• November 14, 2019

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Iraan Braves - Odessa American: Football

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2019 11:45 pm

IRAAN For the third time in as many seasons, the Iraan Braves football team will be under the direction of a new head coach.

For some schools, a continuous change in command would be arduous to overcome.

But Iraan’s senior halfback and strong safety Dylan Kent and his teammates are eager to show that they can continue to produce results on the field.

“You can see it as a good thing or a bad thing but our senior class has had three different coaches and I think every time we’ve handled it well,” Kent said. “We have great talent and great coaches so that’s looking good.”

Matthew Luddeke has taken the reins of the program, replacing Corby Maurer.

Luddeke comes in after serving as the offensive coordinator at Industrial ISD season.

“Iraan is full of tradition out here,” Luddeke said. “We’ve got a lot of players who are excited to get back out on the field.

“We’ve spent a lot of offseason time preparing and the town’s excited and knows what football’s all about. These guys love football and we’re ready to get going as a staff.”

The Braves are coming off a 10-2 season in 2018 that included a trip to the area round of the Class 2A Division II playoffs.

Getting acquainted with his new players didn’t take long for Luddeke.

“Getting to know the guys, that all started back in May when I got here,” Luddeke said. “I knew these guys within a couple of days. Started to learn about our program and what we want to be about.

“Getting the coaching staff hired was the most important thing to do during the summer. We want a group of guys that are pushing for the same thing and I think we hired a great staff with great experience. We’re ready to get after it.”

The number of returners has given Luddeke reason to be optimistic.

“I think the biggest strength is the tradition of this program,” Luddeke said. “We definitely have a bunch of players returning. I believe we have somewhere between five and six on one side of the ball and three or four on the other. There are guys with varsity experience playing here.

“These guys know how to win around here and I think that’s a strength in any program. Sometimes, you have to teach guys how to win but these guys are already winners so we’ve gotten that taken care of.”

However, the total number of players on the roster gives the Braves little room for injuries.

“I think one of the hurdles that we’re going to encounter is our numbers,” Luddeke said. “This year, we’re as low in numbers as we’ve been in a long time. We’re going to have to take care of ourselves and stay in shape and put the right things in the right place. But if we can keep our 19 guys healthy, we’ll be all right.”

Last year, the Braves finished second in the District 1-2A standing behind rival McCamey and with Iraan playing in a four-team district that also includes Wink and Van Horn, the Braves’ playoff place is already secured.

Luddeke is still anticipating a tough fight from everyone in the district.

“I think our district is going to be physical,” Luddeke said. “I’ve looked at some of the teams that we’re playing and Wink’s the favorite. You also have McCamey and Van Horn. You can’t take anyone lightly. Everyone out here in West Texas knows how to play football.

“I don’t know if we’ve proved anything yet. We have a new team as far as roles of the players go. I feel like we can play with anyone in this district but it’s going to take everyone that we have.”

For Kent and his senior teammates, it’ll be one more opportunity to suit up this fall.

“We’ve been training and practicing and getting ready throughout the summer,” Kent said. “I know like 10 of us that are seniors and I can say that we are ecstatic. We can’t wait for this year and to show everyone what we can do.”

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAMichaelba

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