It would be very easy for the members of the Odessa High football team to have a tough time getting up for practice these days.
Struggling to find success on either side of the football, the Bronchos are 0-5 overall and 0-3 in District 2-5A play heading into this week’s contest against Midland Lee.
But there they were Monday afternoon, flying around the newly installed turf on Coleman Field as head coach Ron King and his staff started putting in the game plan for the Rebels.
Even King was happy about the effort.
“It’s easy to get down,” he said. “But I thought we had a pretty good practice, with some good energy.
“We are still young and learning, but I thought it was better today.”
Sophomore quarterback Dayton Dennard still is battling a steep learning curve in order to get up to speed in what King and quarterback coach Tate Smith want from him on each snap.
But Dennard sees good things in the Bronchos’ future.
“I think we are getting better each day,” he said during a break in the offensive workout. “I need to get faster in everything because on Friday against (Abilene) Cooper, everything seemed to just be a blur because they were so fast.
“We have the talent and the players to compete, we just need to put it together.”
>> POOR TECHNIQUE: It was fourth-and-5 for Abilene Cooper at midfield during the fourth quarter Friday and the Bronchos were going to get the ball back as the Cougars sent their punting unit onto the field.
Things looked much brighter for Odessa High when the ball was then snapped over the head of the Abilene Cooper punter and went skidding downfield until it came to rest on the Cougars' 16-yard line before being picked up by the punter.
He looked up to find a few OHS defenders bearing down on him and tried to make a move to escape. When he did, one Bronchos’ defender was able to get a hand on him and pulled him to the turf — by his facemask.
So, what would have been first-and-10 deep in Cougars territory turned into first-and-10 for Abilene Cooper at the OHS 35.
“A big mistake,” Odessa High defensive coordinator Chris Harbin said. “Turned into a 51-yard penalty because it was a live-ball foul.
“Even if you let him kick it, the ball’s not going to get back to the 50 and if he tries to throw it, it’s probably intentional grounding because he’s not going to get it past the line of scrimmage.”
>> INJURY BUG: Already struggling to find players who are looking to compete, King saw a pair who were on the field have their nights shortened Friday against the Cougars.
While diving to make a tackle, safety Bryan Altamirano stayed down for a while after the play before being helped off the field.
Making it to his feet on his own after the same play was linebacker Cameron Reeves, who had his leg in a boot Monday at practice to protect a calf injury.
“One second I’m coming up to make the tackle and then the next thing I know, I’m flying through the air,” Reeves said. “I wasn’t expecting it and it hurt right away, but I was able to get up and get off the field on my own.”
Altamirano also was held out of practice Monday because of a possible rib injury and will be reevaluated later in the week to confirm his status for Friday’s game against Midland Lee.
“The play knocked the wind out of me and then I felt a pain in my side,” Altamirano said. “It still hurts, but it feels better, so we’ll have to see what Doc (trainer Steven Ortiz) has to say about it.”
>> KICKING UP HIS HEEL: Heading into last week's game, the Bronchos’ punting game had struggled and they had no field-goal team to speak of. And the departure of kicker Hector Lozano because of family reasons exacerbated the problem.
But Fabian Galindo, who had punted some in practice, stepped in and was more than adequate punting the ball.
Over the course of five kicks, Galindo averaged 42.2 yards per effort, more than 10 yards better than the average over the first four weeks.
>> TOUGH STRETCH: It doesn't get any easier for Odessa High.
After facing Permian, San Angelo Central and Abilene Cooper in the first three games of district play, the Bronchos get Midland Lee at home this week and then have to travel to face a much-improved Lubbock Coronado team next week.
After that, it’s the bye week for Odessa High, before consecutive games against Abilene High and Midland High.
>> LOWER LEVELS: It was a split decision for the Bronchos on Thursday against Abilene Cooper at Ratliff Stadium.
The sophomore team started the evening off with a victory over the Cougars, but the JV couldn’t keep the momentum going, falling in the second game of the doubleheader.
Both teams return to action this week when they travel to Grande Communications Stadium on Thursday to face Midland Lee at 5 and 7 p.m., respectively.