Three-year varsity starter Batista enjoys challenge of facing taller opponents

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Oct. 5, 2007 - COMO - When Como-Pickton senior wide receiver/cornerback Juan Batista takes to the field, opposing coaches look to take advantage of the mismatch with their taller receivers.

As soon as the 5-3 Batista makes a play on the football, opposing teams stay away from him for the majority of the game.

What Batista lacks in size, he makes up for in determination and head coach Paul Tullis said that is what makes Batista a special football player.

"Juan is a competitor and he is very coachable," the coach said. "He is going to do whatever you tell him to do and he gets after every battle. He is not very tall, but he has good speed.

"Every week they are going to put their tallest and best receiver on him and throw it one-on-one and he knows he has to face that. He is up for the challenge and he goes out there and does a good job and plays with great technique."

Batista said knowing prior to the games there could be a mismatch on his side of the ball makes him excited to step out on the football field and play under the lights.

"I love it and I don't find it intimidating. I like the challenge and I like to prove that anything is possible," Batista said. "I am like 5-3 or 5-4 and they will put a 6-3 kid on me, and I just love the challenge."

The son of Juan and Efigenia Batista has played football for three years at Como-Pickton and said the recent struggles on the team have been tough to deal with, but this season could be different with the team currently 2-2. The Eagles broke a 14-game losing streak in Week 1 against the Celeste Blue Devils with a 22-18 homecoming victory.

"I have been playing for three years and during that playoff year we had the majority of the team was all seniors," he said. "You know you are going to have a good year when it is all seniors. The next year, we lost everybody so we had to recover and build the team back up and now it is our turn and hopefully we will go back to the playoffs. I would like to make school history and get past the first round of the playoffs."

He said with 26 members on the varsity roster this year, every single player respects each other like family and will pick each other up during a game.

"We are a team and we don't care if you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior because we are a family," Batista said. "We don't pick on the other kids and we are a team."

With Tullis running the team this year, Batista said the Eagles are learning how to become better on defense and using their strengths to the best of their ability.

"I like the way that Coach Tullis does his tactics and last year we were supposed to be more of a power team and we were not that way," Batista said. "This year we are playing smart and that is what I like about Coach Tullis because we know we don't have the size and the speed. I like the way he is showing us how to stop the other teams."

Batista plans on attending Texas State University in San Marcos in the fall to become an architect.

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