JACKSONVILLE, Texas (KETK) – They are looking forward to being home.
The Jacksonville Indians played all of last season away from the Tomato Bowl as the historic landmark was being remodeled.
But, they are also excited to see what this year’s team can do on the field.
They say this bunch is much more disciplined. Disappointed with a 3-7 2018 campaign and missing the playoffs, fifth-year head coach Wayne Coleman is asking for two simple, but highly valuable ingredients from his veterans.
“Everyone has a brighter personality. Last year’s group, they were good athletes and everything. But the first thing is leadership, second thing is effort. And if you have effort, the coach is gonna put you on the field no matter what,” said senior fullback and linebacker Aaron Richardson.
“Seniors sometimes don’t accept that role, and step up into it. And so, we’re trying to teach them that this is their football team. It’s not my football team. I’m just the coach. I’m just the guy driving the bus,” said Coleman.
“We had a lot of issues last year with somebody taking leadership in the team. I just want to take leadership and be accountable to everybody. Like I can be the one that you can count on,” said senior receiver Chris Carpenter.
The Indians will rely on Carpenter in many ways. The athletic Colorado commit accounted for 756 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns last season.
He’ll have a tag team partner on the other side in Jaylon Freeney, both whom are extremely confident in their new quarterback, junior Patrick Clater. Many folks at J-Ville are ecstatic about his development.
“We’re a dynamic duo,” said Carpenter referring to the receiving duo of Freeney and himself. “And I mean our quarterback that we have Patrick Clater, I mean he can ball. I mean just us on the field at the same time, it’s amazing,” explained Carpenter.
“The thing about Patrick besides being a good passer, which he is, he’s got a nice touch on the ball, he’s just a outstanding kid. Just a leader in his class. Very excited to have him as a junior, starting his first game. We’re gonna get a couple good years out of him,” said Coleman.
“Patrick, he’s coming very along. Fast, quick, he’s very smart in the books. So, that’s gonna work out on the field too,” said Richarson.
And by all means, The Tribe can’t wait to try step back into the newly upgraded, and improved, yet still historic Tomato Bowl.
“It’s a honor to have it re-done. And have that turf instead of going all the way to Tyler just to play. But it’s amazing having the environment that’s gonna happen here. It’s gonna be crazy,” said Carpenter.
“You gotta be careful. I mean you don’t want to go into that first game so excited, you know, so revved up that you forget your assignments, and stuff. So you’ve gotta. We’re gonna have to really work on controlling our emotions,” warned Coleman.
That first game for Jacksonville is against the mighty Carthage Bulldogs next Friday Aug. 30.
But they’ll give the Tomato Bowl a test run this Friday with a scrimmage against Bullard at 7:00 p.m.