COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Bowman brought in to help Iraan return to former success

The Iraan football team is looking to turn things around under new leadership.

Head coach Berry Bowman was named the Braves’ new head coach in March after spending time as Kermit’s offensive coordinator.

He wanted to take on the challenge of rebuilding a team that went 0-20 over the past two seasons while working at a place that felt like home.

“I thought, ‘This will be a perfect part of my career,’” Bowman said. “To go to a place that had tradition, a place that had heart and wanted to come back to being great again.

“It couldn’t have been a better connection between us and them.”

Bowman will start his first season at Iraan with 20 returning players, with eight starting on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Iraan head football coach Berry Bowman watches as his players execute a rushing play during practice Aug. 4 at Brave Stadium in Iraan. (Chris Amaya|Odessa American)

One of those returners is running back and linebacker J.D. Soliz, who is looking to make his mark as a sophomore leader.

His primary goal for the Braves includes getting the team back into the win column.

“We need to work together as a team and help each other out during difficult situations in games,” Soliz said.

The two-way starter believes Bowman is the right man to get the winning mindset back in Iraan.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Braves were at the top of their game, reaching the Class 2A Division II state title game against Bremond in 2016.

Although the current Braves weren’t a part of that team, being able to see that playoff run as younger players shows them what is needed to set the program on a different path, Bowman said.

He believes it will take a lot of hard work but the goal can be achieved with the right mindset.

“Going to state at any point for anyone is the highest challenge you could do,” Bowman said. “All we got to do is push them to that next level again.”

The head coach went through offseason programs with his new players after he was hired, but he was slightly worried they wouldn’t know what to expect from him when the summer came around.

Iraan football players line up to execute an offensive play during a 7 on 7 drill at practice Aug. 4 at Brave Stadium in Iraan. (Chris Amaya|Odessa American)

To ease everyone into the transition, Bowman focused on football fundamentals in Iraan’s first few practices this month.

The play of quarterbacks Braden Kent and Cole Bowman, Berry’s son, has stood out as the team prepares for the season.

They will challenge each other for the starting spot and whoever doesn’t earn the role will play receiver.

“The good news about this school is that every guy can do everything,” Bowman said. “It’s a small school, it’s not like a big school where there’s one guy who can only play defense. It’s not like that here, everybody plays everything.”

With coaching experience ranging from Class 5A to 2A, Bowman knows how to adjust to playing with a smaller roster like Iraan’s.

Keeping players fresh is a challenge the head coach is anticipating in his first season in District 1-2A.

The Braves will play their district matchups against McCamey, Wink, Morton, Plains and Seagraves.

As Iraan heads into the new campaign, players are noticing the energy that Bowman is bringing in meetings and practices.

Soliz said Bowman is the ultimate team guy.

“He’s more of a team person than just by himself,” Soliz said. “He believes in all of us.”

Bowman has one personal goal before he commands the sidelines for the Braves: restoring the school’s former glory.

“We need to come out and win,” Bowman said. “We need to get back to the old Iraan.”

>> Follow Chris Amaya on Twitter at @OA_CAmaya




>> Head coach: Berry Bowman.

>> Coach’s overall record: 0-0.

>> Coach’s record at school: 0-0.

>> Assistant coaches, duties: Troy Walker, offensive coordinator; Chris Moreno, defensive coordinator; Garrett Garza; Chance Virdell; Rick Onofre.



>> 2020 overall record: 0-10.

>> 2020 district record: 0-4.

>> Last district title: 2016.

>> Last playoff appearance: 2018.

>> Stadium name: Brave Stadium.

>> Base offense: Spread.

>> Base defense: 3-4



>> Returning lettermen: 20.

>> Returning starters: 16 (8 offense, 8 defense).

>> Key returners: Braden Kent, QB/WR/DB; J.D. Soliz, RB/LB.; Adan Sanchez, OL/DL.

>> Key newcomers: Cole Bowman, QB/WR/LB.