COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: Greenwood hopes to smooth things out after a bumpy 2020

The Greenwood football team dealt with plenty of growing pains in 2020 as head coach Rusty Purser fielded a relatively young team.

The team had its challenges but still put together a 6-4 record and a Class 4A Division II bi-district title in 2020.

Purser believes that the experience developed last year will start to pay dividends in 2021.

“I think it’s immeasurable,” Purser said. “It’s one of those things that you can’t trade and especially that time late in the season playing district and playoff games.

“Every time we had an opportunity to let a younger guy have some time on the field, I think that helped their maturity and they learned what it takes to win on Friday nights.”

Most of that experience returns to the offensive side of the ball that includes a group led by junior quarterback Ty Flowers.

Purser added that Flowers has matured from a year ago and is anxious to see how far he comes along.

Joining him in the backfield will be senior Aaron Fikes who created a solid 1-2 punch along with Trey Cross in 2020.

The Greenwood football team runs a play during practice August 4 at Greenwood High School. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

Fikes’ season was cut short due to a broken foot and Purser said that he’s ready to take on the leading role.

“He started coming along and was fixing to be our go-to guy before he got hurt,” Purser said. “He’s back healthy. He had a great offseason to get himself stronger and recover. Aaron has a big opportunity in front of him but I think he’s ready to take on that role.”

The offensive line has seen a bit of reshuffling along with the receivers but Purser is encouraged by the progress he’s seen so far from the group.

One of those contributors is his son Rance, who will line up as a slot receiver and handle kicking duties for the Rangers.

Rance Purser was brought up from the junior varsity team as a sophomore and said that he’s also seen the team grow up.

“It’s good to see how much we’ve changed in one year,” Rance Purser said. “It’s a whole new world and I think that leadership aspect is really strong. I think we’ve got some guys this year that want to be there for everyone.”

The greater question marks for Greenwood will be on defense according to Rusty Purser.

The Rangers return just four starters on that side of the ball including all-state linebacker Micahel Gutierrez.

One of the players expected to fill in those shoes is junior Caleb Yarbrough.

“It’s really a big thing to step up and just focus on doing your job,” Yarbrough said. “We have that chemistry but it’s really all about how it comes together.”

In addition to the rising newcomers, Purser said that he’s moving over a trio of seniors who started on offense to defense: linemen Fernando Zapata and Rolando Rodriguez and wide receiver Cade Carroll.

“All three of those guys started for us on offense last year,” Purser said. “We’re going to ask all three of those guys to step up and be senior leaders and add some experience to a group that doesn’t have a lot.”

The Greenwood football team lines up for a play during practice August 4 at Greenwood High School in Midland. (Tony Venegas|Odessa American)

One thing that Purser recognizes with this group is that the Rangers will be tested early.

All five of Greenwood’s nondistrict games are against playoff teams starting with the trio of Lubbock Estacado, Brownwood and Andrews.

Canyon and Graham round out the early portion of the schedule and Purser added that how the team grows up will determine how far the Rangers can go.

He knows that the potential is there since Greenwood made a run to the Class 4A state semifinals in 2019.

“We feel like our expectation is to be that top team in our district and to win a district championship,” Purser said. “We were an overtime loss away for us last year and it would have been our third district title in a row. We want to get back to that and we know it’s going to take a lot to get us there.”



>> Head coach: Rusty Purser.

>> Coach’s overall record: 95-96.

>> Coach’s record at school: 20-5.

>> Assistant coaches, duties: Brody Anthony, defensive coordinator; Maison Ragland, offensive coordinator/RB; Larry Galindo, linebackers; Stephen Rodriguez, wide receivers; Kendall Thomas, tight ends; Brien Burchett, defensive backs; Josh McDonald, defensive line; Pat Liles, defensive back; Matt Villanueva, offensive line; David Buitron, defensive ends; Ryan  Holmstrom, wide receivers; Bobby Alvarez, defensive assistant; Andy Hinds, offensive assistant; Malcome Moerbe, assistant.


>> 2020 overall record: 6-4.

>> 2020 district record: 3-1 (Second, District 1-4A Division II).

>> Last district title: 2019.

>> Last playoff appearance: 2020.

>> Stadium name: Purser Field at J.M. King Memorial Stadium (3,500).

>> Base offense: Power Pistol.

>> Base defense: 4-3.


>> Returning lettermen: 18.

>> Returning starters: 12 (8 offense, 4 defense).

>> Key returners: Aaron Fikes, 5-9, 180, RB, Jr; Jimmy Vasquez, 5-9, 185, LB, Jr.

>> Key newcomers: Shawn Kelly, 5-10, 175, LB, Jr; Cash McIntyre, 5-10, 165, DB, Jr.; Zane Ogle, 5-11, 160, WR, Jr; Orlando Baeza, 5-10, 200, OL, Sr.