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Community Champion: Former El Paso football coach Jesse Perales finding early success at Dallas area high school

EL PASO, Texas - Life sometimes involves taking risks, and for Jesse Perales the risk was definitely worth the reward.

Perales was the head football coach at Del Valle High School for 15 years.

In May of 2019, Perales accepted the head coaching position at Naaman Forest, a school in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

For a head football coach to the make the jump from El Paso to Dallas is not only difficult, but extremely rare, it's even more challenging for a Hispanic coach.

"There isn't a lot of minority head coaches out here, but every week we win a game, I think we open more eyes," Perales said. "Hopefully we can open some doors for younger guys that are coming behind me. That's always been one of my biggest goals. I think El Paso football as a whole is overlooked."

After a 4 win season his first year at Naaman Forest, Perales led the Rangers to a 6-3 record in 2020 and the team's first district championship in more than a decade.

Winning the District 9-6A title this season was no easy feat for Perales.

Covid-19 made things difficult in terms of preparation and keeping players safe.

Also, the sheer level of competition the team faced every week.

Through it all Perales, his coaching staff, and his players were able to adjust and still find success on the gridiron.

"The competition is very fierce out here so when you win a district championship, they are very hard to come by," Perales said. "I'm very happy for our coaching staff and players. Everything was new to them, new coaching staff, new philosophy, but they bought in."

Naaman Forest was eliminated in the bi-district round of the 6A Division 2 playoffs after falling to Tyler Legacy, 20-14.

Perales next goal is to get that first playoff win at Naaman Forest.

He still follows and keeps in contact with his friends at Del Valle, and he was ecstatic to see the Conquistadores win their first district title since he made the move to Naaman Forest.

Perales may no longer live in his hometown, but he carries El Paso with him, and his success is the Sun City's success as well.

"Everyday I coach out here I coach with a chip on my shoulder because I'm representing my family back home and the 915," Perales said. "I want to show the Hispanic community that minorities can do this, and as difficult as it is it can be done."

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Adrian Ochoa

Adrian Ochoa is ABC-7’s Sports Director.

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