Brad Smiley knows the 2013 season will be a dogfight if they hope to make it to a conference bowl game this season.
Smiley in his seventh season as head coach of the Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals said 2012 was a “tough season” after finishing with only three wins overall.
The Cardinals were picked to finish first along with Blinn last year, but 2013 sees the Cardinals and Blinn in fifth and sixth place respectively in the coaches poll.
“A big difference for this year compared to last year is we have a lot of question marks up and down the line,” “Last year was very disappointing with the way the year finished out and everything that we felt like could go wrong went wrong.”
Even with the fifth place finish, the Cardinals received one first-place vote among the conference coaches. The coaches poll was released Thursday at SWJCFC Media Day, held at Garden Valley Golf Club.
Kilgore and Navarro finished tied for first in this year’s coaches poll, while NEO was picked to finish in third place.
The Golden Norseman are now led by former Trinity Valley offensive coordinator Sherard Poteete.
Smiley led his team remarks with praise for the hiring of Poteete.
“I wanted to give congratulations to Coach Patterson and Dr. (Jeffrey Hale) on the outstanding hire of Sherard Poteete,” Smiley said. “He will do an outstanding job for them and is a great addition to Miami.”
Smiley said the Cardinals will be very young this season as they have only one returning starter on the offensive line in sophomore Joel Valladeres.
Smiley has said he expects to see strong play from Reggie Harris (6-2, 310), Grant Shaw (6-6, 315), D’Andre Banks (6-3, 330) and Cameron Hussey (6-3, 275).
“This group is very similar to the defensive line — talented and unproven,” Smiley said in their media guide. “There are seven redshirt freshmen, so they gained valuable experience being here in the spring.”
Question marks will now be seen at wide receiver with the loss of Shakeem Jefferson — who is now at the University of Louisiana Monroe. Smiley is expecting to see big things from Trent Momom, Anterric Maxey and Franky Okafor. Smiley said he is expecting to see big things out of starting tight end John Thomas.
He also is expecting big things in the running game with the emergence of returning sophomore starter Thad Stewart (5-11, 200) and Josh Caldwell (5-9, 195).
The one battle that Smiley has seen big things from this summer is at quarterback with the return of Hunter McCoy (6-4, 210) and University of Texas-San Antonio transfer Ryan Polite (6-1, 220).
Smiley returns four starters on the defensive side of the ball in Tray Thornton at linebacker and Josh Scroggins, Jaylon Howard and Darrius White in the secondary.
“Defensive side of the ball we will be young on the interior front and we have one letterman back,” Smiley said. “No one is going to be scared of them up here and we are good at defensive ends and defensive backs.”
Another area where Smiley will be looking for experience is in the kicking game as punter Sam Fowler transferred to Angelo State over the summer.
He is hoping to see Waxahachie freshman Dylan McClain and Eustace freshman Kyle Purselley step up for the starting spot.
Smiley said with the enthusiasm of the players this off season, the coaching staff is excited for this season.
“The guys are chomping at the bit and the coaching staff is working hard right now to get them ready,” Smiley said.
The Cardinals also have two new head coaches in Clay Patterson and Jermial Ashley.
SWJCFC Coaches Poll
1. Kilgore (2) 51
1. Navarro (2) 51
3. NEO (1) 50
4. Tyler 47
5. TVCC (1) 41
6. Blinn 39
7. Cisco 36
10 points awarded for first-place vote, 9 for second, 8 for third, 7 for fourth, 6 for fifth, 5 for sixth and 4 for seventh. First place votes shown in parentheses.
2013 TVCC schedule
Aug. 24 Iowa Western 6 pm
Aug. 31 Coffeyville (Kan.) 7 pm
Sept. 7 OPEN
Sept. 14 at Kilgore* 7 pm
Sept. 21 Cisco* 7 pm
Sept. 28 at Navarro* 7 pm
Oct. 5 at NEO* 2 pm
Oct. 12 at Blinn* 3 pm
Oct. 19 Tyler* 3 pm
Oct. 26 Southeast Prep 3 pm
Nov. 2 SWJCFC semis TBA
Nov. 9 SWJCFC title game TBA
* SWJCFC game