SHINER - Gilbert Price doesn't sound like a first-year head football coach.
St. Paul Cardinals players line up in the I-formation during recent workouts. Frank Tilley, Advocate Photo Editor
First off, he doesn't expound on a set of principals that he believes will help him build a successful football program at St. Paul. Instead, he's a straight-ahead young man confidently grounded in the fundamentals of football and achieving wins by mastering the basics.
Perhaps that comes from his 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Industrial, Refugio, Corpus Christi Carroll, Smithville, and Sweeny.
But there must be some uniting theory.
"There's not a philosophy," Price said simply. "The defense has to know its assignments and run to the ball and the offense has to execute."
Price nodded and added, "First, when you are starting off, keep it simple. The offense and defense we're running is simple. The kids just have to learn their assignments."
And he feels the other key elements are there to produce a winner.
ST. PAUL CARDINALS
AT A GLANCE
HEAD COACH: Gilbert Price, first year
LAST YEAR'S RECORD: 8-5 overall, 2-1 in TAPPS District 3-2A.
RETURNING LETTERMAN: 20
RETURNING STARTERS: 11 (5 offensive, 6 defensive).
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2003 - lost44-6 to Muenster Sacred Heart in TAPPS Class 2A semifinal.
STRENGTHS: Experience, work ethic.
"I think we have the kids to put together a team to compete for a playoff spot," Price said. "They listen well and work hard and do what I want them to do.
"We're making quite a few changes, but they're picking it up really well. St. Paul has run the off-set I, so Price is sticking with that base offense. Plus, he has five returning starters -- junior tailback Derek Kovalcik, senior wide receiver Dagan Hybner, senior fullback Cody Mraz, junior tackle Will Pekar and senior tight end James Picha, who will move to quarterback.
Junior Trevor Hybner will also work at quarterback. "We have to find a starting quarterback," Price said of his top priority. "They're working hard and it's a heated battle.
2003 ST. PAUL CARDINAL FOOTBALLDate Time Team Last Year Aug 27 7:30 Hou. Northland Christian DNP Sep 3 7:30 Louise W 34-27 Sep 10 7:30 at Flatonia L 49-10 Sep 17 7:30 at Bryan St. Joseph DNP Sep 24 7:30 Houston Lutheran -- Oct 1 2:00 St. Joseph L 32-21 Oct 8 7:30 * La Marque Abundant Life W 40-13 Oct 16 7:30 at San Antonio Chrisitian -- Oct 23 4:30 * at Sacred Heart L 21-17 Oct 29 4:30 * at San Antonio Lutheran -- Nov 5 7:30 * Katy Faith Christian -- * TAPPS District 3-2A game CLICK HERE FOR TEAM ROSTER
"Kovalcik is a hard worker and he did well last year and I hope that carries over this year," he added. "Pekar is 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds. He's worked hard and I think he can do some good things for us."
The other starters are sophomore center Chad Kloesel, guards Casey Emerson, a senior, and Kevin T. Patek, a sophomore, senior tackle John Aschenbeck, junior tight end Lee Kusak, and sophomore flanker Trevor Hybner.
Price is putting in a new split-6 defense and he will be helped by six returning starters -- tackle Aschenbeck, linebackers Mraz and Kovalcik, free safety Dagan Hybner, and strong safeties Jeremy Petru, a junior, and Scott Vrana, a senior.
St. Paul quarterback James Picha stretches with teammates.
"That's a good group," Price declared. "They're really working hard."
Pekar will anchor the line at the other tackle while Kevin T. Patek and Kloesel will be the ends and Trevor Hybner and Picha will be the cornerbacks.
"When we get them all on the same page and running to the ball, we'll be fine," Price said.
"First, when you are starting off, keep it simple. The offense and defense we're running is simple. The kids just have to learn their assignments."
Gilbert Price, St. Paul head coach
Price does have one thing in common with all first-year coaches, he's been very, very busy.
"I knew it wouldn't be easy," he said. "It's tough. You set your goals and get your kids set and ready to go. "It's been fun," Price added.
Bill Hatch is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6508, or by e-mail at email@example.com.