‘Not the same team as last year’: Rattlers look to make statement this season

Talialaina Letoi

The Rancho Mirage Rattlers are focused on showing the entire Coachella Valley that last season doesn’t reflect who they are as a team. Last season, they went 7-8 in the Desert Empire League.

But it’s a new year and a new mindset for these young guys.

One of the team captains, Senior Abel Flores is excited to the hit the field with his team this year.

“Just excited because we’re a different team from last year for sure, a lot more discipline. We still have a few little things we have to fix. But I have a lot of high hopes for this team. And I hope we come on playing strong.”

While the entire team is focused on looking ahead and not looking back, Head Coach Larry Matthews also weighed in on the growth of many players since last year, adding that many have put in the work to show up this year.

“You know, last year, we fell short in a lot of areas. And we had a lot of younger kids that got a lot of Varsity experience with their first time ever getting on the field. And so a lot of those guys recommitted themselves in the offseason, a lot of morning workouts in the weight room. And we’re just really excited about the group we have coming forward for this season.”

The Rattlers are all looking to turn the tide this time around. Despite what last year’s record showed, one thing that held true was the diamonds on defense.

Not only do they have most of them back, but Coach Matthews says, “we have more depth than we probably ever had, in all defensive positions.”

And everyone’s battling it out to shine, not only for themselves, but for their teammates too.

“We have a lot of competition going on right now to get starting spots. So we’re excited about our defense, they make our offense better every day in practice. We are young in some positions, but we have a lot of depth, we have a very, very good sophomore class. So it’s just an exciting time. The future’s bright here at Rancho Mirage High School,” says Coach Matthews.

A big theme they have this year is leadership. Not only from coaches but the upperclassmen as well.

Senior Linemen A.J. Aniasco says it makes all the difference.

“This year, we’re hoping that our leaders and our seniors this year can really guide this team to way better than we did last year.”

Coach Matthews is also excited to watch the players grow and lead themselves as well.  ”

“Here we have a great senior class that’s has a bunch of leaders in it… So it just exciting as a coach, you see some of those things, qualities in a team that you’ve coached in the past that are there. It just matter if they’re hungry and humble and and disciplined enough to go get it.”

But they say they’re just following Coach Matthews lead — he’s setting an example for them that’s stayed true over the years.

Aniasco says, “He’s a great coach, man. I love Coach Matthews. He’s really always striving to push us to be better people not just on the football field but off of the football field as well. He’s always pushing to have a good discipline, make good habits and do the right things.”

While the Rattlers aren’t starting from scratch, they are taking it step by step to perfecting their craft.

The little things right, so the big things can happen. Going back to being a blue collared hard working team, where every day is a chance to get better. And things that we’ve done in the past really don’t matter, we got to look at what we’re doing right now and how we can get better for the future. And if we do that, and we take that mentality into the season, I think we’re gonna have a very great chance of being successful.

Even with their personal goals to help the team succeed.

“My personal goal is to hopefully build the team as a brotherhood,” says Flores.

“And my second goal is to hopefully show the valley that we’re not the same team as we were last year. We’re not selfish and we’re brotherhood that will fight a lot harder than we did last year.”

The Rattlers kick off their season on the road against the Hemet Bulldogs, Friday August 18th.

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