If you attended a Coahoma football game last fall, you could see that there was a noticeable difference in the style of defense that the Bulldogs play compared to years past. After spending a decade-and-a-half as a position coach on the defensive side of the ball at Big Spring High School, Mitchell Woodard took over as the Bulldogs defensive coordinator last year.
What did Woodard think of his first year leading a defense?
“I enjoyed it. It was great,” he said. “We has some kids that worked hard and were leading the system that I was bringing in. It was a change from what they had been doing but those kids bought in and worked hard and we had some success at it.”
Woodard got his start in coaching at Dalhart High School almost 30 years ago. Following his one year there, Woodard would move on to coach at Monahans for the next 10 years. After his decade with the Loboes, Woodard decided to move to Big Spring and became a football assistant coach and one of the best track and field coaches in the area while with the Steers.
Coahoma’s Chris Joslin and Woodard have been friends for many years. So, when Joslin took over the head coaching job at Coahoma after his state championship-season at Rockdale, he wanted Woodard to come and be the defensive coordinator.
Woodard initially declined.
“When he first got the job at Coahoma he called me and offered me his defensive coordinator position,” Woodard said. “I turned him down because I didn’t think it would be a good look for him to go in and start firing people that had been there and the defensive coordinator was a good guy.”
Now, Woodard is entering his second year as the defensive coordinator and the Bulldogs are becoming a feared team to face on Friday night’s. After years of leading position groups at Big Spring, Woodard is now leading his own entire defense and is off to a tremendous start.
The Bulldogs made great strides on the defensive side of the ball in Woodard’s first year in Coahoma. After years of underwhelming results on Friday night’s, the Bulldogs put together one of their best seasons of the century. Coahoma finished the year with a 9-4 record after years of mediocrity and below average play.
Head Coach Chris Joslin is heading into his third year as athletic director and head football coach and Woodard will be heading into Year Two on Joslin’s coaching staff. The duo has already brought a new defensive scheme to the Bulldogs and will continue to make adjustments to prepare for the upcoming season.
“We were a 3-3 Stack (defense) for a few seasons before Woodard got here and my first season,” Joslin said. “When he got here I really wanted to move to a 3-4 and that’s what he’s doing. We’ve been really close friends for a long time so when he came over we finally made that switch to a 3-4.”
Coahoma will be losing star players such as Keegan Dobbs, Gaige Hill, and Jonathon and Zack Schneider on the defensive side of the ball. With such a talented group of seniors set to graduate, Woodard has his eyes set on the next wave of defensive playmakers to suit up in the red and white.
Junior Colin Daniels was tied for the team lead in sacks and should also make a big impact during this upcoming season. While the outside observer might believe that the Bulldogs are entering a rebuilding phase, they could not be farther from the truth. The Bulldogs are not rebuilding, they are retooling and building their schemes to best fit the talent they have on the field.
“We still have some guys,” Woodard said. “We have some outside linebackers that are pretty good and we have a few key secondary guys that will be coming back.”
Woodard mentioned Daniels and Patrick Gutierrez as focal points of his attacking style of defense. Woodard likes to bring the pressure to the opposing offense and will use those two players to lead his system. This allows the Bulldogs defense to go on the offensive and not allow the opposing team’s offense to dictate the speed of the game. The linebackers play a crucial part in the success of the 3-4 Coahoma defense with all four of them having unique roles and the versatility to move around the second level of the defense.
Woodard does not lack for confidence and wants his defense to be one of the most dominant and well-respected units in all of West Texas.
“Personally, I’d like to shut every team out,” Woodard said.
Football season is fast approaching and Coahoma will be ready to go when it is time for the first kickoff of fall. Woodard has changed the style of Coahoma’s defense into a much more aggressive and versatile scheme and more wrinkles will be added to the playbook this summer.
Everyone around Coahoma can rest assured that the Bulldogs defense will continue to play fast and physical.
“We just want to play team defense, be where you’re supposed to be and be good tacklers,” Woodard said.
“The key to football is tackling.”
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com or call 432-263-7331.