TAKING THE LEAD
It didn’t take long for Cisco Chavez to know he had something special in his son Alex.
“When he was four years old I started him in T Ball,” Cisco said. “He took to it like a baby duck to water.”
Cisco said he felt his child had the look of a natural athlete even at such a young age.
“We started going out and throwing the football some,” Cisco said. “He could catch it with ease and throw it back. I knew then that he had something special.”
Alex said it took him a little longer to realize he was gifted athletically.
“It hit me when I was in fifth grade,” Alex said. “I could tell watching my film from YMCA football.”
Fast forward seven years and Alex is the starting senior quarterback for the 2017 Reagan County Owls.
“Special is the word for him,” Owls’ Coach Blake Weston said. “He can do it all for us. He is a cyborg out there.”
Weston, first year head coach of the Owls, said Alex has been on his radar for years.
“I have mutual friends with his dad,” Weston said. “When I was at Sonora they would tell me to keep an eye on him. At that time, I thought Alex was someone I would have to contend with from across the field.”
A few twists of fate later and Weston has at his disposal one of the best all around athletes in West Texas.
“When I interviewed for this job I saw Alex in the gym,” Weston said. “He had his arm in a sling. I think LJ (DeLeon) and some other guys were shooting baskets. Alex jumped up above the rim an swatted one of LJ’s shots away. I knew right then everything I had heard and seen from a distance was true.”
Weston said as he got to know Alex over the end of last school year he knew he would lead his Owls this season.
“He is extremely gifted,” Weston said. “That gift isn’t something he takes for granted. He’s hasn’t played a full season in two years due to injuries. He takes advantage of every opportunity he gets on the field.”
Alex suffered a torn ACL his sophomore year. He then dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum as a junior. He had surgery on both.
“He is not a lazy kid by far,” Cisco said. “After each surgery he put 100 percent into his rehab and put in extra work to get himself ready to play with his team.”
Cisco said, as a dad, he worried at times Alex was pushing too hard in his recovery.
“That is just how he is though,” Cisco said. “I have never seen anyone with the kind of dedication my son has.”
That dedication is something Coach Weston admires.
“He just works his tail off,” Weston said. “I’ll get up to the field house at 7 a.m. and he’ll already be in the weight room. That is three to four times a week. He is a hard working kid.”
It was a year ago against Coahoma that Alex tore his labrum.
“The injuries don’t haunt me or anything,” Alex said. “I have faith in my doctor. I trust his word when he said I was released to play. My confidence and hard work is what I base myself on.”
Alex had a gem of a game last week in the Owls 42-35 win over Coahoma.
The senior put up 312 yards of total offense in the game making a big impact with his arm, legs and catching ability. He also had 20 of the Owls points to his name while passing for another 8.
Following the game Coach Weston said he felt Alex’s performance was a bit of revenge for last year’s opening kick-off injury, but Chavez said it never crossed his mind.
“I really didn’t even think about it,” Alex said. “I just knew I had to step up and help my team get the confidence to win. They backed me up.”
The Owls found themselves down 12-0 in the second quarter when Alex hauled in a double pass from his cousin, Justin Chavez, 84 yards to put the Owls on the board.
“We were down early in that game,” Weston said. “I told him at halftime it was on his shoulders. He took that to heart and had an amazing second half.”
Chavez, behind his impressive offensive line, found the edge of Coahoma’s defense time after time to claw the Owls to an impressive victory.
“There was just under 2 minutes on the clock and we were talking during a timeout,” Weston said. “We had a fourth and nine and we were trying to find a play to convert. Alex looked at me and said ‘give it to me. I’ll get it.’”
Weston said when a leader speaks... you listen.
“You could see it in his eyes,” Weston said. “He said he would get it, and he had no doubt it would happen.”
Weston called the quarterback sweep, and Alex took the ball 56 yards for a game sealing touchdown.
“Honestly he’s our leader,” Senior Trey Ortiz said. “He can throw and run. More importantly, he keeps his composure when we need him. He is a great quarterback.”
Weston said it is a huge compliment when one of the team’s other senior leaders views Alex in that way.
“Trey is kind of our vocal leader,” Weston said. “He keeps things light, but knows when to buckle down.”
Weston said Alex is the other side of that leadership coin.
“He is the quiet one,” Weston said. “He is poised and focused. Exactly what we need leading our offense.”
Weston said he knew Alex had that style to him from watching baseball film last year.
“I focus a lot on body language when I watch film,” Weston said. “Alex and Trey carry themselves very well. They were always up in the dugout cheering the team on. They were juniors last year, but clearly had the body language of leaders.”
Alex said he knew he would be looked at as a leader this season from his quarterback position.
“I do see myself as a leader,” Alex said. “But I can not do it without teammates who follow me and the other guys who help lead this team.”
Cisco said, for Alex’s success early this season on the football field, he really feels most comfortable on the baseball diamond.
“Alex is a blessed athlete,” Cisco said. “I mean, God gave him the gift to play any sport he pretty much wants, but I feel that baseball is his sport. He plays the game with a passion and it is a joy to watch him play.”
Alex said he hopes to play baseball in college.
“I have worked hard and am confident I can compete at the next level,” Alex said. “If a scholarship is offered to me in any other sport I will do whatever it takes to fulfill that school’s expectation of me.”
Alex said his dream place to continue his playing career would be for the Texas Tech Baseball team.
“He knows those are big dreams and it is hard to do coming from a small 3A school,” Cisco said. “But I think he really has a shot to fulfill his dream.”
Alex comes upon his athletic prowess honestly.
His dad Cisco played for the Iraan Braves in the mid-90’s
“When I played for Iraan I had the chance to compete in two Area Championship games,” Cisco said. “That was back when only two teams advanced from district, and there was only one State Champion for each classification.”
Cisco’s junior and senior years with the Braves laid the groundwork for Iraan’s 1996 State Title.
“A lot of how I raised Alex came from how I was coached as a Brave,” Cisco said. “I only wish I had Alex’s talent when I played. I could have done a lot more damage on the field.”
All the talk of previous football success and future baseball dreams are on the backburner right now for Alex though.
“We are hunting for a district championship right now,” Alex said. “We want that DC followed up by a nice deep playoff run. More importantly, I want to complete this season injury free. If I can do that, everything else will pan out.”
Alex gave one last hat tip to the man that made him the player, leader and talent that he is today.
“My dad has played a huge role in my life,” Alex said. “He taught me discipline, to be fearless and to respect myself and others on and off the field. I honestly don’t remember a time when he and my mom weren’t right there by my side supporting me.”
You can be sure Alex’s parents will be in Forsan Friday night rooting on their son and his teammates.
That game kicks off at 7:30 p.m., and everyone is encouraged to come out and support Alex, Trey and the rest of your Reagan County Owls.