ACKERLY, Texas – The Sands Mustangs will have a tough challenge this season, needing to replace almost all of their key contributors from last year. Having witnessed a major turnaround recently, the Mustangs at least have seen the blueprint for success.

After recording just one win in 2018 and a winless campaign in 2019, Sands turned around its fortunes with a 7-4 (3-1) record last fall which also included a playoff appearance.

“Sometimes, life is 95 percent of what happens to you and 5 percent of how you react,” said head coach Steve Keith. “I think they understand what it takes now.”

The team will need to make some adjustments in the coming weeks. Sands is still working on filling out its depth chart and searching for the most optimal solutions..

“We’re really just trying more or less piece together where we think kids need to be early,” said Keith. “Of course, after two scrimmages they can be moved.”

Sands has placed an emphasis on accountability and self-policing. This year’s motto for the young Stangs: “It’s M.E.”

“That M-E stands for maximum effort, minimal excuses and mental endurance,” said Keith. “The only one that can control that is me.”

“Don’t give up. Go 110 percent all the time and just work hard even if you mess up,” said senior Kaleb King.

While many of the underclassmen will get their first varsity experience on the field, they had the benefit of learning from last year’s seniors as well as the Mustangs’ new leaders.

“Come out here, get out here on the football field, have fun. Practice like it’s a game,” sophomore Brady Spivey said about the advice he’s received. “He said we have to come out here with the heart and ready mind to play the game.”