ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Winning has not always come easy for Odessa football. The program has won five games in the last three years and had its last winning season in 2009.

The team feels like this year will be different. The Bronchos went from winless in 2020 to picking up three wins in 2021. That taste of winning has propelled this team’s drive and confidence heading into this season.

“I feel like we’re very confident. We’ve been preparing this whole week. Last week we had a scrimmage and it felt pretty good. We know what we got and I feel like we know what we have to do,” senior quarterback Jaylien Jones said.

Dusty Ortiz took over for the Bronchos after their winless season and has helped usher in a new standard for the program.

“Last year we kind of got it off the ground a little bit, created some stir and buzz around the program. This year I want to take what happened last year and keep building off of it,” Ortiz said.

Odessa is picked to finish last in their district, which includes of local rivals Permian, Midland Legacy and Midland High. Despite that, the consensus goal for the Bronchos is a playoff appearance.

“They sleep on us, but we want to prove to them that we’re up there and they have to watch out for us,” senior defensive tackle Jamikel Cobb said.

Jaylien Jones steps in as a first-year starter under center. Ortiz feels the offense this season will be strong, but they have put a heavy focus on defense.

Odessa’s defense allowed their opponents to score an average 40 points last season, including the whopping 65 points given up to Legacy.

“We want to be the most improved defense in the state,” Ortiz said.

The Bronchos play a tough schedule, opening up at home against Lubbock Monterey in week one. The coveted Odessa-Permian rivalry game happens week seven, Oct. 7, to open up district play. They finish out the regular season at Legacy.

“We believe we’ve gotten a lot better. So on our end of the stick, we feel like we’re going to be able to win every game,” Ortiz said. “But on the outside looking in, we’re the underdogs and probably everybody’s homecoming game and that’s fine. That gives us a little motivation and fuels the fire that we already have.”

Odessa kicks off against Monterey Friday Aug. 26 at Ratliff at 7:00.