The Douglas Bulldog basketball team will be looking for a repeat trip to the state playoffs when they kick off their season this next week.
The Bulldogs will host Empire Tuesday and Sahuarita on Thursday before heading to Willcox on Friday.
All three varsity games will start at 7 p.m.
Oscar Mariscal returns for another year to coach the Bulldogs. Poncho Acosta returns to coach the junior varsity and Abe Grijalva is back for his final year to coach the freshmen.
The coach said he’s planning on keeping 15 players on the varsity this year.
“We had a large freshmen group, I want to say we had 30 come out and then we had 18 come out for junior varsity,” he said. “We want to keep big groups because a lot happens throughout the season.”
Coach Mariscal likes what he’s seen from his players in practice so far.
“They have been working hard,” the coach said. “We go every day for a couple of hours. They have been giving a real good effort. I’ve been seeing a lot of positive things. I’m excited.”
Coach Mariscal has been what Cochise College coach Jerry Carrillo describes as a regular at the Apaches practice.
“I go out and I watch Coach Carrillo and his staff,” Mariscal said. “That’s one of the best basketball programs around. Any time I go out there I bring stuff back and we use it with our kids.”
The coach said he’s looking for good things out of Luis Padilla, who will be the Bulldogs center this year as well as Ignacio Valenzuela and Bobby Zamora.
“We’re really counting on those three to help carry us,” he said.
The Bulldogs lost Jessie Arias Sanchez to graduation. Arias Sanchez is now playing at Cochise.
Coach Mariscal knows there are some big shoes to fill now that Arias Sanchez has gone on to the next level.
“We had a real good season last year and we’re hoping to improve on that this year,” he said. “The kids saw last year what it takes to win games and we’re just going to try and build off of that. … There are a lot of good teams out there and we can’t take any nights off.”
The coach said he and his players are anxious for the season to start.
“We’ve had a majority of these kids in here all summer,” he said. “I think they’re ready to start playing.”