really well," Davis said about Alice's scrimmage against Corpus Christi Ray Friday.

"We didn't score as much as I would have liked, but we were able to move the ball against a really good Class 5A football team. I don't think we're exactly where we need to be, but from what I saw (in the scrimmage), we're gonna get there."