The Palm Desert Aztecs begin a new football season, with some holes to fill this time around but a familiar face leading the charge. The new head coach, Rudy Forti, has been with the team as Offensive Coordinator since 2017 but now finds himself in the driver’s seat looking to lead the team to a seventh straight league title.
“It’s very exciting. Kids are working hard, coaches have all bought in. But we’re just trying to I guess manufacture some offensive and defensive line. We graduated a lot of those positions on both sides of the ball. So that’s been kind of a struggle but we’re working on it.”
While it’s a new change for the team, it’s not drastic.
“It’s not a huge change when it comes to the offense side of the ball, we’re staying with the same defense — the kids know the terminology and they know where they need to be is just trying to find the right kids for the right position.”
And as it goes, a new year, a new team, and new holes to fill. One of them being a key part of their Defensive Line, Daniel Herrera. The two-time State Wrestling Heavyweight Champion took his talents to Ames, Iowa — closer to where he’ll be heading for college at Iowa State University.
“You can’t replace a Daniel Herrera. I mean, he’s a man among boys. He’s he’s gonna be hard to replace. He’s going on to bigger better things — he’s gonna go on and wrestle. But he plugged up the middle for us that allows our linebackers to roam freely and make a lot of tackles. And we’re not going to have that this year. So our defensive tackles and our linebackers gonna have to work much much harder.”
While the future Cyclone was vital part of the team both on the field and in the locker room, Coach Forti says the future is bright with a lot of young competitive guys looking to step up for the team. Just like senior, Dawson Johnson who has put in work in the off season.
“Dawson has been a really hard worker, he’s gained a lot of weight and he’s grown, he’s gotten bigger. He’s playing a new position in linebacker. We’ve had them at free safety and corner and we’ve used them at wide receiver — so this is all a new thing for him. But he’s learning he’s picking up quickly and we expect great things from him.”
Although Coach Forti says the season will be anything but easy. However, he says the team’s culture set, the players are hungry to win, and staying positive through it all will be key.
“The first five games are going to be tough. It’s going Be a bear and if we drop a few or if we drop all of them, we gotta stay positive because it’s only the first part of the season we got a second half of the season coming up after that… They know they need to work hard. And it’s it’s just next man up for from here on out.