Playing the leading role

Sergio Arenas is detail oriented.

In preparation for a recent two-hour practice on the Hoover High football field, Arenas and his teammates conducted some stretching drills. Taking the lead, Arenas led the exercises and closely watched his teammates follow suit.

Then Arenas, a senior linebacker and tackle, and the rest of the defenders went through some brief running drills. At that point, Arenas had an inkling things were starting to get done and improvement had been made.

"I like to show and tell how things are being done out there on the field," said Arenas, a third-year varsity athlete who will look to lead the Tornadoes to their first winning season since 1987. "I want and have to lead by example in showing the younger guys how to work the different drills and plays because I had people who did the same for me when I got started.

"I took the time to learn from them. I can now show these guys the different defensive schemes and try to help them get ready for certain game situations."

The Tornadoes, under third-year Coach Chris Long, made some improvement last season. Hoover finished 2-8 and 1-6 in the Pacific League for seventh place in the eight-team league. It stayed competitive in most of its games, capped by a 15-7 come-from-behind victory against cross-town rival Glendale in the final game of the season at Moyse Field.

After the final horn sounded and the Tornadoes brought the Victory Bell back to Hoover for the first time since 2006, Arenas sensed the building blocks were in place for Hoover to climb the league standings in 2010.

"We just want to be able to go out there and play the game the right way," said Arenas, who played tackle last season. "I've gotten much faster and stronger and so have the other guys.

"I've been watching a lot of film and recognizing what the team and I need to do to get better. We are going to have a lot of guys who are going to play on both sides of the ball, so we want to pick up the different kinds of schemes."

Hoover junior nose guard Enrique Diaz said he's paid close attention to what Arenas would like the Tornadoes to get done during the upcoming season.

Diaz, a second-year athlete, said Arenas has provided valuable experience.

"He's one of our top players and he's very reliable," Diaz said. "We have a lot of young guys and he's out there trying to help them get better.

"We have moved up some guys from the JV team. It's a big advantage to have him on the team because he's the kind of player who can motivate everybody."

Having Arenas on the field can also be an benefit for Long.

"He's the type of player that wants to always be successful," Long said. "Our team starts with him and he's always showing his leadership skills.

"You want to have guys like that who care and show up everyday ready to go."

With less than a week to go before the start of the season, Arenas and Co. are making the final preparations for their season opener. Hoover begins with a nonleague road game against Sierra Vista at 7 p.m. Friday.

"We definitely want to be better and we want teams to know that," Arenas said. "We want to win our share of league games."

If that comes to fruition, it's clear that Arenas couldn't have picked a better way to get the message across to his teammates.

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