Ask anyone around the Tiger football team about defensive end Ricky Olvera, and two words will immediately follow.
That’s how much respect Olvera, a senior, has built up as he has risen through the Corsicana football program, from backup on varsity last year to probable all-district pick this season.
You can ask his head coach this season, Hal Wasson. Olvera’s head coach last season, Steve Hoffman. The assistant coaches that have been around him since seventh grade. Those that are new to Corsicana this year.
His position coach, Willie Rash. New defensive coordinator Greg Davis.
They all say the same thing — this is a program player.
“We call him Mr. Consistency,” Wasson said. “He is the most consistent guy we have. I love his work ethic. I love his disposition. I love his dedication. There’s no drama to him. He’s a great ambassador for our program.”
Program Player. Mr. Consistency. Ambassador. It means a lot to Olvera, who will be in the lineup again Friday night for the Tigers’ bi-district playoff game against Denton Braswell.
“I always put the team first,” Olvera said. “That’s the priority. Freshman, JV, everyone knows who the team players are. They don’t miss days. They’re always there to improve the team and themselves.”
Olvera brings to mind an All-State defensive end for the Tigers from earlier this decade — the late Da’Quan Raindle. Raindle helped the Tigers make three straight playoff appearances from 2009-11, including a state semifinal run in 2011.
Raindle set the tone that season by being at the fieldhouse every morning during offseason workouts. He led by example and with his play. A united Tigers team went 13-2 and won four playoff games before losing to eventual state champion Aledo.
Olvera provides the same type of leadership. He doesn’t miss practice. He doesn’t miss meetings or film study. He is on time. He is always around — all of this while working at Cotton Patch, too.
“He’s everything for us,” Davis said. “He’s always where he’s supposed to be. He always does his job. He’s a good leader. He’s a good model for young kids. And I wish we had more like him.
“I wish he was just a junior. Ricky’s a great player and it means a lot to him.”
Olvera took a familiar path to varsity football. He played on the A team in seventh, eighth and freshman year. He was on the junior varsity as a sophomore.
Olvera (6-foot, 210 pounds) moved up to varsity last year where he opened the season on the depth chart as a backup tight end. He kicked some and ultimately ended up at defensive end. He did not record a tackle in 12 games while backing up all-district defensive end Melvin Martin.
In fact, the Tigers had 22 players make first- or second-team all-district on the way to last season’s District 8-5A-DII title. Nine more Tigers were named honorable mention.
Seven of them — fellow defensive linemen Brayshun Parrish and Jacob Lopez, linebackers Tyler Farmer and Eric Dickson and defensive backs Drew Denbow, Shemar Smith and Ja’Braylan Douglas — are expected to start on Friday night against Braswell.
And yet here Olvera is entering Friday’s game with 51 tackles, second to Lopez among Tiger defensive linemen (linebacker Grant Harrison, who played JV last year, leads Corsicana with 79 tackles; Farmer has 78).
“I learned a lot from Melvin,” Olvera said, “and carried that into my senior year.”
Olvera, No. 87 in your program, had his best games this season on the road in a frantic win over North Forney and a tough loss to Royse City. Olvera had eight tackles in each of those games. He leads the Tigers with 12 quarterback pressures, including four against Saginaw Boswell.
“He was definitely a kid we had to account for,” said Royse City coach David Petroff, whose team will play Lovejoy in a bi-district playoff game Friday. “He played hard, and I think he got a little banged up in our game. He kept coming back.”
The Tigers had several costly personal fouls in the 27-0 loss to Royse City. Some of his teammates got frustrated for obvious reasons. Olvera was not one of them.
“Coach Wasson always tell us, every snap, you have to keep your composure,” Olvera said. “Because you can lose it. You have to be ready for the next play, even if the other team is talking.”
Football has become Olvera’s favorite sport. He played Pee wee football, soccer and basketball growing up. He liked basketball more. He put in a lot of work, and it paid off. He played varsity basketball last season.
Football has taken over though. Olvera’s a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and lists James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Shazier and current Steel Curtain star T.J. Watt as his favorites.
Olvera has two siblings — Ivan, 23 and Elizabeth 21. Ricky is 17. His parents, Enrique and Laura, both were born in Mexico. They are his real idols.
“All the sacrifices they have made,” Ricky said. “Just for us to have a better life.”
Olvera is a proud member of his immediate family, and the Tigers’ football family, too. Being on a team is everything to him.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, he bought into our program from day one,” Wasson said. “And that’s obvious to me.”