Class 3A/2A Football Previews: Area teams set for 2021 season

Rey Castillo
Alice Echo News Journal
San Diego's Hector Gaza III, left, attempts to catch the ball at the game against Orange Grove, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Alice. Orange Grove won, 56-30.

ALICE AREA CLASS 3A/2A PREVIEW CAPSULES

CLASS 3A DIVISION I

SAN DIEGO VAQUEROS

District: 16-3A Division I

Head coach: Bo Ochoa 

2020 record: 4-2, 3-0

Last district title: 2020

Last playoff appearance: 2020

Enrollment: 380

Returning starters: 7 offense, 5 defense

TOP PLAYERS

OL Asher Gonzalez; OL/DL Jorge Guerra; ATH Hector Gaza; DE Jadon Rodriguez; QB R.J. Valerio; DB Jason Salinas 

OUTLOOK FOR 2021

San Diego returns a core group of talent from last season, but parts ways with four-year starters Brandon Ramirez and Sergio Guerra. Head coach Bo Ochoa said he still likes what he sees in this year's group, and a run at the District 16-3A Division I title is in reach. The Vaqueros advanced to the bi-district round after finishing 4-2 in a shortened 2020 season. Quarterback R.J. Valerio, who will return for his second season under center, said the full preseason is only going to benefit the team in its quest for a fifth straight postseason berth. All-state offensive lineman Asher Gonzalez will anchor the line and Hector Gaza will be a threat on both sides of the football. 

Orange Grove quarterback Cutter Stewart prepares to throw against San Diego in a playoff game, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Alice. Orange Grove won, 56-30.

ORANGE GROVE BULLDOGS

District: 15-3A Division I

Head coach: Mark DelPercio

2020 record: 7-4, 3-3

Last district title: 2016

Last playoff appearance: 2020

Enrollment: 509

Returning starters: 4 offense, 9 defense

TOP PLAYERS

QB Cutter Stewart; WR Trevor Garcia; RB/DB Marshal Saha; OL/DL Lance Lopez; LB Kayden Schroedter; DE Kace Wilkin; DL Victor DelBosque; LB Seth Barnes 

OUTLOOK FOR 2021

The Bulldogs parted ways with 20 seniors from last year's team, but return a talented group on both sides of the ball in 2021. Quarterback Cutter Stewart returns for his third season after passing for 3,407 yards and 39 touchdowns as a sophomore. With the departure of star receiver Conner Eulenfeld, Stewart will connect with Trevor Garcia (505, 6 TD in 2021) as his go-to target. Linebacker Kayden Schroedter also returns on defense after finishing with 124 tackles in 2020. Head coach Mark DelPercio expects Orange Grove to compete for a district title in a competitive District 15-3A Division I

CLASS 2A DIVISION I

BEN BOLT

District: 16-2A Division I

Head coach: Gary Cunningham

2020 record: 1-1, 1-1

Last district title: 2016

Last playoff appearance: 2020

Enrollment: 178

Returning starters: 6 offense, 7 defense

TOP PLAYERS

RB-LB Arnold Navarro, sr.; LB Talaine Mohamed, jr.; RB Dashawn Mohamed, jr.; QB-DB David Perez, jr.; OL-DL Adam Pena, sr.; OL-LB Troy Rodriguez, jr.

OUTLOOK FOR 2021

The Badgers played two games last season because of COVID-19 protocols but return some key players from a team that earned a playoff spot but could not play their game. Cunningham enters his second season leading the team and is hoping to use the full offseason and summer to help establish his program.

FREER

District: 15-2A Division I

Head coach: Robert Williams

2020 record: 3-4, 2-2

Last district title: 2002

Last playoff appearance: 2020

Enrollment: 222

Returning starters: 6 offense, 5 defense

TOP PLAYERS

QB-DB Elliott Ramirez; WR-DB Trey Ramirez; DB-WR John Cantu

OUTLOOK FOR 2021

Freer should be in the playoff mix in 15-2A Division I, and will be looking for wins against Three Rivers and Kenedy to do it.

PREMONT

District: 16-2A Division I

Head coach: Ruben Cantu

2020 record: 5-4, 3-0

Last district title: 2020

Last playoff appearance: 2020

Enrollment: 190

Returning starters: 5 offense, 4 defense

TOP PLAYERS

RB-LB J.T. Torres; RB-DB Andrew Christian; QB Esteban LaFuente

OUTLOOK FOR 2021

Christian was the offensive player of the year in the district in 2020 and is part of a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield with Torres. The two combined for 994 yards in the Cowboys run-heavy attack.

CLASS 2A DIVISION II

AGUA DULCE

District: 16-2A Division II

Head coach: Gary Hartman

2020 record: 1-5, 1-5

Last district title: 2019

Last playoff appearance: 2019

Enrollment: 130

Returning starters: 6 offense, 6 defense

TOP PLAYERS 

WR-LB Donald Mann; WR-LB Eduardo Hernandez

OUTLOOK FOR 2021

An experience offensive line should help Hartman’s transition as the Longhorns look to return to the playoffs after winning one game in is shortened 2020 season.

BENAVIDES

District: 15-2A Division II

Head coach: Marcus Zubia

2020 record: 0-5, 0-5

Last district title: 1985

Last playoff appearance: 2016

Enrollment: 101

Returning starters: 8 offense, 8 defense

TOP PLAYERS

RB-DL Nathan Perez, sr.; LB Daniel Elizondo, jr.; DB Sergio Benavente, sr.; WR-LB Jonathan Alaniz

OUTLOOK FOR 2021

The Eagles begin Zubia’s second season with plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, which could be good for a team looking for its first playoff appearance since 2016. Perez was a two-way all-district player in 2020 along with Alaniz.