D.T. Torres knows exactly how they feel.
In 2002, the former Lometa lineman stepped onto the field as a freshman, battling nervousness and anxiety as he played in his first varsity game.
Now, as the Hornets head coach, Torres is heading into today’s season opener at Waco Live Oak with a roster full of freshmen, and he has no doubt they are experiencing all the same sensations he did more than a decade ago.
“I told them that I know what they are going through,” Torres said. “I know they have every kind of emotion and expectation running through their bodies. The key for them is to just not get too high and not get too low. … They just have to control their emotions the best they can.”
Adding to the anxiety is the fact the first-year players will be lining up across from one of the best teams in the state.
The Falcons debut atop the TAPPS Division II preseason rankings, according to SixManFootball.com, after losing in last season’s state championship game to San Antonio Castle Hills.
And with seven returning starters, including four on offense, Live Oak will be looking to make another run at a title.
“It is going to be a test for us,” Torres said. “They’ve got power, speed and athletic ability.”
In order to emerge from tonight’s game, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., with an upset victory, Torres feels his players must adhere to every detail of the game plan, especially on defense.
Last year, the Falcons scored a total of 700 points, which is a lot even by six-man football standards, including a 90-point outburst against Lometa in the season opener. The Hornets, however, posted 64 points in the loss, tying them for the second highest-point total against Live Oak all year.
But that was before graduation stole five seniors from the Hornets’ roster, including R.J. Haggard, who led the team in rushing each of the last two seasons.
Nevertheless, Torres believes his team is ready for the challenge.
“We’re going there to win,” he said. “I don’t like losing, but I have a really hard time accepting it if we beat ourselves. If we execute and do the little things right but still come out on the short end, I could be happy with that.”