HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Odessa High gets practice underway in preparation for new season

Odessa High head coach Dusty Ortiz wanted to see where the Bronchos stood following the first practice of the 2021 season Monday.

When it was all said and done, Ortiz, in his first season at the helm of the program,  said he was pleased to see the progress made since he was hired in March.

“I wanted to see where we we’re as a team and we can build on it day by day,” Ortiz said. “We had a lot of good things happen but we had some mental errors and things that you would expect on the first day.

“If we can correct those going forward, which we will, we’re going to be all right.”

The Bronchos took advantage of the first day that teams were allowed to practice since the team did not go through spring practice.

Odessa High School Bronchos football head coach Dusty Ortiz speaks to his lineman as they get set during practice Monday afternoon at Odessa High School’s Pressly Field. (Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

One aspect that impressed Ortiz was who came out to the first day of practice at Pressly Field. The team is temporarily working there as a new turf field is being installed at Coleman Field.

“I loved the numbers that we had today,” Ortiz said. “That was one of the things that I noticed when I got here that they were low and now it seems like they’ve doubled.”

The greater numbers led to a greater intensity during practice, something that senior quarterback Diego Cervantes noticed.

He added that he’s looking forward for the chance to try and help turn around a program that finished winless in 2020.

“Coach Ortiz is always talking about a culture change and I feel like family is a big thing,” he said. “If you have a family that’s in the locker room, you’re going to want to go to war for them and play hard for them.

“That’s one of the first things that he talked to us about when he showed up.”

Cervantes added that he’s also embracing taking on a greater leadership role now that he is one of the more experienced players returning after starting at signal caller in each of the last two seasons.

“The last couple of years, I have had some seniors to look up to but this year they’re gone and I have to be that man to step up,” he said.

Odessa High School Bronchos quarterback Diego Cervantes passes down field during practice Monday afternoon at Odessa High School’s Pressly Field.

Senior linebacker Elias Minjarez also is expected to take on a leadership role.

Minjarez said that he also noticed the raised intensity and wants to make sure that everyone is in the right frame of mind entering the season.

“We’ve just been working on getting everybody here,” Minjarez said. “We just want people to show up and build that winning attitude.”

Ortiz added that he wants the team to focus on the small details in order to be successful.

It’s all part of the change in mindset that he hopes to keep building before Odessa High’s first scrimmage August 20 at Amarillo Tascosa and its first game August 26 at Lubbock Monterey.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do is believe,” Ortiz said. “I think if the kids believe that we’re good enough to do special things, we’ll be able to do it.”

He also expanded on his 1-of-4 mindset that he’s been sharing with the team.

“We just want to be one of the four teams in the playoffs. That’s something we’ve been chatting about in the weight room and those two things are going to be huge for us.”

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