Strawberry Crest High cornerback Guillermo Garcia says he's used to a steep challenge.
Garcia looks back at his team's last season with mixed emotions. Sure, the Chargers, in their second season, improved on its inaugural year in 2009 going from 2-7 to last season's 5-5 record. For Garcia, last season was one he thinks he and his team let slip away after a solid start.
"Last year in the summer we worked to get better and better and I thought we started out on a roll," Garcia said. "Then after we lost our defensive coordinator during the year, things with our defense started to go downhill."
After a 3-1 start, the team scuffled after the midway point a posted a 2-4 district record.
The Chargers also lost its first senior class after last season, including six key starters on defense. Garcia, now a senior, is the lone returning defensive captain. The changes didn't stop there either as between spring practice and the start of preseason workouts Strawberry Crest made a coaching change as coach Todd Donohoe was replaced by Gerold Dickens.
"Adversity and change is a part of life," Garcia said. "In the end we have to roll with those punches and get past it to compete."
Dickens said he has been impressed with the level of commitment and excitement at Strawberry Crest as more than 90 players came to tryouts for varsity and junior varsity teams.
"We have had to come in and work fast," Dickens said. "But going in we can tell by the number of participants and how hard they are working that these guys are buying in."
Garcia looks at these challenges as just that chance for his team — a chance to show what his team has spent a spring and summer improving on.
"We have been working hard in the weight room and this team has worked this summer," Garcia said. "Now we are going to be in the toughest district of them all and we are ready.
"This game is about competition that continues to build on itself and the better teams you go out there and play the better in the end you are going to be."
Last season, Garcia had 35 tackles and this season, according to Dickens, the senior will be called upon to be the defense's on-field leader.
"He is a veteran on the field," Dickens said of Garcia. "We've got kids here excited about a new era here and having experienced players like him is the key to getting things going for our program."