A Crucial Return: Middle school football returns for the first time in two seasons

Local Sports

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — High school football made its triumphant return to the Rio Grande Valley last week, but now it’s time for, perhaps, an even more important brand of play.

Middle School football.

The Oliveira Middle School Dolphins spent last season on the sideline, but this year they return to play for the first time in nearly two years. The transition hasn’t been easy, but neither is middle school football in general. Coach Rolando Gomez is thrilled to have the opportunity to coach his players during a pivotal phase of their athletic careers.

“In my opinion, it’s the most important step,” Coach Gomez explained. “Getting started. This is where they get started.”

Coach Gomez welcomes dozens of 7th and 8th graders to his practice field. A few haven’t seen the field since age 10. Others have never seen the football field in their lives.

“Some of them are fortunate enough to do it at the elementary level,” Coach Gomez said. “But for 90 percent of these kids, it’s at the middle school level.”

In an effort to make up for lost time, a handful of Dolphin players began workouts in the summer. Oliveira’s focus is on having a successful season, but preparing for the high school level is an essential part of that process. Eighth-grader Frank Coronado is prepared to take on both tasks.

“Right now, Eighth grade, it’s basically getting me ready for freshman year,” Coronado said.

With schedules canceled at both the junior varsity and middle school levels, Rio Grande Valley football programs have some time to make up.

With the Oliveira Dolphins set to take on Stell Middle School on Tuesday, Sept. 7, the process of making up that time has already begun.

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