EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Leigh McWhorter enters his second season as the head coach of the Parkland Matadors and is ready to build off a successful first season which saw the Mats finish 7-4 overall and make it to the playoffs.
"I feel great," McWhorter said. "These kids have put in a long offseason from November to now so to finally get on the field I'm excited."
The season won't be without its challenges. The Matadors return just 11 starters and lost two D1 commits in offensive lineman Tyrone McDuffie III (UTEP) and wide receiver DJ Crest (Texas Tech) as well as other offensive weapons like Isaiah Beasley.
"It's going to be hard without them because they brought a big impact to us but I feel like we worked hard this whole offseason so we will get it done," Senior Lineman Juan Gomez said.
"We don't necessarily have one guy who is going to replace a Tyrone or a DJ so it's going to be by committee," McWhorter said. "We're going to be better."
If Parkland are to be successful this season they will need senior quarterback Erik Ortiz to step-up. Ortiz started the 2022 season under center but midway through he was dropped. McWhorter told ABC-7 he's done enough to earn his spot back.
"He's been present," the Parkland head coach said. "I'm kind of demanding with our strength and conditioning program and he's been here. Last summer he was a little bit up and down but this summer he invested so he has all the trust in the world from me."
"I've got a lot of faith in him, that's our QB1 right there," Gomez said. "I've got all faith in him to lead us, win games and take us to the playoffs."
For the second year in a row Parkland will open the season against El Dorado. Kickoff is set for Friday, Aug. 25th at 7.30 p.m. MT. at the SAC. You can watch all the highlights that night on the Borderland Blitz.