Arlington Citizen-Journal

Young players helping push Texans into playoffs

Angel Ramirez, left, and Joan Soto are the only Texans players who were on the 2015 team that reached the state championship tournament.
Angel Ramirez, left, and Joan Soto are the only Texans players who were on the 2015 team that reached the state championship tournament.

Angel Ramirez has played on high school boys soccer’s biggest stage. So the junior left midfielder knows how to bounce back from a tough loss.

Ramirez, one of two current Sam Houston players who played for the 2015 Texans team that reached the state tournament, helped his teammates refocus after a Feb. 24 shootout loss to rival Bowie. The result was a 4-2 bounce-back win at Wilemon Field against Martin on the final day of February.

By topping the Warriors, the Texans improved to 9-2 in district — first place — and moved a step closer to clinching their 10th consecutive playoff berth.

“Playing in playoffs is our tradition — getting far,” Ramirez said.

This Sam Houston squad is on the young side. The Texans have just six seniors. But the younger players, such as high-scoring freshman Jose Ortiz, understand the importance of maintaining Sam Houston’s winning ways.

“These kids understand the legacy they’re trying to make and the footprint they’re trying to leave behind,” Sam Houston coach Joey Rodriguez said. “They want to continue that and they don’t want to be the group that doesn’t make the playoffs.”

Ortiz has made an eye-popping contribution to the Texans’ district success, booming 17 goals through the first 11 district games. His scoring outburst — 21 on the season — includes a header against Martin on Feb. 28 for a 3-0 first half lead.

“His first touch is really good,” senior midfielder Joan Soto said of Ortiz. “He has a really good shot.”

Rodriguez said Ortiz has earned his role on the team by working hard at practice and showing up big in games. “He came to us as one of the freshmen who really works hard,” Rodriguez said. “He worked his way up to making the varsity and then worked his way to being a starter. And it’s just one of those things where I can’t say enough about his work ethic.”

In past seasons, Sam Houston has found success with set pieces. These days, the Texans are still a strong possession team. But they’re now getting most of their goal scoring through a more aggressive attacking style.

“We’ve just got to find the way we play, because sometimes we’re off,” Ramirez said. “Like the Bowie loss, we were off overall. But then we found a way to bounce back.”

With leaders like Ramirez leading the charge, the Texans don’t take any opponent lightly. And that should keep the Texans from losing sight of their big-picture goals. “He keeps our ship going in the right direction,” Rodriguez said. “He does a great job of keeping everything positive and encouraging everybody. He gives us a lot of energy on the outside.”

Sports digest

Boys basketball

Arlington Bowie is in the regional tournament for the first time since 2014, set to face Killeen Ellison on Friday night, after the press deadline, at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth.

Thus far, the Vols have defeated Keller Fossil Ridge in bi-district, Amarillo Tascosa in the area round and El Paso Americas in the regional quarterfinal.

Against Americas, Kyler Edwards had 22 points and Cade Cunningham scored 17.

See for results throughout the weekend.

Girls basketball

Arlington Lamar’s girls saw a 14-point lead give way in a 49-43 loss to South Grand Prairie in the regional quarterfinals last Friday. The Lady Vikings ended their season at 25-9 after going 12-2 in District 4-6A and finishing second behind Bowie.

The Lady Vols reached the regional quarterfinals this season before being knocked out by Keller last Tuesday.

Stephen English:, @sbenglish74