ACKERLY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The Sands Mustangs are turning the page in 2022.

The program ascends to Division 1 where they find themselves in a district with three of the top-ten ranked six-man teams in Texas.

To begin this new era of higher-level district play, Sands hired first-year head coach Tye Keith who believes quality opponents will make the mustangs better.

“Iron sharpens iron. I believe that,” said Keith who spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Sterling City. “We’re going to be ready to go by district time and hopefully, get in there and go compete with those guys and then we’ll see what happens.”

“We’re not really intimidated just because they’re good,” said senior Chuy Porras about the other teams in the Mustangs’ district. “I mean, they’re ranked good, but we’re not intimidated.”

Keith takes over a team with only 20 players between JV and varsity, but one who made the playoffs in Division 2 last year with a winning district record. After going 2-1 in district, the Mustangs made the playoffs only to lose to Anton in the first round 72-30.

He has already made an impression on the seniors who believe he’s the coach to make the program better by doing it his way.

“He’s really loud, he yells. Even when he tries to normal talk, he hypes everybody up,” said Porras who plays fullback and defensive end.

“He pushes us way harder than I’ve ever been pushed and our workouts have been way harder,” said senior quarterback Jaden Flentge. “I like him a lot. I think he’ll teach us some good stuff throughout the year.”

If the Mustangs are going to make any noise this year, they’ll need to lean on their biggest strength: running the ball.

An experienced line and a stable of backs has Sands believing they got a shot every week.

“We’ve got some really good running backs. We got Michael Diaz, Chuy Porras, Xavier Cisneros and Anthony Haston. And now our line is steadily improved,” said Keith.

“My goal is, is that we were a whole lot better football team by the end of the year than we were at the beginning of the year. I’m ready to see our development as the season goes.”

The Mustangs open their 2022 season at home against Hermleigh on Aug. 26th.