STANTON, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The Stanton Buffaloes were one of several Permian Basin teams to undergo a coaching change this past off-season. Stanton tabbed Billy Rushing, former offensive coordinator at Canyon, as its new head coach.

Rushing has made it a point to remind the current Stanton squad of the Buffaloes that have come before them, specifically in 1997 when Stanton won its only state championship in program history.

“There’s a state championship sign right down there from 1997 and we want to be part of those types of ideas,” Rushing said.

It will likely be a long road ahead before a state championship returns to Stanton. Rushing inherited a program that has not seen a winning season in a decade. But the reminders, he hopes, will inspire the Buffaloes to one day return to that championship stage.

“Are we in that realm right now?” Rushing asked. “I don’t know, but I do know that we’re going to fight that way. We’re going to fight like we’re state champions, we’re going to fight like that. And we’ll let all the other stuff come out as it will and we’re going to continue to build every single day.”

It is clear when listening to Rushing that his passion to bring success back to Stanton is pure and that mentality is being absorbed by the players.

“I like the energy the new coaches are putting out for us, I think it’s going to be better for us, I can’t wait to play with the team,” Bret Davis, senior receiver and safety, said.

The Buffaloes return a lot of their core players on either side of the ball, and now it’s about building and refining.

“We’ve got some good things happening that have already been here and so we’re just hoping to continue to grow,” Rushing said. “They were really young last year in a lot of spots so some sophomores and some guys that were young had some good time last year.”

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine predicted the Buffaloes would finish last in their district this season.

A clear first step for Rushing and company is a playoff berth, something Stanton has not achieved since the 2017 season. In order to do that, the Buffaloes have to power through a difficult District 4-3A DII, including a familiar rival just down I-20, Coahoma.

Stanton will have to wait until week nine of the season to face the Bulldogs, but the Buffaloes begin their season on the road an San Angelo Grape Creek, whom they beat mightily in the 2022 season opener.

Kickoff in San Angelo is at 7 p.m. on Aug. 25.