According to new head coach Roderick Taylor, hard work on the field isn’t going to be the only trait of the Del Rio Rams football program.

Taylor, who has been the head coach of the Rams since January, just wrapped up spring football with his players and coaches. While he was pleased with the work put in by the players and coaches, Taylor stressed that it was just the beginning for the program.

The Rams 7-on-7 team will be in Mission this weekend for its first tournament. They’ll also have tournaments in San Antonio and Corpus Christi, but UIL rules mandate that the team’s regular coaches cannot serves as coaches in an official capacity during 7-on-7. That role typically falls on parents or volunteers.

Once summer arrives, Taylor said he expects his returners to take part in the school’s voluntary workouts. The workouts will be just one facet of participation for the players.

“We really want our kids to have great attendance throughout summer workouts, all the way until we start two-a-days,” Taylor said. “We’re also going to do some team building activities, much like the clean-up we participated in earlier this year. We also took part in an Easter egg scavenger hunt, a commercial to help promote Beautify Del Rio, and more. The kids have been very active. The next major community service event will be to visit nursing homes.”

The community has also done its part to help out. The admission fee to the spring game was a donation of shampoo, body wash and/or deodorant. Taylor said he wanted to thank the community for its donations and that all of the items collected would be used by the players in the program.

He also thanked the various groups and their sponsors for taking part in the game and making it feel like an actual Friday night football game.

“That’s what we wanted. We have a lot of young guys that this was the first time for them playing on Friday night. This helped get some of those butterflies out of the way,” Taylor said. “With the band and all the auxiliaries more than willing to come out and support the team, I just want to say thanks to those leaders and those folks for being a part of it.”

After back-to-back 2-8 seasons, there were many in the community who felt that changes in the program needed to be made. Since Taylor’s hire those changes have included an increased community presence and the return of spring football, but more changes are coming, including at Del Rio Middle School.

“We are totally committed to getting that middle school to where it needs to be. They had their own spring football, just not with helmets and shoulder pads. They know our offense and defense right now, and that’s a testament to what these coaches have done,” Taylor said. “The administration also made a huge commitment at the middle school to have a new all-weather field installed there. We will also have more weights at the middle school than we ever have before. We had the superintendent walk through the facility and see what we needed to make it better. This administration has given me all the support I need. We’ll soon have a surface that can fight the weather and not just benefit football but all the sports. Definitely the foundation for success is being laid there.”

One of the most visible changes will be on the helmets the Rams wear. Gone are the traditional Rams horns, a staple of the program for nearly every year since the mascot was adopted. In its place will be several different pieces.

“The players had a lot of input on the helmet. We went through about 10 different designs. We wanted something that not only represents the football team but also the community,” Taylor said.

The new helmets will feature the player’s number on one side, the San Felipe Del Rio CISD logo on the other side, and a backbone, complete with a small Rams skull near the facemask, with the letters R-S-V-P, which stands for Relentless-Selfless-Valiant-Precision, inlaid in the backbone. Those four core values are what the program is based around, according to Taylor.

“Everyone was talking about needing change. We needed a radical change to get the program back to where we needed it to be. We needed a new look,” Taylor said. “The jerseys will be the same. They’re still in really good shape. It didn’t make logical sense to get rid of the uniforms.”

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