INDOOR FOOTBALL: Thompson Jr., Brown take on leadership roles with Warbirds

West Texas Warbirds head coach Tate Smith knew he wanted to win as soon as he was hired to lead the team in April.

His previous indoor football stops with the Odessa Roughnecks and Rio Grande Valley Sol meant he had the necessary experience; he just needed to construct his roster.

Players like wide receiver Carlos Thompson, Jr. and defensive back Malik Brown were brought in to make an impact and it has worked for the Warbirds.

West Texas will host the Texas Jets in the regular season finale at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Ector County Coliseum looking to remain unbeaten before postseason play begins.

“You play to win the game,” Smith said. “When I sat down and talked to our owner and general manager, our ultimate goal was to win a championship.

“Right now, our goal is to go into Saturday to win the regular season championship, be undefeated in the regular season and go into the playoffs with the No. 1 seed.”

The Warbirds have gotten to a strong start in their first campaign by clinching home-field advantage with a 72-27 rout of the San Antonio Valor in their last game June 26.

The 72 points was a season-high for a West Texas team that has increased its point total in every game from the 38 scored in the opener against Amarillo.

Thompson and the West Texas receiving corps have played a key role in helping the offense find its rhythm.

He said he noticed the offense had a spark when the team was going through its first camp.

That combined with big plays from the defense had the receiver feeling confident that the team would be successful.

“I describe myself as the energy guy, I just bring energy to the whole team,” he said. “Whether it’s as a kick returner, punt returner, or offense and defense, I just try to bring energy and enthusiasm.”

Brown has helped the team find a shutdown identity on defense, stepping throughout the second half as the season moved forward.

He had one of his best games against San Antonio by finishing with three interceptions, including a 32-yard return for a touchdown to cap off the Warbirds’ victory.

He noticed the team had strong communication from the first day with the team, comparing it to what he saw when he played in the Indoor Football League. He added that he feels that team is ready to take the next step.

“The team is as competitive as an IFL team,” Brown said. “This is more so a family when it comes to being on the field and off the field.”

Smith said he has seen every player on the roster step up into a leadership role every week, giving the team a necessary boost while grasping the system he’s trying to implement.

That said, he still isn’t fully satisfied with the results.

“I think that we left a lot of points off the board and the fans love us scoring,” Smith said. “We obviously want to score more if we can, but at the same time I tell our guys, ‘As long as we’re outscoring the opponent, we’re doing our job.’”

When Smith was coaching with the Roughnecks, he said the team established an identity of having a tough atmosphere to play in.

He wants the Warbirds to enjoy that same atmosphere now.

“With the crowd noise and everything going into it, it’s an awesome atmosphere,” he said. “Our guys just feed off the energy that the crowd brings, we anticipate and we hope that more and more fans come out to the game.”

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