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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Pecos Eagles - Odessa American: Football

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Posted: Monday, August 19, 2019 11:45 pm

PECOS When asked about the most important lesson he learned last year, Pecos  head coach Chad Olson focused on relationships.

The new man in charge of the Eagles program arrived in Pecos a year ago as the new offensive coordinator under then head coach Chris Jones.

Lots of parts have shuffled around since then, including the announced retirement of Jones last month, as well as defensive coordinator Ray Carroll leaving to take the head coaching job at Class 3A Anthony.

But Olson is still there and believes that the connections made a year ago can help the Eagles find more success after finishing 1-9 in 2018.

“We’re in the relationship business and that’s what we’re here for as coaches,” Olson said. “The relationships I built with the kids over the last year helped make this an easy transition.

“I’ll continue to call the plays so the kids will hear the same voice as before.”  

Another area that should help Pecos is the experience of his returners.

The Eagles have 13 starters back and Olson says the lessons learned last year were eye-opening.

“It was a rough year on the field but these kids playing now for us have been really resilient,” he said. “They understand our expectations and they keep showing up every day to do their job and keep working.”

One returner motivated to erase the sting of last year’s disappointment is senior linebacker Gary Salcido. Olson named Salcido as one of his leaders on the defensive side of the ball and he’s ready to make the most of that opportunity.

“We just have to get everyone here to work, show up every day and ball out,” Salcido said. “I’m just trying to win as many games as we can and do my part to help us be a great team.”

Salcido, along with defensive lineman Tony Armendariz, are back to help guide the defense. Having Armendariz back in the mix is something that Olson is excited about.

“Tony got hurt for us early last year,” he said. “But he was here every day working and he was a coach on the field out there with us.”

On the other side of the ball, Olson has a good mix of newcomers will help the returners.

Among the newcomers expected to play a big role is junior center Hayden Hopkins. Hopkins arrives after spending last season at China Spring and he too is ready to step in and get acquainted to what the Eagles are trying to do.

“We’ve had good attitude and effort in practice so far and we’re just working to get better,” Hopkins said. “We’re just trying to make a big improvement on the offensive line because if you control the line, you control the game.”

Wide receiver Ezekiel Saldana and Armando Ortega are also new to the varsity and Olson expects big things out of both players.

But with the coming and going of new pieces, he’s emphasizing the need to pay attention to detail.

“Sometimes, it’s easy to focus on the big picture but the details are where you’re going to make your money in football,” Olson said. “Those are the types of things you want to start seeing to come together.”

That process of coming together also applies to events off the field.

Last year’s starting quarterback and wide receiver combination of Jonathan Aguilar and Ethan Medina were in line for big senior seasons in 2019.

Tragedy struck in January when both student-athletes were killed in a car accident. It was an event that moved the focus inward for the team.

“It drew us together,” Olson said. “We were putting arms around people and just loving each other because it affected everyone. It’s a life-changing event that a lot of people don’t go through and for us to go through that; it draws us closer to our kids and our community.”

That’s where having a familiar voice to lean on can be helpful as the Eagles move forward on the field..

“He’s always here for us,” Hopkins said of Olson. “If you need him, he’ll help you. He can coach you at any position and he’s just about encouragement and being there for you.”

“We just know what to expect,” Salcido said. “He always wants to go us as fast as we can and just have to come out ready to play like we have so far.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

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