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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Kermit Yellow Jackets - Odessa American: Football

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Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2019 11:45 pm

KERMIT The buzz has quieted down a bit in the northern part of Winkler County.

Bubba Ross was scrambling after being hired as the Kermit head coach last summer and admitted there was a lot of stress handling the transition from the previous year.

“Last year at this time, I was treading water,” Ross said. “I was still trying to find a lot of coaches and get the kids out because we didn’t have a good rapport with them yet coming late in the summer like that.”

Ross tried to make the best of a chaotic situation and finished with a 4-6 record in 2018.

Fast forward to the present day and the scene is calmer for the second-year head coach now that he’s had a chance to build a relationship with his players and implement his system.

“We have a full coaching staff and our numbers are way up with about 50 kids total, which is double from last year.” Ross said. “The kids know us and that’s the most important thing right there.”

That familiarity is helpful for seniors like quarterback Arturo Gonzalez, who says there’s a noticeable difference between how this offseason went compared to the year before.

“There’s a lot more stability,” Gonzalez said. “We know Coach Ross better as a person and a coach. It’s just a lot easier knowing how he likes things done.”

The senior signal-caller will have a pivotal role in how the Yellow Jackets fare in 2019.

Kermit is guaranteed a playoff spot in its four team district but the hope is that the team can continue to move forward which starts by winning in the postseason.

“We’re just looking to improve from last year,” Gonzalez said. “We didn’t get to where we want to be but it’s just another goal every year.”

Kermit will look to achieve that goal thanks to a mix of experience and new faces.

Gonzalez is back as the quarterback along with senior tight end Brady Johnson, who will also step in on defense as a linebacker. Daniel Ramirez also returns as another outside weapon on offense and that foundation at the skill positions gives Ross something to work with.

“There is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement of our guys,” Ross said. “It’s good to have a lot of returners coming in with our young guys coming up. It’s a good mix blending in.”

One unit that Ross admitted will need to come along quickly is on the offensive line, where Kermit is replacing three starters. Even with the experience at the skill positions, the Yellow Jackets understand that play up front will be key

“We need our line to grow up,” he said. “We have two good senior leaders in Darius Pando and Angelo Lopez coming back but the younger guys are going to need to step up.”  

But even with those question marks up front, Ross is confident in what he has coming back.

“I just felt like last year there was a lot of guessing with what was going on,” Ross said. “But we found our players and we feel comfortable with where we are right now.”

That comfort level is reassuring for Gonzalez who wants to make sure that he can make the most out of his senior season. With a plan in place, the expectations are even higher that the Yellow Jackets can win the games it needs to do potentially win a district title and go beyond that.

“We have a lot of new guys on the team this year so we just have to play together because that’s one of the most important things to do,” he said. “The goal ever year is to win a district title and I feel more confident that we can do that.”

Ross shares that same confidence. He understands that every team is different but with a more stable foundation in place, that can help his team take the next step forward.

“We have a lot of smart kids at Kermit and they’re really buying in to what we’re teaching,” he said. “Last year, it was a building stage that was slow and we didn’t push the books on them too quick.

“But now that they know us and know what we bring to the table, they want to learn more and I think it’s going to be a great season.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

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