HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Former assistant coach back to lead the Golden Cranes’ program

CRANE With former head coach Jeff Cordell now at Sherman, the Golden Cranes have turned to a familiar face with Michael Pittman taking over the reins.

Pittman hasn’t had much time to transfer back to Crane and get familiar with his new players as he took over just a month ago.

While he’s had to hit the ground running at Crane, Pittman has the experience of being head coach, moving back to the Permian Basin after 10 years leading the program at Post High School.

Pittman spent five years as an assistant at Crane as the offensive line coach before going to Post.

“You know, I’m very excited,” Pittman said. “The kids have been great.”

While Pittman is getting settled in Crane, being at Crane ISD before has made it a little easier for him to transition.

“Obviously, a lot of faces have changed but one of the things that’s been pretty neat is that I still know several people that are here in town,” Pittman said. “That’s been nice.

“Some of these kids, I’ve coached their brothers or their cousins so that’s been a neat deal.”

Crane’s Trey Larson catches a pass during practice Thursday at El Ave Stadium in Crane. Michael Bauer|Odessa American

Pittman takes over a Crane program that went 8-3 last year and is coming off back-to-back district titles.

The Golden Cranes fell to Ballinger 35-34 in the first round of the playoffs last season.

“Crane’s a great athletic town,” Pittman said. “The kids have been awesome. We’re not too far into this deal but I’ve been really pleased with the kids and their attentiveness. They seem to be geared in.

“There’s a lot of new changes and lots of new terminology and possibly change of style but the kids have been real receptive. They’ve done everything that we’ve asked of them. I knew it was going to take them a while but I felt like a lot of the new stuff they’ve done; they’ve picked up faster than I hoped they would.”

The top four teams in each district advance to the postseason so the Golden Cranes will be in the playoffs the next two seasons as they find themselves in a four-team district with Alpine, Tornillo and Compass Academy.

Pittman says he’s still trying to get to know the other three teams in his district but he expects a challenge from Alpine.

“As far as teams, I would assume Alpine just because I’m a little more familiar with Alpine,” Pittman said. “I don’t know a whole lot about the rest of the district teams. I know Alpine was in our district the last time I was here. That’ll be a big game for us and a big game for them.

“That would probably be my pick. Compass Academy is also in our district. I don’t know a whole lot about them. There’s a lot of new stuff that I don’t know too much about but I’m going to work on figuring out everything.”

One thing that will be different for Crane and Pittman is the district schedule, which features a round-robin format.

“I’ve never been a part of that so I don’t know how it’s going to work,” Pittman said of the schedule. “I’ve had a couple of times where I’ve faced a team in preseason and then get them in the playoffs but never played a round robin district schedule.

” I think there are things it can help. Maybe you can be a little more familiar with people you’re playing but at the same time, I can see getting a false-sense of security the first time you play them and start thinking that they won it the first time so it’ll be easy the second time. It’ll be an interesting challenge. We’ll have to figure out as we go along how we’ll navigate this.”

But does having a four-team district take some of the stress off for Pittman as he enters his first year as head coach at Crane?

“I don’t know that it does,” Pittman said. “I think you want to put out the best team that you can put out on the field, whether it’s a four-team district or anything like that.

“It doesn’t change our mission or our goals. We’re just trying to get better every day. We’re trying to become the best football team we can.”

Since the start of practices on Aug. 1, Pittman has been busy getting to know his players and he pointed out a few that have stood out so far.

“There’s been a couple that I thought have really stepped up,” Pittman said. “Keaten Sena, he’s going to play quarterback. You ask a lot of your quarterback and I think he’s done a great job. There’s another kid in Manny Aranda.”

But with a new season and a new school comes a new challenge and Pittman says he’s excited for this year.

“Crane’s a special place,” Pittman said. “It’s a supportive community. We have new kids. I’m eager to see where we can get going and where we can take things.”




>> Head coach: Michael Pittman.

>> Coach’s overall record: 77-29.

>> Coach’s record at school: 0-0

>> Assistant coaches, duties: Guy Barnett, defensive coordinator; Naldo Esparza, wide receivers/defensive; Greg Raymond, linebackers/wide receivers; Jesse Casarez, offensive line/defensive line; Guy Barnett, defensive coordinator; Eric Hill, defensive line/offensive line; Henry Anderson, linebackers; Michael Clarkson, quarterbacks/defensive backs; Billy Garza, running backs/outside linebackers.


>> 2021 overall record: 8-3.

>> 2021 district record: 4-0.

>> Last district title: 2021.

>> Last playoff appearance: 2021 (def. Brady in bi-district; lost to Childress in area).

>> Stadium name: El Ave Stadium (5,000).

>> Base offense: Option.

>> Base defense: 3-4.


>> Returning lettermen: 9.

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

>> Key returners: Keaton Sena , 6-1, 185, Sr., QB/LB; Manuel Aranda, 5-9, 160, Sr., WR/DB; Blake Rodriguez, 5-9, 160, Sr., RB/LB; Trey Larsen, 6-1, 175, WR/LB; Tavian Bustos, 5-11, 215, OL/DL; Bryan Galindo, 5-8, 175, Sr., RB/LB.

>> Key newcomers: Elijah Hernandez, 5-8, 165, Jr., RB/LB; Terrance Godette, 6-1, 190, Jr., OL/DL; Luis Martinez, 5-9, 150, Soph., WR/DB.