Tough District Schedule Awaits Jacksonville After Indians’ 4-1 Start to Season
Everyone knows winning is the ultimate goal, and it's no easy feat to start 4-1 in high school football in East Texas. Jacksonville finds itself in that position right now, but Wayne Coleman and the Indians know the fun's just now getting started.
"We're happy with 4-1, of course, but we know it doesn't mean anything right now," Coleman said on Tuesday. "Everybody's 0-0 now. We know what's ahead of us in our district and all those guys are really good. We're about to play the hardest part of our schedule."
Now in his third year as Jacksonville's head coach, Coleman continues to work to build a program that he helped oversee as an assistant under Danny Long in the 1990s and early 2000s. The Indians' 6-5 record in 2016 was the program's best since 2010, and now they're looking to take that a step further.
Coleman, who won a state championship as an assistant at Gilmer in 2014, knows what it takes to construct a program and win the big games. It all starts with "Football IQ," as he calls it, and he's working to create a culture of high Football IQ throughout Jacksonville's program, from varsity down to middle school.
"You have to teach these kids every single week. Sometimes you see mistakes you wouldn't think you would see after five weeks, but you just have to keep grinding it out and not take anything for granted," Coleman said. "Kids these days don't watch the game on TV as much as they did in the past. There are too many other things to do on the weekends. But we show them a lot of situational football. We have to teach them a lot of different things, but at the end of the day I feel like we accomplished something."
After a bye this week, Jacksonville takes on a District 17-5A schedule that includes Corsicana, Whitehouse, Ennis, Lindale and Nacogdoches, with Corsicana and Lindale being the league's two teams to beat the Indians in 2016. A playoff win this year would be the Indians' first since 2004.
"We have to be the team that doesn't beat ourselves," Coleman said. "If you can be the team on the field that makes the fewest mistakes, you're a hard team to beat. It's such a physical bunch of teams in this district. It's so important to have depth, and that's why we practice all of our kids both ways. You have to develop depth and have kids who can step up to play when they need to."
This year is Coleman's first with Dontrail Sessions at quarterback after former District MVP Cameron High graduated. Sessions has stepped up to the challenge, however, with 695 yards and eight touchdowns to only one interception so far this season. His average completion is an attention-grabbing 23.8 yards.
"Dontrail is a great deep ball thrower. His QB rating is off the charts because he hits so many big plays and throws very few interceptions," Coleman said. "We have to keep making those explosive plays and taking care of the ball. It's hard to sustain a 12-play drive against that much speed on the defensive side of the ball in our district, so it's very important to hit the big plays when you can."