The Jim Ned Indians are the defending Class 3A state champions.
Even though a good chunk of the 2020 state title team is back this year, don’t try to talk to the 2021 Jim Ned Indians about last year.
For the new team, that was ages ago, and the Indians are trying to move on.
It’s not that they aren’t proud of the school’s first state football championship.
They don’t believe they are finished winning.
Head coach Matt Fanning told his players at practice, “You show up to get better, to improve ourselves. We learn how to become men.”
Xavier Wishert said, “We are trying to not get carried away with the fact that we won a state championship and to take every day like we haven’t won anything because I’m not satisfied with that. I want another one.”
Fanning added, “It happened. We can’t ignore that. We are trying to focus on making ourselves better, right now. That’s what we are trying to preach to our kids. Hopefully, we embody that, and it’s a good year.”
Fanning has seven starters back on offense and seven back on defense.
So, there is lots of experience to draw from this year.
There are some that weren’t a part of the title run. That’s where the captians come in to play.
“That is key” Fanning said. “They take over that leadership role, and they are able to pass on some of that knowledge about the way we do things and pass that mindset down to our younger guys that come up to help us out. They are ready to go.”
The captains and returners are the leaders. They have different personalities and different styles, but Xavier Wishert believes that’s a good thing.
Wishert said, “It helps when you are trying to lead out here because some people won’t listen to me, but some people will listen to this other guy. It helps. It shows our leadership. It shows our bond. It shows our friendship.”
Another state championship is the obvious goal, but just like every other year, winning starts with the little things.
Matt Fanning said, “We focus on the little things. We focus on ourselves, and we don’t get to far ahead of ourselves. Let’s just keep improving.”
The only game the Indians lost in 2020 was to Ballinger in the opener.
They get a chance to avenge that one in this year’s opener on August 27.