First-year coach Alex Richters hopes to bring back winning ways to Prairiland.
Richters comes to Prairiland after two seasons as head coach at Marshall. He inherits a Patriots team that has gone 3-7 both of the past two seasons and has a lot of youth at the skill positions. Even so, there is hope that Prairiland will bounce back to its winning ways in 2013. On his coming to Prairiland, Richters said that he "truly believes that the Lord said move on...and led me to a perfect situation in Prairiland, with good kids and good academics and just a great situation overall."
The Patriots last had a winning season in 2009, when they had back-to-back seasons of nine wins and two losses under the coaching of Glen Schuelke. Richters hopes that trend will change this season, and thinks winning more in district play will help them succeed overall.
"Realignment hurts some teams more than others...everybody knows what this district is like," Richters said. "Our kids weren't used to that style of play, but they just need some time and affirmation before they really start to get it and win some more games."
Key players that could help him in this turnaround process include defensive back Jasper Goodson, running back Conner Skidmore, and offensive lineman Haskell Walker.
Though defense was a problem for the Patriots last season (29.0 points against per game, 175.0 yards against per game) Goodson, a senior member of the Patriots' squad, should prove useful to Richters over the season.
Quarterback Blake Upchurch gets the first shot at replacing three-year starter Tyler Patterson, who graduated from Prairiland. Junior linemen Walker and Alex Broomfield help give the Patriots some size up front for the next two years, and Skidmore is a senior running back who has played well for the Patriots.
Even so, youth makes up the vast majority of the roster. Nine players are seniors, and the other 17 varsity Patriots are juniors or sophomores. Richters will have his work cut out for him in this district, as the Patriots are picked by Dave Campbell's Texas Football to finish sixth in District 8-2A Division I, behind Hooks, Mount Vernon, Redwater, Daingerfield and New Boston. But Coach Richters is excited about his team, saying that "the young men we have in place are tremendous. We've got a lot of juniors on this squad, so I'll have two years to work with them and see them develop. I'm excited about their work ethic."
They face the roughest portion of their schedule in back-to-back-to-back games at Daingerfield, against Red Water and at New Boston from Oct. 18 through Nov. 1.