With a year of familiarity in the city and the same coaching staff surrounding him, second-year Head Coach Shane Mobley is ready to break in the new turf at T.J. Mills Stadium.
Although soccer and the graduating class of 2017 have used the turf, there has yet to be a football game played on it.
The Tigers' initial taste of the new playing surface will come Friday night into Saturday when restrictions against padded practices are lifted and the team will work on tackling drills under the bright lights and loud speakers at the stadium.
“Our first official pad day will be Saturday starting at midnight, so we’ll get going at that time,” Coach Mobley noted. “We’ll probably go an hour; we want to keep them up late and get them up early the next morning just to show that dedication, that price you got to pay and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Although Mobley said he sees it as a simple tackling drill just to get out of the rhythm of the normal practice grind, the coach mentioned that after doing it last season he received plenty of inquiries from parents and staff alike asking if he'll do it again this year.
This 2018 version of the Sealy Tigers will have some holes to fill including two graduated seniors who will continue their athletic endeavors at Division 1 schools this fall, albeit not on the gridiron. Tyrek McNeese will continue to burn rubber on the track at Arizona State and Justin Eckhardt will take the mound for the Texas Longhorns baseball team.
However, the rising senior class is stacked with nearly 20 football players ready to give it their all in what will be the last time they'll strap up at T.J. Mills Stadium.
The offensive backfield will be returning to provide experience in moving the ball from the spread formation while the majority of the linebacking and defensive back corps also retain an understanding of the system to lead the other unit.
“I feel really, really good, it’s nice to look over and see the offense running plays already, at this point last year it was about the second week before got to this stuff,” Mobley mentioned during a quick water break during the first round of two-a-day practices Monday morning.
The Tigers were tabbed fourth, along with Bay City, in Texas High School Coaches Association’s Preseason Poll for District 4A Division I Region IV.
“It’s a tough district and it’s a big honor to be recognized in the state and the district we’re in,” Coach Mobley noted. “All that right there is 100 percent accountability to these kids and these coaches, you look out and none of these coaches are standing around, they’re all engaged.
“And then you got the kids, showing up this summer was really, really big,” Mobley continued. “They were getting hungry and although you start to see some dropped balls, that will come, hopefully within the next couple weeks we’ll get in and get those cobwebs knocked out.”
The biggest way this coaching staff is trying to de-web their team, is by instilling the mantra “Refuse to Lose.”
Mobley mentioned it is mainly derived from the fact that three out of their five losses last year, came with under a 10-point deficit in the heart of their district schedule.
“Too many games last year we lost by less than a touchdown and so it’s a mentality and we’ve got to get that mentality,” Coach stated simply. “Since we are ranked and we’re getting recognition there’s a price to pay so these younger kids need to see it and as coaches we need to stay on top of things, we need to keep the nail hammered in, if you will, we can’t let up on it.”
Mobley also noted that he will be naming different captains each week as he likes to reward different leaders after each weekly battle.
“Normally the quarterback will be the speaking captain each week then the other three will be rotated in week-to-week,” he said.
Whether somebody busted it all week at practice, or someone else put in their work in the weight room, Mobley said he feels the responsibility is shared between each Tiger to produce a quality product of football each week.
Coach Mobley knows a little bit about how to get the most out of his team as he was a part of two state championship trips in his final three years at Sweetwater High School before taking the reins in Sealy.
Those teams exemplified “exceptional teamwork, player unity, coaching chemistry, tireless faith and a strength to never give up,” he told The Rail Magazine in 2017.
Now, with a full season and off-season with the same coaching staff, Mobley enters this year with that much more coaching chemistry, maybe just enough to “Bring It Back.”