BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — If you like offense, Saint Joseph Academy (SJA) is the team for you.
In 10 games last season, the Bloodhounds totaled over 49 points on five different occasions. Senior quarterback Luigi Cristiano had 13 of those touchdowns last season, but he knows he still areas he hopes to improve on heading into his final season.
“I think I just need to trust my receivers more. With trust and chemistry, we should look better,” Cristiano explained. “We’re just here to come out, compete and win some football games.”
The mastermind behind the high-scoring, up-tempo offense? Head Coach Tino Villarreal.
“Not a lot of people can handle throwing 50-60 times a game,” Villarreal said. “I want to win football games 100-99 or lose them 99-100.”
Unlike many Rio Grande Valley football programs, the Bloodhounds enjoyed a full slate of district matchups despite COVID safety protocols hindering schedules last season. Villarreal and his boys made the most of the opportunity, finishing with a 5-5 overall record and one playoff win. With a full preseason to prepare, Villarreal hopes his team can build on a recent run of success.
“We were behind our district opponents by six weeks,” Villarreal said. “Knowing that we are out here at the same time as everybody else gets us plenty of time to get our team ready for district.”
Competing in a district predominately made up of teams from Central Texas, SJA had to overcome local government guidelines before taking the field. With safety protocols lifted this season, the Bloodhounds will enjoy the same preparation time as their opponents, including those on their non-district schedule.
“We didn’t get to play any Valley opponents last year,” Villarreal said. “What better team to prepare you for the teams up in Austin than the Port Isabel Tarpons?”
The Bloodhounds will begin the 2021 season at home against the Tarpons on Friday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m.