Seminole endured four losses in the 2016 regular season, dropping one contest to eventual district champion Monahans as well. The Indians gained momentum in the postseason however, winning three playoff games (including enacting revenge against the Monahans Loboes), ending the run with a tough loss to state finalist Sweetwater.
The Indians reloaded for the 2017 season, viewed as one of the favorites to compete for 2-4A DII and Region I supremacy. However 2017 didn’t start as the Indians would have liked, dropping the contest against Lubbock High in overtime.
“There were a lot of things that went into that,” said Seminole coach Kent Jackson, in his 23rd season as a head coach. “Our second scrimmage was cancelled unexpectedly, so we went into that game still finding some things out about ourselves.”
The team sought a rebound from the tough setback, by blocking out outside noise according to Jackson.
“It was a good wake up call for us, probably the biggest blessing in disguise. Everyone went back to work, nobody panicked, everyone stopped reading the paper. We’ve been chipping away at it.”
Since that loss, Seminole has been on a tear in West Texas, winning all remaining regular season games behind an offense averaging 37.7 points per game. The unit is led by a powerful run game, namely Alex Menchaca and Cade Barnard — Menchaca has recorded 289 yards on 50 carries while Barnard has accumulated a whopping 786 yards on 128 carries, each with 10 touchdowns.
“We keep swinging the axe and trying to bust the rock,” said the coach. “We operate on running back and quarterback by committee, and that’s the way we like it. We don’t have a real flashy offense, but we try to control the clock and move the ball.”
The Indians defensive unit has performed just as well, allowing an average of 12.1 points per game with a pair of shutouts. According to Jackson, the unit is performing as well as was expected.
“They were the most experienced side of the ball coming in; a lot of those guys got more playing time last year with four playoff games. We had hoped to lean on them until the offense found its way, and that’s what’s been happening. The offense has gotten better over time, but the defense has been consistent. They have that bend-but-don’t-break mentality.”
District play was a challenge for Seminole, dropping three games but earning a postseason berth nonetheless. Three of the four playoff teams in 2-4A DII played multiple rounds in 2016, and the group of teams as a whole returned plenty of starters to keep the intensity up for 2017.
“It’s rock solid, just like we knew it would be,” said Jackson. “Anybody in district would probably beat anyone on any given night. We go into it knowing it’ll be a fight every night. Everybody out here takes a lot of pride in what they do.”
The Indians however have risen to the top, returning the favor to the teams who prevailed last season by topping Monahans 30-13, Midland Greenwood 35-32, and last week’s rousing 28-27 overtime win in Sweetwater.
“I’m proud of the way our kids held in there,” beamed the coach. “They continued to believe in each other, and played good defense, and we eventually worked our way back into it. My opinion, Sweetwater is one of the toughest places in Texas to win a football game, but we did.”
Seminole closed the regular season last week with a 41-7 win against Fort Stockton, a team continuing to improve according to Jackson before the contest.
“They’ve been in every game they’ve played and done good things against everybody. They’ve had injury issues that kept them from being consistent in places, but we know they’ll bring their best.”
Looking ahead to the postseason isn’t something Jackson concerns himself with, believing in taking things one practice, one game at a time.
“I don’t pay any attention to it,” he said. “We’ve been dialed in and focused on what we’ve been doing. I know there’s some good football being played, but I don’t spend any time worrying about anyone except us.”
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