HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Iraan rebuilding roster as Braves look to get back in playoff mix

IRAAN The Iraan Braves didn’t have the best season last year but Coach Berry Bowman hopes to lead his young team to a better outing this year.

Bowman is in year two as head coach at Iraan and said last year’s 1-8 (0-5 in district) record was tough and that the team struggled to keep enough players.

This year Bowman said he has 21 returning lettermen with 11 on offense and 10 on defense. He said in 2020 they only had 14 players and at one point ended a game with only 10.

“When I got here I really made it a point to make it my first goal to make sure to fill up a team,” Bowman said. “I recruited in the hallways and I make sure that every kid who wants to play can…we picked up more with the freshman class and added more until last year we had about 25.”

He said this year they have about 32 now and started with 28. “We are mostly freshman and sophomores. We do have tons of skill but know this will be a challenge.”

Bowman said he didn’t consider dropping from 11-man to six-man, although due to enrollment numbers the team could drop in classification.

“This community doesn’t want six-man,” he said. “We are in a tough district and it can be hard to compete with schools that have larger numbers. It is a challenge but it is the challenge we want.”

He said with a small squad that conditioning is a priority as many will play both sides of the ball. Bowman’s key players include his son, Cole Bowman, a junior, who will return at quarterback.

He acknowledged it can be tough to coach your own child. “It is difficult…I’m also the QB coach so I’m coaching him twice and sometimes maybe I’m a little tougher on him.”

He expects big things from Cole Bowman and also from junior running back J.D. Solis and wide receiver Blake Johnson.

“Blake was newcomer of the year last year in our district and he will be a sophomore this year.”

Bowman said both Cole and junior Ethan Barrera are leaders on the team.

The squad has only a single senior – Adan Sanchez.

“He is quiet. He works hard and leads by example,” Bowman said of Adan.

Bowman said the biggest issue for the Iraan football program for the last five years has been numbers.

They are also in a tough district (5-2A Division II) with with McCamey and Wink, which are both perennial powerhouses with two of the best players in the state in Matthew Rosas of McCamey and Kanon Gibson of Wink.

Bowman said Iraan gives tremendous support to the football program and that a recent fundraiser was a huge success. “This town has a lot of pride in the program … we won state in 1996 and went to state and lost in 2016,” he said. “The community is very pro football. They still want us to win and be good but they also understand we are young and in a tough district.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be back and excited about the potential. We will get better this year and it will show with an improved product on the field.”

>> DISTRICT GAUNTLET: “Oh man, it’s going to be a tough, tough year and Sterling City moved up to our district and Water Valley and Wink is going to have a lot of kids and McCamey is always tough.” Bowman said. “But I have never played Sterling City or Water Valley.”

>> REPS HELP: Bowman added that the biggest positive from last season has been continuity. “Doing the same offense and we are getting more and more efficient and more comfortable.”



>> Head coach: Berry Bowman

>> Coach’s overall record: 1-8.

>> Coach’s record at school: 1-8.

>> Assistant coaches, duties: Troy Walker, offensive coordinator.


>> 2021 overall record: 1-8.

>> 2021 district record: 0-5 (sixth).

>> Last district title: 2106.

>> Last playoff appearance: 2018.

>> Stadium name: Brave Stadium (3,000)

>> Base offense: Spread.

>> Base defense: 3-4.


>> Returning lettermen: 21.

>> Returning starters: 22 (11 offense, 11 defense).

>> Key returners: Cole Bowman QB; J.D. Solis, RB; Blake Johnson, WR; Adan Sanchez, OL/DL; Ivan Mendoa, OL/DL; Matthew Willock, OL/LB; Angel Zapata, WR/DB; Danny Reyes, DB; Cooper Bowman, WR/DB.

>> Key newcomers: N/A.