GRUVER, Texas (KFDA) - Gruver is no stranger to success, but a question remains, can the Greyhounds remain the powerhouse that they are without star players like Oklahoma Sooner Jalin Conyers, and at the same time, find replacements who can produce numbers like him.
“Well you don’t, and the deal is, every year, kids are going to graduate, and the train is gonna keep going. It’s just the next guy that is going to get on it,” Gruver first-year Head Coach Lee Brandon said. “That jersey doesn’t change, that logo doesn’t change, you know, that’s still there. These kids have that type of mentality, they’re ready, they’re excited about it, and they know they have to replace them. That kind of fuels them a little bit.”
Being a new head coach at Gruver and losing a guy like Conyers though doesn’t lessen the goal and expectation for 2020.
“I think our expectations are the same every year,” Brandon said. “We wanna put the best product out on the field and our kids are bought and sold into that. I think that’s evident with the success that Gruver has had the last four or five years. That’s our goal, our expectation is to compete and put the best product out on the field.”
If there is one thing that Brandon wants his team to understand whether its’s from him, or Gruver’s history, it’s that confidence is key.
“Confidence is always a huge factor, and it kind of goes back,” Brandon said. “These kids have seen the success. These kids were on JV, a lot of them were in 2018 when Gruver made it to the State Finals. Last year they went to the Quarterfinals, they know what it is, it’s just a matter of believing that they can be the next guy to take the torch and carry it on.”
That’s where Brandon’s seniors come into play.
“Over the years since my sophomore year, we made it to state, I mean it was a big jump for me,” Gruver senior linebacker Rodolfo Acosta said. “I didn’t know, it was crazy, but I feel like over the years I got a lot of practice. We’re ready, as a senior, leading the younger kids, teaching them, a lot of them are young, make them step up.”
“Really, since we have a young team, we have a lot of doubters here,” Gruver senior defensive lineman Juan Gaspar said. “But in this little team right here, we’re pretty confident that we’re gonna be really good.”
That confidence also comes from practicing the fundamentals and getting as many reps in as possible before the season starts.
“It;s important because it’s a new system and a new coach,” Gaspar said. “I believe the more we practice, the better we’ll get, and we’ll be mentally stronger in the future.”
The Greyhounds kick off their season against Texhoma next Friday on the road. You can follow along with Gruver’s season on NewsChannel 10 Sports and on The Wrap Up.