INDOOR FOOTBALL: Smith tabbed as new head coach for West Texas Warbirds

When the West Texas Warbirds needed a new head coach, assistant general manager Gus Quezada knew exactly who to call.

After some brief deliberation with general manager Leif Kertis, Quezada turned to Permian graduate Tate Smith.

Quezada has known and worked with Smith for years, dating back to the latter’s days as the starting quarterback at Permian.

Smith was officially introduced as the Warbirds new head coach at a press conference Monday at the Ector County Coliseum.

He’ll take over a coaching staff that includes offensive coordinator Gabe Martinez and defensive coordinator Brandon Sesay.

Smith said getting a chance to coach another indoor football team in West Texas is special. He previously spent time on the coaching staffs of the West Texas Roughnecks and West Texas Wildcatters.

“When you put that symbol or that logo on your chest or jersey, it’s West Texas,” Smith said. “It means a lot for the football nation out here.”

The Warbirds are set to start their inaugural season in June. The team was originally set to begin play last year, but those plans fell through due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith will join the team with a wide range of coaching experience under his belt.

In 2015, he was the associate head coach and offensive coordinator of the X-League’s Rio Grande Valley Sol.

He also spent time in the high school ranks, making stops at Greenwood, Edinburgh and Ballinger and was most recently the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at Odessa High.

He believes that experience can be beneficial as he tries to help his new players take the next step in their development.

“The main thing is, we want to bring people in that we can trust, that we can help promote to move up to the next level,” Smith said. “It’s something that we have to do in order for them to trust us as a coaching staff.”

Smith was Permian’s starting quarterback for two years (2005, 2006) before going on to play at Cisco Junior College, the University of New Mexico and UTEP.

Before Smith’s hiring, the Warbirds planned to take a “coaching by committee” approach to the 2021 season. Martinez would serve as the team’s director of scouting and assistant coach, with Sesay running the defense.

Calvin Knighten was set to run the offense.

Things changed when the front office wanted one person to make the important team decisions, while the coordinators focused on their aspects of the game.

“It’s a chess game,” Quezada said. “Having the one guy to make that final decision helps us out at the end.”

Smith and the Warbirds will open their season at home against the Amarillo Venom at 7 p.m. on June 12. The team will play an independent schedule this season before joining a new league next year.

That league will be comprised of teams from Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The new head coach said he’s ready to see his team take the field.

“I feel really confident, that was part of the reason why I took the job,” Smith said. “I really feel confident that, with the talent that we have coming in, we as a coaching staff can get the job done.”

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