COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2021: Pustejovsky ready to see changes take hold for Longhorns

IMPERIAL One of Dale Pustejovsky’s first goals back when he first arrived at Buena Vista was to build a culture of hard work and toughness within the program.

Now, four years later, Pustejovsky believes the team is on the right track.

The hope now is to turn those attributes into a potential playoff spot after the Longhorns finished 4-5 in 2020.

One strength that Pustejovsky hopes the Longhorns lean on is experience.

Buena Vista returns four starters on both sides of the football, led by senior lineman Cole Brauchi.

Buena Vista head football coach (center) gives instruction to his players during practice Tuesday at Buena Vista High School. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

Brauchi will line up at center as well this season and said that one difference that he’s seen early on with his team is starting out in the right frame of mind.

“We’ve gotten a whole lot smarter,” Brauchi said. “We’ve really bought into this and we’re focused on football more than anything.”

He added that one of the other strengths of the team entering the season is the running game.

He’ll be up front for running backs Jadyn and Bradyn Huertas and also provide protection for quarterback Dylan Esquivel when the Longhorns try to get the passing game going.

Esquivel was a first-team all-district selection in 2020 while both Huertas brothers earned second-team selections on both offense and defense.

“We have power where we’re supposed to have it,” Brauchi said.

Bracuhi added that he’s taking on more of a leadership role with the team as one of the senior starters.

As he leads by example, he draws on one of the lessons that Pustejovsky has implemented since he first arrived back in 2018.

“Every little thing counts and that’s what we want to focus on,” Brauchi said. “You fight every day for your spot. You can’t sit around and expect to be on top. You have to work for it.”

Part of that work centers around attention to details, something Pustejovsky constantly talks about with his players.

“We have a good number of kids that are willing to step up and take leadership roles,” he said. “We’ve got a program in place and these kids understand how we do things.”

Buena Vista’s Cole Brauchi (left) goes through a conditioning drill Tuesday at Buena Vista High School. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

Another aspect is making sure the players are in game shape before the team’s opener against Mertzon Irion County as part of the Sul Ross Six-Man Shootout on August 28 at Jackson Field in Alpine.

“We’re trying to build up that conditioning to get to where we need to be to compete,” he said. “The benefit we have is that we have a lot of kids.”

The Longhorns will vie for a playoff spot out of District 5-1A Division I with Marfa, Van Horn and defending district champion Fort Davis.

The road to getting back to the postseason will be a challenge for the Longhorns but Pustejovsky believes that the culture that he’s building will pay dividends with a deeper, more experienced team.

“We have a group of kids that knows what it means to work and how to work hard,” he said. “That’s something that we’ve built on since we’ve been here. They’re hungry and want to be successful and get after it.”

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>> Head coach: Dale Pustejovsky

>> Coach’s overall record: 11-19.

>> Coach’s record at school: 11-19.

>> Assistant coaches, duties: Aaron Notgrass, defensive coordinator.



>> 2020 overall record: 5-5.

>> 2020 district record: 1-3 (Third).

>> Last district title: N/A.

>> Last playoff appearance: N/A.

>> Stadium name: Longhorn Stadium.

>> Base offense: Tight.

>> Base defense: 2/3.



>> Returning lettermen: 4.

>> Returning starters: 8 (4 offense, 4 defense).

>> Key returners: N/A.

>> Key newcomers: N/A.



Date   Opponent        Time        Site

Aug. 28 Irion County  7:30 p.m.   Sul Ross

Sept. 3 Dawson    7:30 p.m.   Dawson

Sept. 10 Grandfalls-Royalty   7:30 p.m.   Imperial

Sept. 17 Sierra Blanca 7 p.m.       Sierra Blanca

Sept. 24  Klondike  7:30 p.m.   Klondike

Oct. 1   Sanderson  7:30 p.m.   Imperial

Oct. 8  Grady       7:30 p.m.  Lenorah

Oct. 15 Open

Oct. 22 Van Horn 7:30 p.m.   Imperial

Oc. 29  Marfa 7:30 p.m.        Imperial

Nov. 5 Fort Davis      7:30 p.m.    Fort Davis