COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2021: Fort Davis set to take the field again under new head coach Wardroup

Change has become an unfortunate constant for the Fort Davis football program.

The Indians enter the 2021 season with new head coach Bryan Wardroup taking charge, the fourth head coach in as many years.

Despite the turnover, there is still some continuity within the program and the team hopes it can build off the success of 2020 after finishing 6-4 and capturing the District 5-1A Division I title.

Wardroup, an assistant coach last season, said he’s impressed with the commitment that the players have shown despite the reshuffling.

“Unfortunately for the upperclassmen, they’ve gotten so used to it and it’s just that kind of time of year again,” he said. “They know how to make those transitions but at the same time, I think it’s helped me being an assistant last year to have a little bit of continuity rolling over.

The Fort Davis football team goes through a blocking drill during practice Friday at Jeff Davis County Park in Fort Davis. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

“I already knew the kids, we’ve already established a relationship, they know my expectations and I know their talents and skills. Not starting from scratch and being able to kind of pick up where we left off last year has been a benefit.”

The Indians also have nearly everyone returning after graduating just one senior.

Among the key returners is senior quarterback and linebacker Blake Rubio, who credited the younger players coming through in pivotal spots in 2020.

“It was the young guys,” Rubio said. “They really stepped up during district play along with the coaches. They gave their heart out for it.”

Wardroup added that having that successful experience from a year ago can go a long way in finding success in 2021.

“We only had one senior last year and he was a vocal leader but our underclassmen and young kids had to step up,” he said. “For the most part, they were ready for the moment and that is going to serve us well.”

Another senior, spread back Oscar Morales, added that the mood around the program is very positive and that the team wants to build off the momentum it created a year ago.

“We just have to put our mind on the game and go all out and give it everything we got,” he said.

The Indians will depend on Rubio and Morales to provide leadership but will also have a number of key returners.

Fort Davis will have all six starters back on defense, including junior defensive lineman Henry Downing and sophomore Adrian Chavez.

Senior linebacker Traven Smith and junior defensive back Isaac Ramos also return to give the Indians four returning first-team all-district selections on that side of the ball.

The Fort Davis football team goes through a tackling drill during practice Friday at Jeff Davis County Park in Fort Davis. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

“We’ve got some incredibly gifted athletes that are naturally skilled,” Wardroup said. “We have a lot of speed and quickness and so we’re going to try and utilize that to our advantage.”

The Indians open up the season against Dell City, which will field a team for the first time since 2018.

The game against the Cougars has traditionally been the opener for Fort Davis.

Leading up to that game, Wardroup wants to see how tough his team is on the field and credits them for being able to pull through adversity and find success through challenging circumstances.

“To have these guys come in and buy in immediately to what we’re asking them to do and just work as hard as they can and leave everything on the field every single day, their work ethic has been tremendous to watch,” he said.




>> Head coach: Bryan Wardroup

>> Coach’s overall record: 0-0.

>> Coach’s record at school: 0-0.

>> Assistant coaches, duties: Blair Kellner, defensive coordinator.


>> 2020 overall record: 6-4.

>> 2020 district record: 3-0 (First, District 5-1A Division I).

>> Last district title: 2020.

>> Last playoff appearance: 2020 (lost to Garden City).

>> Stadium name: Bart Coan Field.

>> Base offense: Multiple.

>> Base defense: 3-3.


>> Returning lettermen: 9.

>> Returning starters: 11 (5 offense, 6 defense).

>> Key returners: Oscar Morales, Sr., SB/DB; Henry Downing, Jr., OL/DL.

>> Key newcomers: Sawyer Downing, Fr., OL/DL.