Odessa, TX – After making their franchise debut last weekend in Amarillo, the West Texas Warbirds turn their focus to Saturday’s home opener at the Ector County Coliseum.
After the 38-28 season opening victory, 432 Sports talked with head coach Tate Smith about the win. “I thought overall we played really well. There is definitely a bunch of things we need to fix in all three phases of the game. I thought Daniel [Smith] handled the game really well at quarterback with moving in the pocket and making plays. Tim [Whitfield] had a big night coming out of the backfield with big plays throughout the game.”
Coach Smith also gave his defense some love. “The Defense came up big several times throughout the game with a big goal line stand early in the game. We did a great job putting pressure on their QB and covering on the back end. Overall, I’m happy with our performance but not satisfied. We need to be able to learn from our mistakes off of film and continue to get better each week.”
Smith is no stranger to Odessa. As a 2007 graduate, he was the Mojo starting quarterback his junior and senior seasons. Permian made it to the post-season state playoffs both of those years. After throwing for 1,000 yards to receivers Melvis Pride and Bront Bird, Smith went on to play at New Mexico and UT-El Paso. He launched his coaching career as a staff member with the West Texas Roughnecks and Rio Grande Valley Sol in the realm of indoor/arena ball. Smith has also coached high school football at Edinburg, Ballinger, and currently at Odessa High.
The Odessa native will have Gabe Martinez assisting with the offensive unit, while Jermaine “Spank” Blakely will handle the defensive unit. Both bring quite a bit of experience to the Warbirds’ staff. Martinez was a lineman in high school at Lubbock-Cooper and continued on to play at Texas Tech. His coaching experience is based heavily in arena football, being a member of the coaching staffs of the Texas Tornadoes, Lubbock Liberty Eagles, and our own West Texas Drillers.
After Stillman College, Blakely played for two-time indoor champion Lakeland Thunderbolts, Florence Phantoms, Hunnington Heros, and Abilene Bombers. No stranger to the area, ‘Spank’ busted many a head at the coliseum as a West Texas Roughneck lineman as well. He has since hung up the cleats and is now contributing that experience and expertise through coaching with the Texas Revolution, Mississippi Raiders, and his return to the coliseum aboard the Warbirds coaching staff.
The Warbirds team is loaded with talent. Whitfield, an All-American running back, played at Langston University and has already racked up a pair of touchdowns from last week’s debut. He will be joined in the backfield by standout Josh Robinson. The 2015 sixth-round pick of NFL’s Indianapolis Colts had 1,000-yard rushing season his junior year at Mississippi State. Robinson also led his Louisiana high school team to a state championship.
West Texas recently added ‘Last Chance U’ Season 3 receiver Carlos Thompson to the receiving corp. After a stint at Texas Tech in 2013, Thompson played at Independence Community College and then signed with Missouri Western State, where he made his mark and gained more notoriety. James Cash, a speedster from Florida A&M, will line up as a second option for Smith and is also capable of breaking big gainers from catch-and-run opportunities.
The Warbirds got off to a positive start in the trip to Amarillo and will now make their inaugural Lone Star series home appearance on Saturday at the Ector County Coliseum. The Amarillo Venom look to return the favor of picking up a road win in a rematch slated for 7:00 p.m. The coliseum will also be sporting the team’s red and blue colors. The facility’s royal blue seats are surrounding a Warbird Red playing surface, instead of the traditional green turf.