Edinburg High senior offensive tackle Frank Coronado (center) signs a national letter of intent to play college football at Trinity University in San Antonio while surrounded by his coaches and family during a signing ceremony Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at Edinburg High School in Edinburg. Andrew McCulloch | The Monitor

EDINBURG — One year ago, Edinburg High’s Frank Coronado was not sure if he would ever get the opportunity to take the football field again as a player.

But after a roller-coaster ride through the COVID-19 pandemic and an unpredictable season, the Bobcats’ senior offensive tackle was able to reflect on his turbulent journey and look ahead to his next chapter.

Surrounded by friends, family and coaches, Coronado put pen to paper Wednesday at Edinburg High School and signed a national letter of intent to play college football at Trinity University in San Antonio, securing another opportunity to continue his career on the gridiron that seemed so elusive just a short time ago.

“Since I was a freshman, I remember sitting in those bleachers watching other kids sign and I didn’t know if this would be possible for me one day,” Coronado said. “But everything lined up and I was able to have a good season and have some decent film this year. Trinity called me and when I stepped on campus, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I’m just happy that this day was able to happen.”

Coronado has thrived both athletically and academically during his stint at Edinburg High.

His relentless work in the weight room and the classroom translated to the football field, where he established himself as a versatile blocker and anchor on the Bobcats’ offensive line.

Coronado wrapped up his junior campaign with plans for a big senior season that almost never materialized.

On the eve of spring ball and offseason workouts resuming, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic racked the Rio Grande Valley and brought schools, athletics and most of everything else to a screeching halt.

During that time Coronado, who was isolated at home, had no way of knowing when they would be able to take the field together again or if he and the near three dozen Bobcats seniors would get to finish their high school athletic careers on the field.

“I just wanted to play at Richard Flores Stadium again,” Coronado said. “I remember during the summer that was one of the things on my mind: Will I ever get to play high school football again? … I’m so grateful for those games because some people weren’t able to. The fact that we were able to play one last year together meant a lot to me.”

Coronado and his Edinburg High teammates returned to work in August, becoming the last school district in the RGV to officially begin preseason football activities together on campus.

After a tumultuous start to the season, Coronado and his senior teammates were able to galvanize the Bobcats’ football squad and improved dramatically by the end of the regular season with a shot at qualifying for the state playoffs.

“When we (first) came in, it felt like we didn’t really have a group and our unity wasn’t there, but that’s in part to us not being on campus since March,” Coronado said. “We realized we had goals we wanted to accomplish as a team this year and each week we progressively got better. By the end of the season, we were where we wanted to be.”

Coronado and the Bobcats won their final game of the season, a 35-21 victory over District 31-6A rival PSJA High, but were unable to continue into the playoffs after earning a postseason berth on the field due to an incident involving an altercation between a teammate and an official.

Coronado’s football future was again thrown into question.

“The way we ended was obviously not how we wanted to. It took me a while to process it, but things aren’t always going to happen the way you want them to,” Coronado said. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but it’s those battles you have to fight in life that is going to make you a better person.”

“A lot of guys are just used to playing football, but this year was a lot more than football,” he added. “There were rules we had to follow and the way that it ended, it meant a lot to me that the guys were able to stay so close and not separate.”

But Edinburg’s rock-solid offensive tackle maintained his persistence determined to not allow the adversity he faced to define his path forward.

A few weeks later, Coronado was offered a scholarship to play collegiately at Trinity as doubt faded away and another unforeseen opportunity surfaced.

“Coach (Wade) Lytal, the offensive coordinator, got in contact with me and I met him. Also got to meet Coach (Jerheme) Urban, who’s a former NFL veteran, and I just immediately fell in love with it. … It felt like home,” Coronado said.

“There are going to be some obstacles you have to overcome, but if you put in the work, you’re true to yourself and you believe in the system, good things are going to happen. It’s important to not give up and believe in yourself.”

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