HARKER HEIGHTS — The Knights are heading into the upcoming football season with a whole new outlook.

As the first area Class 6A team to start spring football practice, Harker Heights set out at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning to get back to work.

“I really don’t see them as my team right now,” Knights junior offensive lineman Raphael Moana said. “I see them as my family, my brothers.

“And what I want to see from us this upcoming year is just staying together no matter what we go through, because with all the adversity and all the pain we went through last year, we have a big burden on our back this year.”

The biggest change for the Knights has come in their new rally cry — Bring the juice.

“Juice is just a mindset for our kids to bring the energy to practice,” Harker Heights offensive coordinator Dan Pike said. “In everything that they do, they should have a purpose for it and bring the energy. Energy is contagious, so a few kids buy in, and then, a few more buy in, and eventually, we’ve got a whole team bought into “the juice” concept.

“It’s become something that we’ve bought into every single day and helps us be better competitors, better athletes and better football players.”

The Knights have bought into the

idea of “the juice” as a united group and share the energy from social media to the weight room and onto the field for the first day of spring practice.

“It’s not nonsense,” Knights junior middle linebacker Reece Vazquez said. “It’s what we’ve got. It’s juice.

“The energy we have and how we are around each other, it’s just infectious, and it’s awesome to be in the weight room with these guys, because everyone’s excited and everyone’s just pumped.”

Although the idea of bringing “the juice” started with the offensive line, it’s the keyword that gets the Knights going.

“Whenever we’re feeling down, hurt or tired, we just say, ‘Stay juiceful,’ and we put our pain and sorrows aside,’ Moana said, “and we just put everything into the team.”

While the Knights have bought into Pike’s philosophy and have embraced it as their own in the offseason with the motto, “You’re not useful if you’re not Juiceful,” the offensive coordinator doesn’t take all the credit for the concept.

Inspired by coaches who represent their team in one word, which he came across on social media and at coaches’ clinics, Pike admits he stole the idea a year ago and brought it to Harker Heights.

Coming off a 1-9 season plagued with various injuries among his players, Knights head coach Jerry Edwards has enjoyed witnessing his players use this new philosophy to push themselves while preparing for the upcoming season.

“I think playing with a lot of young players last year, we weren’t playing at the level that we needed to,” Edwards said. “So this offseason, we really looked at what we were doing and how we needed to do it and really focused on getting our kids stronger, and we did a great job of that.”

Over the course of the offseason, personal records were set and school records were broken in the weight room as Harker Heights football revamped its offseason program and moved to lifting four days a week.

“We did that so we could get better and stronger,” Edwards said. “Once you do that, you cut down on some of the injuries.

“I think that will be one of our biggest improvements.”

The Knights football players believe all the changes both mentally and physically will translate to the game.

“I think we struggled a bit last year being a team,” Vazquez said, “but I think we’re really going to show out this year, playing not as 11 guys, but as one unified team out there.

“So I’m really excited to see what we can do on the field.”

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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