• October 21, 2019

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Greenwood Rangers - Odessa American: Football

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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Greenwood Rangers

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 11:45 pm

MIDLAND Rusty Purser tries to not to think about it too much, but it was hard for the new Greenwood head coach not to notice that he will be pacing up and down the sideline on a field named in his father’s honor.

The son of former longtime Greenwood football head coach Bob Purser, as well as an alum, Purser will carry on his family’s legacy after being hired to coach the Rangers.

For the record, he doesn’t feel any added pressure of coaching the same school that his dad did from 1986-2005.

“My son asked me that question when I got here and I threw it right back at him saying’ how does it feel to be playing on the same field that’s named after your granddad and was the field that your dad played on,” Purser said. “For me, it’s not intimidating at all.

“My dad had a great tenure here in Greenwood; he did a lot of good things. They had a lot of success. My goal is to come in and make some new traditions. I’ve worked with some guys who have taught me good things. To represent Greenwood as a player, as an assistant and now as a head coach means a lot to me.”

It’s the first time that Purser will coach at Greenwood since the 1999 season, when he served as an assistant to his father.

And he couldn’t be more eager for this fall.

The Rangers are coming off a 10-3 season that included at District 2-4A Division II championship and return plenty of seniors from a team that reached the regional quarterfinals.

 “I think the expectation level is very high so that makes us all very excited,” Purser said. “It’s exciting for me. The kids are excited to build on what they did last year. This is a big season for this class.

“There’s a little over 26 seniors that most of played last year or were a big part of that run. They’re still hungry for more and they took that into the offseason. When I got here in April, they did a good job of working on strength and conditioning throughout the summer. The kids have been ready to build on last year.”

With so many returning seniors, Purser says his team’s biggest strength will be built upon the team’s leadership.

“With 26 seniors at a 4A school, that’s a huge number,” Purser said. “With that many guys that played last year, that really adds to it. It’s one thing to say that you’re a senior but it’s another to say that you’re a senior with varsity football experience.

“That certainly is one of our strengths. These guys are also hungry and felt like they should’ve gone further in the playoffs and they’ve taken that chip into the offseason.”

But with a change in command during the offseason, the Rangers are still dealing with transitions.

“When a new boss comes in, there’s going to be some level of new,” Purser said. “We have a new staff, a little bit. Some of the assistants are the same but we have a new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator. There are some new ideas that I think will take some growth throughout the season.”

But more or less, the excitement level is still high among the players.

“We’re really excited about our senior year and a new coach and the coaching staff that he brought,” senior safety Justin Bostic said. “We’re eager to get started.”

Senior wide receiver Brody Ray is another key returning player for the Rangers.

“It’s going to be a good senior season and we’re eager to get back on the field,” Ray said. “We’ve got high expectations for this year with a bunch of seniors.”

While adding another district championship isn’t out of the question for the Rangers, it also puts a target on their back as they compete alongside Snyder, Fort Stockton, Monahans, Lamesa, Sweetwater and Pecos.

“For me, this district is going to be fun,” Purser said. “There are some rivals that when I played and some new rivals that Greenwood has built over the years. Anytime you’re the district champ, there’s a big target and we’re going to go into this season with that target.

“But it was earned. It was one of those where they had to beat some good teams last year to be district champions. Going back into the year as the district champs and wanting to rekindle the energy that it took to win is where we are. Each one of the district games are important.”

But as the Rangers get ready for the challenges this season, Purser is glad to be home.

“More than anything, it means a lot to me,” Purser said. “I grew up here and lived here for eight years as a coach’s son. That was a big thing for me.

“It’s big for my family too. I’ve seen this community grow and to be back here in this community to have a good opportunity to coach is great. It means a lot for me to bring that excitement level to my family.”

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAMichaelba

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