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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Seminole Indians - Odessa American: Football

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 11:45 pm

SEMINOLE The more things change, the more they stay the same is a saying that applies to the Seminole football program entering the 2019 season.

Former head coach Kent Jackson is gone, announcing his retirement in May after a 33-year coaching career, including the last five in charge of the Indians.

Offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Ty Palmer takes over as the new man in charge and admits there is a little bit of a different feeling this year.

 “I played for him and coached with him seven of my nine years in coaching,” Palmer said. “As I start Year 10, it’s kind of weird starting the year with Kent not around.

“The biggest thing I learned from him is to take care of kids first. If you want to coach head versus heart, you better coach their heart.”

Palmer is focused on keeping things as close to business as usual as he can. The players have taken notice of that as well as they settle in with a familiar face.

“Not a whole lot has changed,” said senior lineman Jaxon Washington. “Coach Palmer has really picked up where Coach J left off. It’s been really easy and there hasn’t been a big transition.”   

That stability is what the Indians hope to lean on as the new season begins.

Seminole brings back 13 starters from a district title-winning team, including nine on the defensive side of the ball.

Washington, along with linebackers Kaedyn Wade and Dylan Stokes, are among the key returners for an experienced unit. Wade and Stokes will also see time as running backs on offense.

“I would definitely say our defense is going to be one of our strengths just like last year,” Stokes said.

“We have a lot of depth at every position and we have almost everyone returning on defense,” Washington said. “That’s going to really help us this year.”

There will be more of a transition on the offensive side of the ball. With just four starters returning, the Indians will look to keep the triple option running with some different personnel.

“There’s the old saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Palmer said. “Running the triple option and running downhill at people makes us different. That’s what we believe in and what we’re going to hang our hats on.”

Even as the system stays the same, the approach is where things start to differ. With several new starters on the offensive line, Palmer said that the unit will have to get up to speed quickly. And speed is where the head coach believes that he can use it to his advantage to make up for a lack of size.

“I think it’ll give us a chance to do some things and put some teams in conflict with trying to match up with us,” Palmer said. “I don’t think we’ve written the book on it in the past but we’ll have to get a little more creative. The kids understand that and they are having fun with it.”

The next step is to turn that approach into wins and a deep playoff run. Playing in a four-team district, the Indians are guaranteed to play in a postseason game. But after finishing up at 7-4 with a loss in the area round, the team has plenty of motivation to make a deeper run.

“Our team has a dog mentality and we’re just trying to keep that mindset in order to go far,” Washington said. “We didn’t go as far as we wanted to last year so we’re just trying to pick things up.”

“Our main goal is to play in December,” Stokes said. “We can do that by trying to win at least 12 games and just going as far as we can.”

Palmer is encouraged by that attitude and wants his team to bring that same effort and enthusiasm to everything they do.

As for his own goals, he’s aiming higher and drawing inspiration from a national championship winning coach.

“Your goal is always to get in the playoffs and see what happens,” Palmer said. “You know going in, we’re in.

“I took this from Dabo Swinney but I told our team that they don’t put championship rings on smooth hands. Let’s put some work in and see where that takes us.”

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

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