HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Carrasco among Bronchos helping to bridge the gap

Jesus Carrasco knew he had to step up last season at linebacker for the Odessa High football team.

With a number of new players on the defensive side of the ball, Carrasco took advantage to play as a sophomore, finishing with 29 tackles and one fumble recovery.

Going into his junior season, he says that he learned a valuable lesson from last year.

“When you’re on the field, you can’t be tiptoeing around,” Carrasco said. “You’ve got to go 100 miles per hours at all times. If not, it’s going to show.”

Carrasco is hoping to use that knowledge in learning a new scheme.

The Bronchos are moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-2-5 alignment under new head coach Dusty Ortiz. So far, the transition has been pretty smooth.

“We have a lot more responsibilities by covering gaps,” Carrasco said. “They’re (coaches) putting us in position to make more plays and I think that will be good for us.”

Ortiz added that he’s been encouraged by how well Carrasco has picked up the new scheme.

“You have keys and a certain gap that you are responsible for so all you have to do is just read your key and get in your gap,” he said. “I think he’s adapted really well.”

Carrasco said that the most important thing that he’s worked on during the offseason is getting faster.

“I’ve worked on being quicker on my drop,” he said. “In our district, there’s a lot of fast guys out there and I’ve got to pick up my speed and make sure I get there and cover up.”

That speed can also be useful on the other side of the ball as well.

Ortiz said that he also plans on using Carrasco at tight end when the Bronchos go into those sets on offense.

He said that Carrasco’s versatility gives him a good opportunity to succeed in that spot.

“He’s given us depth,” Ortiz said. “At linebacker, he can really step up into the hole and stop the run or he can drop back.

“Playing tight end, he knows pass concepts and what the receivers are trying to do. He knows the defense so he knows what the defense is trying to eliminate so he can use that when he’s going out on routes.”

Carrasco will be one of a handful of juniors expected to step up in production on the Odessa High defense.

Defensive lineman Da’Mareon Gray is one of those players ready to take on a new role. Gray started on the offensive line last season before moving over to the defensive line for the final four games of 2020.

“I’ve been working on explosiveness and it’s been going pretty well,” Gray said. “We have a whole bunch of new guys that I feel like are going to have a really good season for us this year. “

Both Gray and Carrasco said that the biggest keys on defense will be finding a way to slow down the speed that the Lubbock Monterey offense has. The teams are set to face off at 7 p.m. today at Lowrey Field to open the season.

Ortiz added that both players will be key in what the Bronchos will try to do in order to turn things around.

“It’s big that they already have varsity experience and already understand what that game is because there’s a difference between freshmen speed, JV speed and varsity speed,” he said. “They’re already familiar with that so when the lights come on this Thursday and they’re playing in their eighth varsity game that experience shows so we’re very fortunate to have that kind of experience on defense.”