SANTA MARIA – Coaching at Santa Maria High School has been a learning experience for new head coach Steve Flores. The Cougars’ main man had previously been on staffs at PSJA and Edinburg schools.
“Used to coming from programs that have 80 to 100 kids out there,” said Flores. “Coming out here and only have 24 when you get here, it’s a shock. We went to work. We tried to get kids out here and we got it up to 37.”
In spite of the rising numbers, it’s still been a struggle to put together a team. The Cougars lost their starting quarterback and their backup in the season opener. The team’s current quarterback used to be a receiver.
“Bigger schools have 100-man roster,” said junior lineman Israel Martinez who plays on both sides of the ball. “They can choose from whoever they want. Here at small schools, we got to play with what we got. Losing a good guy means adjusting the offense for the next guy.”
With a small squad, a major of the Cougars have no choice but to play both ways.
“Me as a leader we have to make sacrifices,” said sophomore linebacker Marcos Muniz. “Anything to win a game we have to do it. We’re all here to win a game as a team.”
“We’re always lifting,” said senior wide receiver and safety Matthew Sanchez. “We’re always doing this and that. It takes a toll on us somewhat but we’re conditioning and stuff and we’re already ready to play the whole game if we need to.”
The Cougars wrap up non-district play Friday when they host Progreso in the Battle for 281.