Old Pain, New Gain for Avila Football 2018
By Sam Kombrink, Sport Columnist
“What time is practice tomorrow morning?”
“Get to practice on time!”
“I want you to be healthy and ready to go!” and
“I want you guys to be disciplined.”
Those are just a few of the words that first year Head Coach Marc Benavidez had for his team after a Saturday evening practice.
The Avila Eagles football program is looking for a fresh start in 2018 as they move from the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) to the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).
In 2017, the Eagles finished their season with a record of 3-8, but that’s all yesterday’s news. This year, the Eagles are going into a new conference with a new head coach. Well, not exactly new. On Tuesday, July 3rd, the announcement was made that Offensive Coordinator Marc Benavidez would be promoted to the position of Head Coach, taking over for Eric Hicks who had resigned in June.
This year, Benavidez enters his 11th season at Avila. He played the positions of quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive back for the team during his four years as an undergraduate. And, after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology in 2012, he started to coach. He began the next seven years as running backs coach, and went on to coach wide receivers and offensive line. Following this, Benavidez continued at Avila in the position of recruiting coordinator.
Coach Benavidez told me that he’s always wanted to play the role as a sort of father figure, as far as leading young men. He spoke of the importance of everyone “growing as an individual” and “being there for the guys.” “This [team] is one of the most talented teams Avila has ever had,” he said. But, he also stressed the importance of discipline. “Being the most talented doesn’t mean you will win a lot of games,” he said.
Going into the 2018 season the Eagles have a bit of a quarterback competition. The job is up for grabs between: Tristan Askan (Sophomore), Jakob Jordan (Senior transfer from Mid-America Nazarene), and John Jacobs III (Freshman transfer), who played at East Carolina as well as UAB. Jacobs is currently nursing a sprained foot, according to wide receivers coach and former Kansas City Chief Derrick Alexander. So, I only got to see Askan and Jordan sling it, and I think the Eagles would win more games with Jakob Jordan under center. He offers a bit more zip on his passes, and does a good job of making plays with his legs when he can’t find an open man.
The Eagles offense looks to be centered around elusive wide receiver Theo Berry, a Senior transfer from Oklahoma State, who has stepped into the leadership role for the team.
As for the Eagles defense, they look gassed up with a strong blitz package led by (Freshman) inside linebacker Deshayne Stevens from, a state we all wish we could be in, the beautiful state of Hawaii.
“This could be our best year yet!, ” Coach Benavidez tells his team, and I think that this 2018 squad has the chance to really make history. Coach Benavidez is also excited with the fact that his players don’t have to travel more than five hours for an “away” game, and will have no overnight trips. He likes the fact that his guys, especially his returning players will be fully rested and energized, as they look to take over the KCAC with a chip on their shoulder, after being picked to finish 10th in the KCAC’s media & coaches polls.
Avila Eagles football season can be streamed via ESPN3.