ROMA, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Roma High School has only made the playoffs twice in school history entering this season.

Head Coach Francisco Villanueva was on the coaching staff in their two appearances. While the defensive coordinator at the time, Villanueva believes this team can do it for the third time this season.

“Our quarterback has been our quarterback for three years, our secondary is coming back, a lot of speed is coming back, our defensive line is coming back,” said Villanueva. “Our coaches and our kids have been working really hard this whole offseason and summer, so hopefully we’re able to punch it in.”

The Gladiators fell just short of the playoffs last season, finishing 4-6 (3-5 in district). With a lot of returning players, the team is hungry for a playoff birth this season.

“We want it badly,” said Kasiel Anguiano, senior defensive back. “And we have it there with a really good team. With the team we have, I know we got this.”

“I mean, a lot of our guys play both ways,” said Daniel Gutierrez, senior running back and safety. “So they got to put in the extra work, but we’ll get there.”

Roma opens up their season in the Starr County Super Bowl against Rio Grande City, and it’s a game they have marked on their calendars.

“The game against Rio. The whole county has it marked on their calendar. It’s a big rivalry game for us. It’s a big game for both schools,” said Villanueva.

“I gotta say against Rio. Yeah, Rio,” said Gutierrez.

The Gladiators host Rio Grande City on Friday, Aug. 26.