El Paso Parkland senior quarterback Gabriel Herrera feels right at home with the Matadors.
After transferring from El Paso Andress in his junior year, the 5-foot-10-inch, 160-pound Herrera helped guide Parkland to a District 1-5A, Division II title and a 48-12 bi-district playoff win over El Paso Irvin. And with Herrera as their field general again, the Matadors kicked off their 2019 campaign with back-to-back victories.
Herrera told Texas Scorecard just before Parkland faced El Paso Jefferson in the third non-district game of the season that he loves the family atmosphere at his school.
“We have a good family program here and a brotherhood of dudes in the locker room,” he said. “We’re just all for each other.”
In 2018, Herrera threw for 2,964 yards and 39 touchdowns against four interceptions. He runs an up-tempo offense that once benefited from the incredible talents of running back Deion Hankins, now at UTEP, and wide receiver Khatib Lyles, now at North Texas. Despite losing those weapons, Herrera’s offense continues to move along nicely with several new pieces in place.
“All of the younger guys were able to follow them and learn from them,” Herrera said. “We prepared them enough and they’re ready to go for sure.”
According to the signal-caller, the offense’s biggest strength is “a lot of speed.” He equally praised the defense.
Parkland opened Herrera’s final season with a thrilling 41-40 overtime victory against El Paso Burges, a game many consider to be a memorable showdown.
“It was great,” the quarterback said. “It was a crazy atmosphere. Everybody was standing up in the stadium. I think it showed that our guys can pull it out in tough situations and find a way to win.”
A week before the Jefferson game that was played at press time, Herrera propelled the Matadors to a 24-21 win against El Paso Austin on the strength of three touchdown passes and a four-yard run into the end zone.
District play is in two weeks, and the quarterback is eager to build on last year.
“[We want to] definitely make some noise in the playoffs,” Herrera said. “I know last year we had a really great season but fell short of our expectations.”
Head coach Eric Frontz heaped plenty of praise on the four-year letterman (Herrera also played on varsity at Andress).
“He’s a great competitor and is very smart,” Frontz said. “He does a really good job preparing. He’s careful with the ball and manages the game well. All that you look for in a quarterback, he’s got it. He’s a great kid and will do a great job for us all year.”
Football, according to many, is a family affair. Herrera will always remember his fellow Matadors on and off the field.
“Everybody’s for each other, from the coaching staff to the players, just anybody at the school in general,” he said. “Everybody’s together; one family united. The memories that we make in the locker room I’ll remember for sure.”
Herrera added that he wants to leave behind a legacy of hard work at Parkland.