Buy in has put Gilroy in a good spot for ‘16 season

Coach Jubenal Rodriguez tosses a pass over a linebacker during practice on Tuesday.

After back-to-back three-win seasons, Gilroy is looking to start a new trend in 2016.
“The whole atmosphere is different compared to last year. I already see it,” said returning quarterback Jon Jon Castro. “I already spoke to coach about it after the first practice, honestly. It’s a whole different thing. I have athletes everywhere now.”
The Mustangs are riding high following a strong offseason work out that featured its first full year with Coach Jubenal Rodriguez at the helm.
“Guys were here consistently and never whined about working hard because that’s what we did: We worked really hard,” Rodriguez said. “They embraced the grind.  That was something special to experience with these guys.”
Rodriguez said the boys hit the weight room hard and have gotten stronger over last year.
The result of that—along with the boys diving hard into Rodriguez’ system—is the team has made a 180 from where it was last year.
“You can’t compare where were last year to where we are this year,” Rodriguez said.
He said the summer workouts and practices have been so well attended and he’s received such by-in to his system that the team is leaps and bounds from where it was.
In fact, on days where Rodriguez would expect his boys to be dragging or trying to get out of working out, the team chomped harder on the bit to get started.
“There were a couple of days where it was a hundred degrees and the kids were excited to get started for warmups,” Rodriguez said. “That’s really when I started to see the change.”
Gilroy has been working hard this year because it wants to set a tempo in games and get out ahead of teams quickly and not let up until the end.
“We just got to go fast: Fast tempo, fast everything,” Castro said. “We’ll power through teams and we’ll be good.”
“We have a hard working group of guys who are playing O-line right now,” Rodriguez said. “A combination of mostly juniors and some seniors.”
He singled out senior Victor Sanchez as the anchor of the O-line.
“He’s a quiet leader but not afraid to be vocal when he has to be,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the beauty of it. A lot of times you get guys who think being a leader is talking, talking, talking, but no. He walks the walk and when he needs to, he talks the talk.”
Sanchez said he saw an immediate improvement this summer if for no other reason than they actually had the depth at line see a full squad at practice.
“When we would do offense in practice, we wouldn’t have a full defense so that wouldn’t help us. This time we do so we should have better chances going into games,” Sanchez said.
He added the line is showing well up and down the lineup on both sides of the ball.
At the helm of the offense is returning starter Castro.
He said he had a boost in his confidence for the new year after seeing his linemen work this summer.
“My line has surprised me and they have my full respect,” Castro said. “I have full faith in them this season. They’ve been incredible.”
He got thrown to the wolves last year as a sophomore and came out the other end a little wiser for it.
“He finally got a spring and a summer with us. Last year he started the first day of fall at quarterback. I’m real proud of the way he stepped up in his role as a quarterback and as a leader.”
Gilroy has been a strong running team in the past and that has continued under Rodriguez.
This year with Castro at the helm, Gilroy wants to try to open up the play book and throw something different at teams. Rodriguez said he’s confident that Castro can rise tot he challenge.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that not only can he achieve expectations, but go past that,” Rodriguez said.
Castro will be throwing to Eddie Vargas, a senior who had a positive year last year.
Combined that with runningbacks Max Pierce, Joseph Barnes, Dylan Holler and Gilroy is aiming to have a balanced attack this year.
Gilroy will have a tough road out the gate.
Starting with the always competitive Severance Bowl to open things up, the Mustangs will see two A-league teams in the first four weeks.
“We want to show that we improved from last year and show that we’re better from the year before,” Sanchez said.  
In between are two teams with a lot of pride and something to prove in Sobrato and Gonzales.
Sobrato is coming off of a two-win season and is itching to get back to form, like it was when Rodriguez was an assistant coach.
Then there is Gonzales who plays in the underrated Mission Trail League, having to do battle with the likes of Carmel and Pacific Grove.
The Mustangs will close the non-league season against Live Oak and will open up Pacific Division play Sept. 23 at Alisal.
“Once league starts, we want to be above 500. Most definitely. These guys know our expectations and they know we can achieve them. We had such a consistent summer and that’s huge when it comes to high school football.”
The key is to just keep going no matter what, said Brandon Weiler.
“We just got to keep the tempo high and just keep hitting,” He said. “Just keep hitting. Just keep going hard and keep conditioning. Keep punching the ball in.”
Weiler said the team needs to keep going forward and not worry about teams until they come up on the schedule.
He said he doesn’t want to think of a goal for nonleague instead wants to focus on winning the first game.

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