Odessa finished 2-8 last season in head coach Mark Thomas’ first season. There are always lumps that come with rebuilding a program, and the Bulldogs absorbed many of them.
“Last year we only had two seniors on our team. This year we have 11. That right there has made us a little bit better from last year already,” Thomas said. “Last year we had five freshmen start five or more games at the varsity level. We have most of our players returning, and a lot of returning letter winners and starters, so that’s helping us quite a bit.”
Some of Odessa’s returning pieces include senior quarterback and defensive back Jake Bartow, senior lineman Cole Stodghill and senior wide recever and defensive back Calieb Bennett.
A year in the program has brought clarity to Thomas’ schemes on both sides of the ball. The next step is figuring out a way to win games.
“That’s still an ongoing process. Our football program has been a little bit down the last several years. That’s why I’m here. I’m trying to rectify it,” Thomas said. “The position wouldn’t have opened up had it not been in that situation. Our kids have not experienced success. They have to learn how to win and what it takes to win. We’re making progress in that direction and hopefully we can take a big step forward.”
Thomas’ plan for success is a simple one. If the Bulldogs can execute, hopefully they’ll have a chance to win on a weekly basis.
“We want to hang our hat on defense and be solid in the kicking game. Offensively, we want to be a team that takes care of the football and not turn it over,” Thomas said. “Our defense has to play well enough to keep the game close so we have a chance to win. That’s a common recipe in the game now and in our situation that’s the direction we’re trying to go.”