COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Grandfalls-Royalty Cowboys - Odessa American: Sports

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Grandfalls-Royalty Cowboys

By Tony Venegas tvenegas@oaoa.com, 432-333-7649 | Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2019 12:00 am

GRANDFALLS The 2018 season provided a different challenge for the Grandfalls-Royalty football program.

The Cowboys fielded just 13 players and had to battle through a lack of depth with a relatively young team.

The team overcame those small numbers to finish 10-3 overall, advancing to the Class 1A-Division II regional final before being eliminated by Jayton.

All things considered, head coach Joe Helms says he’s feeling good about the state of the program heading into the new season.

“We return almost everyone so we’re excited about that,” Helms said. “We’ve got several new faces, probably the most that we’ve had in the years that I’ve been here.

The numbers issue that the program had at this time last year won’t be as big of a concern as Grandfalls-Royalty will start the season with 19 players, eight of them freshmen.

Helms also said that they will have enough to field a junior varsity team through the nondistrict schedule, which Helms says will prove to be valuable in the years to come.

“As much as anything, you have a year of growth whether it’s in the weight room and there’s a lot of familiarity,” Helms said. “There isn’t going to be a lot of position changing.

“It adds depth and we’ll get to develop some team cohesiveness and I’m very excited about that.”

Hearing that makes returners like senior spread back/linebacker Oscar Huertas confident that the Cowboys can take another step forward in 2019.

“I think we’ll have a lot of energy on the field at every quarter and just come out and show people,” Huertas said. “We depended on a strong six last year and this year we’ll have more backups that we can depend on. We have to have a strong mindset.

“A lot of people doubted us last year and that fueled us and now we just need to keep putting in the work to show what we got. I think that’s going to help us be successful.”

Another playmaker expected to step up is senior wide receiver/cornerback De’Shaun Rogers. Rogers is back as one of the Cowboys’ versatile weapons on the field and says that a big key this year will be maintaining the same energy from every game when they were shorthanded.

It’s so far, so good in Rogers’ mind, especially with the new faces.

“We played at a really high intensity last year,” Rogers said. “These younger guys bring a lot of intensity as well and we have to play with that intensity, learn from our mistakes, and get after it.”

With greater numbers on the sideline, having that veteran experience in players like Huertas and Rogers is vital to the team’s potential success.

“Neither (Oscar or De’Shaun) are very vocal but they lead by example,” Helms said. “When it’s time to do anything, their work ethic is good.

“They bring a lot of experience and have a very physical nature. It kind of rubs off and shows the younger kids how things should be done.”

The Cowboys have a strong legacy to live up to as the team has gone 64-22 under Helms, which included a state championship in 2013.

The current upperclassmen in the program saw firsthand what it takes to finish on top as younger students and Helms believes that has helped shape his team into what it is now.

 “Anytime you have a season where the expectations are high, they’re definitely hungry for more,” Helms said. “A lot of these kids that are juniors and seniors now were manager-types on the state runs that we’ve made. They see what it takes and the quality of football that we need to play.”

With that in mind, the senior class wants to make sure they do everything in its power to end the season among the best in Texas and leave its own lasting legacy at a program that has had plenty of success in recent year.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Huertas said. “I’m just trying to make it worth it and put in the work I need to in order to be successful this last year.”

Rogers concurred with Huertas’ statement.

“We try to play up to that legacy and work for that,” Rogers said. “Other teams have left that legacy behind for us and we want to try and leave a legacy of our own and go from there.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas