PAINT ROCK, TX-- Sweeping changes have taken place at Paint Rock with the departure of former Head Coach Jeff Corean, who took a job at Rochelle. New Head Coach Don Gibson is upbeat with his team, despite their 1-9 record a year ago.
"We're going to blow last year's record out of the water," Gibson said. "We've had nothing but hard work. I'm satisfied with what I've seen."
The 2016 Indian team was young and littered with injuries. "We had four pretty crucial injuries to starters in our first game," Gibson said. "This year, I just don't foresee any of that."
The six-man program of Paint Rock returns seven starters on both sides of the ball (four offense, three defense). The one starter who is going to be a major factor in where Paint Rock finishes the season is senior quarterback Jayton Combs. "He's really helped the guys come together," Gibson said.
In 2016, Combs threw for 730 yards and 10 touchdowns and is expected to better those numbers this season.
Helping out Combs will be a pair of running backs in Jaden Collins and Colton Packer. Last season, Packer carried the ball 650 yards for 12 scores and will be leaned on quite a bit for the Indians. However, Collins also brings a second weapon to the table, in his first year on varsity, with his agility, ball handling, speed and strength. "He won a lot of events last year for us in basketball and track," Gibson said."That footwork and ball handling skills will transfer right over to the football field."
Collins will also put said footwork to use as a defensive end and would be a sure bet to start for Paint Rock at that position this year.
It's not all about the older guys coming back for the Indians, however. Coach Gibson had high praise for the freshmen he has coming up. "Our freshmen, in junior high, had an 8-1 record and won our district outright last year," Gibson said. "They didn't have anybody that close to them, as far as competition."
Hopefully, for the Indians, that winning mentality from their freshmen carries over to the upperclassmen this year. With a tough schedule, the Indians will need it.
Paint Rock goes 2-8 in 2017 with an 0-3 district record. The Indians open up the 2017 season at home against Blackwell on September 1st at 7:30 p.m.