By Moses Leos III
There was a time when Lehman High Lobos wide receiver Jon Herrera was taking instruction from the senior leaders around him.
Now a senior, Herrera joins a group of upperclassmen who guide a young Lobo program through the first week of summer practice.
“I push the guys like I was pushed when I was a sophomore. That helped me out,” Herrera said. “I go and take what I learned from those seniors and upperclassmen, and I give it off to them.”
It’s youth that third year head coach Todd Raymond will field for 2014. Summer workouts so far have consisted of assessing the retention from the spring.
Leadership from seniors played a factor in the success on the field. Their growth allows the coaching staff to focus on the younger players.
“We put a lot on [the upperclassmen],” Raymond said. “Their maturity and growth makes it easier on us. We don’t have to micromanage them. They can make adjustments on the field without us having to walk them through it.”
Leading the offense is senior quarterback Jeremy Schilhab, who helms the offense for a second straight year.
While being a leader is a “different” feeling for him, he understands the role he plays.
“We have a lot of young guys, they are getting used to the game,” Schilhab said. “They are getting caught up. They are competing and having fun.”
That extends to helping lead a class of sophomores, including Jay Sales and Tyler Henderson, at wide receiver. Youth extends into the backfield, where sophomore Jameson Castillo joins senior Brett Wagner and JR Torres, who returns after a year off the gridiron.
Working through the growing pains has also been a focus in practices. While mistakes are made, ensuring the younger players see the field is priority.
“They will slowly and surely come along,” Raymond said. “They’ve got to get some more playing time and experience.”
Revamping the defense and filling vacancies will be point of contention for the Lobos. Several new faces have hit the field this spring. That includes new defensive coordinator Ryan Ledford on the sideline. Junior transfer Za’Quan Campbell and linebacker Jacob Tamez are also new faces on the field.
That rebuilding effort calls for several players to play offense and defense. Both Torres and Herrera will work in the defensive backfield. It’s a new dynamic for Herrera, who hasn’t been a two-way player since his freshman year.
“We’re a [high tempo] team, so it’s kind of hard to keep up,” Herrera said. “But I’m taking advantage of it and having fun.”
While the defense has new elements, its tenacity is a major point as shown in the Blue and Silver Scrimmage on Saturday, where the Lobo defense combined for five interceptions.
Growth notwithstanding, Raymond was pleased with the team’s effort.
“I’m super pleased with the way our defense was moving around the last few days. It frustrates our offense,” Raymond said. “They didn’t give up a lot of big stuff against an experienced offense like we have.”
What’s on the line for the final week of preseason? For the senior leaders, it comes down to one simple mindset – just keep going.
“We want to keep working hard, and win some games when we start [the season],” Wagner said. “We have to do what we got to do.”