Tony goes one-on-one with the Louise Hornets’ Head Football Coach, Heath Clawson.
Tony: You’ve been an assistant coach at bigger programs. It’s your 3rd year here. What was the transition like coming from those big 5A and 6A programs as an assistant to being the Athletic Director/ Head Football Coach here at a 2AD2 program?
Heath Clawson: Well one of the things was that I grew up in a small town not much bigger than Louise. So, I understand what the kids go through were they are involved in so many things. I was kind of aware of how those things work. I was also at Poteet which is a smaller school, a little bit bigger than Louise, but most of our kids played everything. I think that’s an important thing that I understood that prior to coming here. I understand that the kids are constantly going and constantly transitioning from different things. Maybe they’re practicing for athletics and then they go to FFA practice. I understand that. I did it myself in high school. That was a big thing. The hard part is that with the big schools in practicing, you have three teams a lot of times. I’ve even been in a program where we had five teams, two JVs and two Freshmen teams. Learning how to practice is probably the biggest challenge – the kids going both ways. Today we did some half-line stuff that we don’t usually have to do at big schools. You have almost every kid is a straight one-way player and are focusing on that and not having to learn the other side of the ball. Maybe just a couple of your major athletes and they go both ways. That is a thing that is a challenge to have to learn how to do but, having been in a smaller school and grew up in it, I can understand what the kids go through.
Tony: Wrapping up the first week of practice, how has practice been so far?
Heath Clawson: This is the best first week of practice I’ve ever been a part of. You are talking about 5 days strung together – every day was a good practice. Three of them were the best practices I’ve ever seen in the first week. It’s hard the first week coming out from the summer. Even if you’ve been up here working out in the summer, it’s totally different when you put that helmet on, that chin strap, that mouth piece and you are going through drills that you are not going through all summer. I’m so proud of the kids and how they came out ready to go this first week.
Tony: The first two years here were playoff teams but maybe not the record you wanted. What’s your outlook for 2018?
Heath Clawson: We’ve got a lot of two and three-year starters. Those guys have been through the fire. They’ve been through the tough parts that we’ve been through the first two years. What they did those first two years, the kids picked it up toward the end of the season and came together and we had success at the end of the season and went on last year to win a playoff game. Now, this third year, I am expecting them to start off that way and push through that all through the season and it will hopefully carry on to a long playoff run for us.
Tony: Tell me about your three captains (Duran Vasquez, Colin Gonzales, and Aaron Cardenas).
Heath Clawson: Those three guys have shown a lot of things that exemplify what it means to be a leader, whether it be being a servant to your teammates, whether it be a guy that kind of helps keep things together, being consistent in your attitude and your handling of things on a day-to-day basis. We have another kid who is kind of the guy that’s says “this how it’s going to be done and if you don’t do it, we are on your butt.” Those three guys have kind of exemplified what we need in leaders and they complement each other very well. From Colin Gonzales, our quarterback, outside linebacker, and safety, to Aaron Cardenas, those guys are both seniors. Aaron is going to play running back, tight end, and defensive end. Duran Vasquez is a junior, he’s a tackle, defensive tackle, and defensive end. They just complement each other so well in what the bring to the table. I’m really proud that I’ve got three three-year starters who are going to step on the field and really lead this group of boys.
Tony: Give me a few kids that no one knows right now, but will know at the end of the year?
Heath Clawson: A kid who has worked very, very hard, who hasn’t played much at all on varsity, got a few snaps last year – Derek Luna is a kid that we are looking for to do some big things for us. We’ve got a couple of freshmen in DD Gaona and Chris Vazquez who we thing might be able to help us out a little bit. And we also have a kid that has come over, who’s the brother of one of our seniors, Kaleb Marek, his brother is Kyler Marek, and we think that maybe he’s going to help us out a lot on both sides of the football as well. We have a sophomore who at the very end of the season came on and I think big things maybe from Rogeric Schooler as well. Those are a few names that might pop up that haven’t popped up in the past are at least not very much. Overall, we are very happy with every position and all of the guys that are rotating in different positions. We really don’t have a first string and a second string. Everyone is pretty much starting, it’s just a matter of when you are going in, at what series, at what position. We’ve got starters backing up people at other positions, so the people that are not quote-unquote “starters” are really starters too. It depends on who needs to come out. We basically have everybody starting just depends who is in at what different time.