While the Indians won’t be taking the field this week, everyone else in 15-4A will as the district slate officially begins.
With nine teams that can all make the playoffs, this will be one of the most competitive districts in the state.
“I think we’ve got a really well balanced district just like last year,” Indians head coach David Ream said. “Last year at this time I thought we would have eight pretty good teams and one that might not be so good, but that team ended up winning the whole thing.”
That team was Mesquite Poteet, which finished 1-9 in 2009, but rebounded to go 8-2 in 2010 and made it all the way to the state semifinals before losing to Aledo, the eventual state champion, 29-27.
“I feel like with nine teams somebody can get on a roll and it’s important to start district off well,” Ream said.
The coach thinks the Indians will have a distinct advantage this season by having their bye this early.
“Us being a game behind everybody gives us a chance to see everybody,” Ream said. “Everybody plays Poteet before we play them, but they have a bye week right before they play us.”
Mesquite Poteet will be the final regular season opponent for the Indians as the teams will play at the new-look Lumpkins Stadium in a game that could have major playoff implications.
Even though Poteet went as far as it did last season, Ream doesn’t think it’s the favorite this season.
“I think the favorite in the district is Corsicana,” Ream said. “They’ve had a bunch of all-district players coming back and they’re like the Corsicana of old with a big O-line, fast backs and a solid football team.”
But the coach hedges his bet by saying that at this point, teams don’t really know how good they are yet.
“It’s hard to tell early on because you don’t know the quality of teams they’ve played,” Ream said. “Flower Mound (Marcus) put 51 on us, but then Carter only gets seven. We’re somewhere in between.”
The Indians will have to have a different mindset this year in district if they expect to survive and make the playoffs.
“When we get a chance we need to put them away and don’t let them think they have a chance to win because anything can happen,” Ream said. “Anything can happen if you let them stay close enough. We just want to make sure we’re playing 48 minutes every game. We know we can play with people and that’s what we focused on Friday against Carter.”
Ream pointed out several instances last season where the Indians didn’t put games away when they had the opportunity.
“We got in a situation last year where we didn’t close out games we had a chance to win. That’s what I think we need to work on and focus on,” Ream said. “We played West Mesquite last year, we went up 56-55 with about four minutes left in the game and we couldn’t keep them from scoring. We played Red Oak last year and went up early in that game, but they scored twice in the fourth quarter and put us away.”
The 2010 Indians also had a lot of pressure last season that they don’t have anymore.
“They were the end of the old streak.
There was a lot of pressure on those kids,” Ream said. “They understand that we need to go out there and kind of have fun because now they don’t have to focus on losing a streak. That’s the mindset, they want to prove to themselves that they can start a new streak. They just need to go out there and do what they are coached to do.”
Ream thinks that starting a new streak is all the motivation this team needs.
“I think there are great motivators out there and they do a great job, but I don’t think you need to motivate a team for 10 weeks,” Ream said. “If you have to motivate a team for 10 weeks then you’re not doing your job at practice and the kids are pretty much brain dead. Motivation comes from within. You can come up with gimics for big games, but most of the time the kids have to motivate themselves to play. They understand what our expectations are.”
The Indians will start their road to a new playoff streak Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. on the road versus Terrell.
Corsicana (2-0) opens district play tonight at West Mesquite (0-2). Lancaster (2-0) hosts Forney (1-1).