HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Tavarez sets the tone on defensive line for Odessa High - Odessa American: Oavarsity

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Tavarez sets the tone on defensive line for Odessa High

By Tony Venegas tvenegas@oaoa.com, 432-333-7649 | Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 7:45 pm

The Odessa High football team has gone through plenty of growing pains to this point in the season. One constant has been the presence of Ian Tavarez.

The senior defensive end has been one of the staples for the Bronchos as a returning starter and as a team captain.

Ask him about his role on the team and Tavarez understands that how he and the rest of the defensive line play sets the tone for everyone else.

“The little details are the most important thing for us,” he said. “We have to trust our coaches and what they’re teaching us. We are the ones up front on defense, so we help start everything that includes helping the linebackers and secondary get set up.”

Those details have helped Tavarez emerge as a playmaker on defense and he showed his potential back on Sept. 6 against Fayette (Miss.) Jefferson County. Tavarez finished with seven total tackles, recovered two fumbles and blocked a punt to help give the Bronchos their first win of the season.

“Ian is a huge presence and a warrior for us,” head coach Danny Servance said. “He doesn’t quit and that spills over to the other players when you have a kid like that in your program.”

Tavarez has worked hard to get to this position and has been through his own tough journey on the field to get there.

He battled a pair of concussions his freshman year and did not play his sophomore year to take time to recover.

He started to make his mark as a junior, finishing with 15 tackles last season and adding depth to a unit that was relatively inexperienced at the time. He continued to showcase his ability during his senior year, but is now dealing with a knee injury suffered in last Friday’s game against Permian.  Whether Tavarez is on the field or not, Servance knows just how much he means to the team.

“For Ian to come back and play as well as he has is awesome,” Servance said. “He’s a natural leader and the kids look up to him. He’s a smart kid and wants to be good.”

That leadership role is something that Tavarez has embraced head-on and he believes that the defensive line is starting to take what he and the coaches are trying to teach.

“I just try to lead by example for my team,” Tavarez said. “Especially when it comes to watching film and helping the younger guys with the small details. We just have to do our part and make sure that everyone does their one 11th.”

That development has been essential for the Bronchos given the number of new faces taking significant snaps. Those new faces have seen what Tavarez brings to practice and during games, and they try to implement that knowledge to their own games.

“Ian definitely shows that he’s a leader out in the trenches,” junior lineman Caleb Poitevint said. “He always knows what the other guys on the defensive line are doing. He’s hyping us up and does a good job of leading us.”

“He’s on point with everything,” junior defensive end Gary Brooks said. “He always helps us do what we need to do, whether it’s watching film or anything else like that.”

Thanks in part to Tavarez, the Bronchos’ defensive line has started to grow some confidence and Tavarez has taken notice.

“I thought we had a lot of intensity against Permian,” Tavarez said. “That was our biggest game to this point and being in that environment made us play hard. We want to carry over that same intensity to each game.”

That intensity will be tested against an unbeaten Midland Lee team tonight and after not coming away with the victory over Permian, the Bronchos want to have a better showing.

And whether Tavarez is able to help the team in the trenches or not, Servance believes that the younger guys can step up in a big spot.

“I think they understand what we’re trying to tell them on defense,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of young players that had to grow up in a hurry. They’re starting to understand the schemes and what we’re trying to do and we’ll have to be ready against a good Midland Lee team on Friday night.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas