After one of the deepest playoff runs in recent memory last season, the Sealy Tigers baseball team will have a new manager in the dugout when spring rolls around.
Dane Bennett will take over the program after four years as an assistant coach at Sweetwater. He'll also teach world history at the high school.
Bennett played football in high school under Sealy's new athletic director and football coach Shane Mobley and was part of his football coaching staff the past four years.
"I was born and raised in Sweetwater and lucky enough to get hired on by coach Mobley at the school I graduated from," Bennett said. "I got to coach my brother for two years in football and baseball. And, I got to work under the coach that was my baseball head coach in high school."
With Sealy, Bennett will work with slot receivers as part of the football staff in addition to his first head coaching job as baseball coach in the spring.
"This will be my first heading coaching job," Bennett said. "I'm very excited about that."
Bennett has been working with the strength and conditioning program the past few weeks, but isn't able to get any of the baseball players on the field until February.
"I've been around the athletes getting ready for football," Bennett said. "I'm real excited and blessed for that opportunity."
When looking into the baseball position, Bennett was impressed by the run the Tigers made to the Class 4A regional semifinals.
"They definitely had a great, great run last year," Bennett said. "I've been pretty blessed as well in Sweetwater. Every year I was an assistant coach under Ron Herrera, he's one of the better high school coaches in baseball. We were fortunate to make the playoffs every year. I'm very excited for the opportunity this year and ready to get started."
After high school, Bennett played college baseball at McMurry.
"I graduated in 2009 and was fortunate enough to play baseball at McMurry," Bennett said. "I was a pitcher for two and a half years and decided to get my coaching and teaching degree. I've been at it ever since."
Bennett plans to maintain the winning tradition established by former head coach Brett Montier.
"I look forward to continuing the tradition that was already created with baseball," Bennett said. "I'll have the same assistant staff as last year. You can't really change too much in baseball. It's all about great pitching, defense and being able to put a few runs on the board. Hopefully we're able to do that."
With Sweetwater, Bennett coached the junior varsity baseball team and has worked with pitchers in the program.
"I called every pitch for the last four years on the varsity team," Bennett said. "I've worked with pitchers the last four years. I feel confident with pitchers and with the whole program. If it was to come down to one thing, I'm a pitcher through and through."
On the football staff, Bennett will be familiar with the schemes and philosophy Mobley is looking to implement in his first year leading the Tigers. Mobley's Sweetwater Mustangs reached the state finals in Class 4A Division II last year and they're looking to repeat that success in Sealy.
"I feel real comfortable under Mobley," Bennett said. "He was the defensive coordinator when I was in high school and left my junior year. I know him very well and feel very comfortable in his system."
Sealy struggled on the football field in 2016, going 3-7 a year after a 6-6 campaign that saw the Tigers reach the second round of the playoffs.
Bennett said the community can expect an exciting brand of football with an offense capable of putting points on the scoreboard in a hurry.
"We've been real successful the last four years in Sweetwater," Bennett said. "The community can expect to see a lot of points on the board and a well-coached team. Hopefully, everything falls our way and we get that first playoff run this year and create the Tigers tradition again."
During the strength and conditioning sessions, Bennett has gotten a glimpse at the talent on the roster for the Tigers and said the playoffs are a realistic possibility in the first season under Mobley.
"I haven't been around them as long as Mobley, but the few weeks I've been around them I can definitely tell that they've bought in to what we're trying to do and our system," Bennett said. "Everything starts up a week from Monday. I know as a coaching staff we're real excited and it seems like the players are exciting and that usually makes for success."
After growing up in a smaller community like Sweetwater, Bennett said he's comfortable in a place like Sealy and came away impressed when he first toured the area.
"My wife and I love Sealy," Bennett said. "As soon as we got here and got to drive around with Coach Mobley, we were sold on the town. It's very similar to Sweetwater as far as the town goes. It's a little bit smaller than Sweetwater, but it's exactly what I'm used to. It's nice and rural, not too much going on. It's a great small-town feel, which is what I'm all about. We're very excited and blessed to come and experience Sealy. We hope the community brings us in with open arms."