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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Crane Golden Cranes - Odessa American: Football

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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Crane Golden Cranes

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Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2019 11:45 pm

CRANE For the second time in three years, the Golden Cranes will be under the direction of a new head football coach, with Jeff Cordell hired in June to take over the program.

The players, however, aren’t worried about the amount of change in recent years.

“We’ve handled it well,” senior Brandon Cerna said. “Everyone on this team has gone through coaching changes. You can view it as a negative or a positive thing and we’re choosing to make it a positive thing.”

With the team coming off consecutive playoff appearances as well as the team’s state performance in 7-on-7 this summer, Cordell has high expectations with his new team.

“There’s a lot for this team to be excited about,” Cordell said. “This team is coming off a state runner-up finish in the seven-on-seven tournament during the summer. We came up eight points shy in that one so that excitement has carried over into this season.

“It’s a new system. We have a new staff on both sides of the ball. But we have great kids who had a great few days and we’ve had a great start to this year’s football campaign.”

The Golden Cranes advanced all the way to the Texas State 7-on-7 Division III championship game against the Poth Pirates  in June in College Station.

Cordell, who comes in after two years as the head coach in Sonora, is looking to change things up.

Previously, the Golden Cranes were more of a run-oriented team but Cordell is looking to air it out more on offense.

“It’s been a tough transition because coming in with new terminology; we have a new offensive system and defensive systems,” Cordell said. “Coach Rodman did a great job and what he had installed.

“But this year, we’re looking at more of an air-raid oriented. But we’re excited about the young men that have that have donned the purple and gold and have shown their ability to pick up this new terminology and new system. It’s surprising how quickly they’re picking up on everything.”

With the changes taking place, the depth chart is still a fluid situation.

“Right now, we don’t know where everyone is,” Cordell said. “They’re all brand new and have all started at the bottom level.

“When we put up the depth chart, they were all put up alphabetically because our staff doesn’t really know anybody. So they have to prove themselves. We’re changing the depth chart on a daily basis.”

But experience on the team doesn’t seem to be an area of concern.

“Our strength for our team is going to be our leadership,” Cordell said. “We have a lot of good senior players who are very athletic and they understand the leadership role.

“Everywhere I’ve been, the success that we’ve had is predicated on the type of leadership that we’ve had from our senior class. These guys are pretty athletic.”

Getting used to the new system, however, might take some time.

“The weakness for us right now is that we don’t know the system and it’s going to take us a bit of time to get what we want installed before the first game of the season against Iraan,” Cordell said.

The Golden Cranes are coming off an 8-4 overall record last year that included a run to the area round of the state playoffs in Class 3A Division II. Crane defeated Coahoma 28-7 in bi-district at home before losing to Tulia 43-21.

Cerna and his teammates are confident they can make it further in the playoffs.

“It’s already pretty exciting,” Cerna said. “Everybody’s hungry. Everybody’s competing.

“We’ve been working hard all day. We’re having fun. We’re making each other better. We’re all wound up.”

Cerna himself is coming off an explosive year, putting up 200 carries for 1,777 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns on offense with 70 tackles, one sack, three interceptions on defense, earning the District 1-3A Division II MVP.

He’ll look to try and be another focal point for Crane in his senior season.

“My senior year has come fast but it’s been a good experience,” Cerna said. “We’ve had good coaching over the years. This season is what I’ve been waiting for. We have a lot of talent and a lot of great players.”

The coaches may be different once again, but the goals remain the same for the Golden Cranes.

“Everyone is playing for everyone on each snap,” Cerna said. “If we execute and do what we’re taught at practice each day, we’ll come out on top in the end.”

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAMichaelba


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