RANKIN, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Rankin won ten games in 2021 including a perfect district record. They had a regular season to remember, but a postseason to forget.

The Red Devils were held to under 40 points for the first time last season in an opening round 86-38 playoff loss to Westbrook, a loss that has established a familiar goal for the coaching staff.

“Whatever we’ve got to do to be playing our best football come November and December… that’s always a goal for us,” said head coach Garret Avalos who enters his fifth season at the helm in Rankin. “We know after last year, it doesn’t matter what your preseason record is. If you’re fortunate enough to get into the playoffs… there’s no there’s no more opportunity after you lose a football game.”

Most of the starters from last year return on both sides of the ball giving players plenty of confidence that the Red Devils have the recipe for success.

“This group is just special, talented, fast. Nothing like we’ve seen before,” said senior quarterback Blake Wise.

“We got speed. We got strength. We got everything that we possibly need,” said senior tight end Richie Escajeda.

Rankin’s biggest loss from graduation was do-it-all senior Braxxton Kirkland who led a physical ground attack in the trenches and earning all-state honors.

This year’s group has a different skill set and Rankin coaches will have to adjust to get the most out of their talent without losing an essential part of their identity.

“The speed and talent of some of these players we have this year that’s a little different,” said Avalos. “We’re going to have to open the playbook up and try to get some guys in space and still build on that mentality we had last year, being able to pound the football.”

The Red Devils’ ground-and-pound offense powered big scoring games including reaching at least 70 points six times.

With one of the toughest districts in 1A, repeating last year’s success won’t be easy. Rankin is one of three teams in their district, including Garden City and newcomer Borden County, who enter 2022 as a top-ten ranked team.

However, this year’s seniors are determined to empty the tank and finish their Rankin careers by going out swinging.

“If we don’t give up, just play our hardest and if we know we fought our hardest, then I want to have no regrets,” said Wise.

Escajeda echoed the same sentiment.

“I just don’t want to have any regrets,” he said. “At this point, we’re ready to go out there and show them who we really are.”

Rankin opens their 2022 schedule on the road against Balmorhea on August 26th.