EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – For the first time since being named the head football coach and athletic coordinator at El Paso High, Ray Aguilar Jr. finally had the opportunity to meet his team on Tuesday. El Paso High student-athletes returning to campus for summer workouts under strict guidelines from the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Aguilar Jr. was named El Paso High’s head coach in April, right smack dab in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Every interaction he has had with his Tigers team has been virtual through Zoom meetings and workouts.
“Being able to get out here with the kids and finally talking to them in person was great,” said Aguilar Jr. “The Zoom meetings were nice, but having the opportunity to actually talk to them [in person] is a really big deal.”
Aguilar Jr. went 9-13 in two seasons at San Elizario High School. He took a winless Eagles team in 2017 to the playoffs in 2018, going 6-5 in his first year at San Elizario. He will look to do more of the same in 2020 at El Paso High, as the Tigers went 0-10 last season. In fact, the Tigers haven’t had a winning season since 2016.
Those who know him — and know him well — describe Aguilar Jr. as a high-energy coach with high expectations. His new players are quickly figuring that out.
“I expected no different from the Zoom meetings,” said El Paso High senior quarterback Yan Arias. “He was really excited, he was pumped up to work with us, and that’s all I expected.”
“I was excited, I was nervous, and I didn’t know what to expect,” said El Paso High senior offensive lineman Sebastian Escobedo. “But the coaches out here are really good. They know what they’re doing and I have a good feeling about this season.”
Tigers football is in Aguilar Jr.’s blood. The term ‘dream job’ is often loosely used in sports, but this truly feels like his dream job.
“My mom went to school here. She was in the marching band here and she died when I was in high school. Knowing that she was here — she performed on this field — is a really big deal for me,” said Aguilar Jr. “I know it’s important to the alumni and the community. Just being able to be here at El Paso High with all of that in mind is really, really special.”
El Paso High is scheduled to open the season Friday, August 28 against Riverside at R.R. Jones Stadium.