The Tigers open their 2013 season Friday by traveling to Victoria for a 7:30 p.m. game against the St. Joseph Flyers at Patti Welder Stadium.
“Ready or not, Friday is here,” Mares said Monday. “Winning the first game is important because you work six weeks to get to that first victory.”
The Tigers return eight starters on both sides of the ball from last year’s team that went 6-4 and just missed the playoffs in District 15-2A, Division I with a 3-3 record.
Senior quarterback Dalton Sturm threw for 1,118 yards and 12 touchdowns last season while also rushing for 660 yards and 12 scores. Mares said Sturm has matured into a senior leader.
“He’s got some pressure on him, but as a senior, he can handle it pretty well,” Mares said. “Our seniors have really stepped up. That’s a big thing and they all are working hard because they realize this is their last go-around.”
Other top offensive returnees for the Tigers are receiver Colby Berger (11 catches for 262 yards and three TDs in 2012) and Joseph Burns (23 rushes for 68 yards).
Goliad defeated St. Joseph 34-10 in last year’s season opener at Tiger Stadium. Mares expects his defense to be tested more Friday.
“They have a good ground game and they will always be fired up for the first game,” Mares said. “They’ve got a good running back in (Barclay) Proctor. He can carry people. We have to put a stop on him.”
Mares is anxious to see how his Tigers perform.
“At this stage, you can take one game at a time and we hope to build on our scrimmages,” Mares said. “We’ll know better by Friday after we see if the new people on the field stepped up.”