Cloudy skies couldn’t dampen the excitement of the start of a new football season for many of this year’s Del Rio Rams.

With a chorus of hoots and hollers, and plenty of cheers and whistles, the newest incarnation of the Del Rio High School football team took to the field at Walter Levermann Ram Stadium to begin practice for the 2018-19 season.

The freshmen hit the field first and went through their drills before the junior varsity and varsity players emerged. They took the field only in t-shirts and shorts initially, but eventually they returned with helmets donned, ready to go to work.

Del Rio is coming off a 2-8 season that saw their streak of playoff appearances snapped at three years. The Rams are picked to finish sixth in the seven-team District 29-6A, ahead of just Laredo LBJ, but with key returners at quarterback, wide receivers and linebacker, the Rams could sit in a better place this year than they did at the start of last year.

Head coach Frenchey McCrea Jr. said there a handful of new faces on the team and he expects some serious competition at many of the team’s positions. However, he also knows there’s a lot of work to be done before the first game of the season Sept. 1 at San Antonio Warren.

“They knew this day was coming,” McCrea said as some of his players struggled through the first day of drills.

Senior Guy Creamer handled most of the first team reps at quarterback. Creamer saw limited duty as a quarterback last season, instead spending most of the season as a wide receiver and holder on special teams.

His top target, senior Anthony Maldonado, also returns.

Defensively, defensive lineman Carlos Nandin, linebackers Nick Padilla and Luis Bagneschi and safety Kyle Smith return to lead the defense.

Both sides of the ball could see an injection of youth as there are several sophomores from last year’s very strong freshmen team that could compete for not only a place at the varsity table, but a place in the starting lineup.

The Rams practiced for about an hour and a half Monday before taking a 30-minute break. They then returned for another hour and a half before calling it a day.

New rules prohibit lengthy practices without significant breaks, so McCrea and his staff are doing their best to cram as much into the time as possible.

The rules will also affect the team’s initial practice in full gear, which should be Friday. He said the annual Blue and White Scrimmage will serve as more of an extended practice for the teams rather than a full blown scrimmage.

The Blue and White scrimmage is scheduled to take place Saturday at Walter Levermann Ram Stadium following the team’s annual media day.

Del Rio hosts Uvalde Saturday, Aug. 18, for a scrimmage beginning at 10 a.m. at Ram Stadium.

The Rams will travel to Fort Stockton Friday, Aug. 24, for a 6 p.m. scrimmage to wrap up their preseason schedule.

This story has been updated to correct the name of defensive lineman Luis Bagneschi.

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