KERMIT It’s the third time in four years that Kermit has entered a season with a new head football coach.

However, head coach John Fellows is excited for the new challenge as he takes over a program that’s been struggling to find success in recent years.

Fellows comes in having previously spent eight years as the head coach in Alpine.

He replaces Nate Gensler who resigned back in January after one season with the Yellow Jackets.

“I think everybody is excited,” Fellows said. “The coaching staff right now is working hard to get everybody ready. the players are excited and the coaches are also excited. It’s a good time to be here.”

The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 4-7 overall record, 2-2 in District 1-3A DI, which ended with a bi-district round loss.

Kermit returns five starters on offense and five on defense.

“Kermit had a good season last year so that was one thing that we want to build off,” Fellows said. “They took some steps in the right direction. But we want to make sure that we’re continuing in the right direction. They played some young guys last year. I think some of the experience coming back is going to help us. The older kids are going to help us out.”

Senior Mauricio Perez will be taking over at quarterback.

“We’ll be a little inexperienced at quarterback but that’s just the way it goes sometimes,” Fellows said. “I think Mauricio will do a good job for us. He’s a great kid.”

While the Yellow Jackets have managed five playoff appearances since 2016 (two of which came automatically from being in a four-team district), Kermit has only had one winning record during that span and the team is eager to get further in the playoffs.

Still, Fellows is confident in the talent that he and his coaches have as well as being able to build a successful culture around the program.

“It’s an old coach’s cliche but it’s about culture,” Fellows said. “It’s about bringing my culture and what we expect from them. Every year, we start practice and it doesn’t matter where I’m at but my goal is to win a district championship. I think if we can stay healthy and get some good buy-in from these players, we’re going to do some great things. I believe the talent is here.”

Fellows is also excited about his staff which includes some Kermit alumni members.

“I’m really excited about the coaching staff that we were able to put together,” Fellows said. “We have some guys who were able to add some Kermit boys back. They wanted to come back and help change the culture of this program and get it going in the right direction. I’m excited for the staff and the coaches that the kids are going to play for.”

Expect Kermit to be strong in the trenches this season as the Yellow Jackets welcome back seven returning starting linemen.

“Diego Juarez will be an anchor on the o-line and d-line,” Fellows said. “One thing coming in is that we have good size. We have some good athleticism. We’re excited about that.”

Fellows said the strength from both lines will be a huge strength for this year’s team.

“It doesn’t matter what level of football (but) I think games are going to be won and lost up front,” Fellows said. “Those are the unsung heroes. But your offensive line is going to have to push people away and your d-line has to control their side of the ball. You have to have a quarterback who can play and that’s true at any level.”

The Yellow Jackets will be going up against Brownfield, Denver City, Slaton and Lamesa in district play this year.

The team will begin its season Aug. 25 on the road at Miles before returning home to face Crane the following week.

The Yellow Jackets will begin district play against Lamesa Oct. 5 at home.