Texas High School Football: Alice's Sanchez ready to lead Coyotes in final season
ALICE — Jesus Sanchez is finally in the right place at the right time.
Sanchez played for the Alice junior varsity team his first two years in high school before getting the chance to contribute at the varsity level.
Sanchez, who plays linebacker and running back, has become a key piece to the Coyotes' defense after finishing with 86 tackles as a junior.
"In my personal opinion, he was one of the best defensive players in District 15-5A Division II last year," said Alice coach Kyle Atwood. "Other coaches we've played really stress of how great of a player he is. He plays with a lot of passion, a lot of heart and he really drives our defense. The kids feed off of him."
The late start to Alice’s season was difficult for Sanchez to accept.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Coyotes to begin Oct. 1 instead of Aug. 28 with the other four teams in District 14-5A Division I. On Wednesday, the Coyotes found out their game with Calallen on Friday has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Sanchez was looking forward to his senior year of playing the sport he's loved since he was 5.
“I didn’t think me or the other seniors were going to have a senior year to play football,” Sanchez said. “I'm really glad since we were expecting not to have a season at all."
The Coyotes' only non-district game came against Class 4A Division II Wimberley before opening district a week later against Miller. Alice lost both games, but bounced back with a 28-14 win over Beeville.
The Coyotes' defense forced five turnovers and held the Trojans scoreless in the second and third quarters. Beeville's Jalen Spicer, who is seventh in the Coastal Bend with 455 receiving yards, was held to 24 yards through the air and six on the ground.
Sanchez finished with eight tackles and two rushing touchdowns, which included a 53-yard run to the end zone.
“Everyone was working as a unit,” Sanchez said. “I feel like we were shutting them down defensively, and we kept them from getting big plays. Overall, we played well as a unit.”
Alice defensive coordinator Kory Atwood said he isn't surprised when Sanchez is still one of the fastest players on the field late in the fourth quarter.
The extra work Sanchez puts in with linebacker coach Adan Canales and in the weight room has allowed him to put on size, stay in shape and transcend into the player they hoped he'd become.
"Jesus is something different," Kory Atwood said. "He's gotten a taste of the offensive side of the ball, but he's something else defensively. Come the fourth quarter, he's still the fastest player on the field. His linebacker Coach (Adan) Canales does a great job teaching him how to read plays and getting him prepared for Friday nights."