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By Kenneth Roberts

Freelance Writer

Rio Grande City Rattlers Defensive Coordinator Kevin Whaley, in his sixth year of directing the Rattler defense, has a long and distinguished career of producing top-notch high school football defensive units throughout South Texas.

Whaley, a native of Waco, has directed the Rattler defense as the defensive coordinator since 2011. He served at La Joya High School for seven seasons from 2004-2010, serving one year each as defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Prior to his La Joya tenure, Whaley coached for seven years at Floresville High School, first serving as defensive coordinator for three and one-half years and then holding the position of head coach for three and one-half years.

Whaley is a 1984 graduate of Waco Connally High School. He attended McMurry College in Abilene and graduated from that institution in 1989. Immediately after graduating from McMurry, he served at Teague High School in North Central Texas for one year. He then moved on to coach at Beeville High School for five years, followed by a two-year coaching tenure at Benavides High School.

Rattler Head Coach Aaron Garcia emphasized, “I have a lot of respect for Coach Whaley. We worked together for five years at La Joya High School and are very familiar with each other. Our philosophies about defense are very similar, and I considered it very crucial to keep him on board (the Rattler coaching staff). He’s a very high character individual who is great with kids. His defensive approach and coaching have been very successful over the years.”

In evaluating his Rattler coaching experience, Whaley stressed, “It’s been a great experience here so far; the kids are still kids here and still have a great excitement about the game. The kids are very coachable and it makes it fun for us to see that. I very much enjoy the community’s commitment to and excitement about the Rattler program.” Concerning the defensive performances over the past five years, Whaley declared, “I think our defenses have done well the past five years; there’s always room for improvement. In most of those years, the team has ranked high in district defensive statistics…The 2013 playoff run (when the Rattlers reached the second round of the playoffs) was a great time for the team and community.”

“We typically utilize a 3-4 alignment,” explained the coach. “This allows us to play nine men in the box against the run or drop eight men into pass coverage. This type of alignment enables us to be versatile defensively. We’ve used the 3-4 just the last two years; it’s been a really good change for us…At this point, we’re very much committed to the 3-4 defense.”

Whaley continued, “Prior to making this change, we defended well against the run, but struggled in pass defense. We saw this change as a way to improve our pass coverage while remaining strong in defending the run.”  The coach noted, “Prior to that point in my coaching career, we used the 50 defense, or a five-man front.”

“When our coaches believe in a defensive system, that will filter down to the kids and enable the coaches to be better teachers,” commented the coordinator. “The kids are very much on board with this 3-4 system.”

He emphasized, “We’re not fancy in the way we play defense; we’re a gap control, reading defense. We’ll use blitzes when we think they’ll be effective, but we won’t sink or swim with blitzes. Our first priority is to try to stop the run. It gives us an advantage when we can take away an opponent’s running game.”

Whaley insisted, “We intend to be solid and sound as a defensive unit this year and in the future. That’s been my approach throughout my career.”  About continuous efforts to build the character of players, Whaley contended, “It’s important to show true interest in individual players, not only as players but as young men. We need to show interest in and concern for these young men in all areas of their lives and to truly mean it. They need to know that we’re there for them in all situations.”

Concerning the future, Whaley stressed, “We want to keep building this Rattler program and compete for and win district championships on a consistent basis. I want kids to leave here remembering football as a positive experience.”

In the 2015 season, the Rattler defense produced nine All-District honorees, with one player winning first team recognition, two players earning second team honors, and six players gaining Honorable Mention plaudits.

Over Whaley’s five-plus years of creating and directing Rattler defenses, the Rattlers have produced many excellent defensive players and a tradition of outstanding defensive units. Whaley emphasizes that he expects the defensive play to be even stronger over the next few seasons, which should mean more wins and greater playoff possibilities for the Rattler football program. Whaley says he is fully confident that the Rattler football program will become a power to be reckoned with on the Valley football scene in the near future.

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