Every sports writer in the area will tell you that the Comanche Indians are heading toward a playoff game next week; they’ll give you lots of interesting stats, etc. but I wanted to bring you something a bit more personal. This week I sat down with the Indian head coach to get a little insight into this year’s program as a whole.
Coach Stephen Hermesmeyer is in his 4th season as head coach of the Comanche Indians, where he has continued to make huge strides at turning the program in the right direction, both on and off of the field.
Amazingly, three out of the four seasons, Coach Herm has taken the Indians into the playoffs, and that first season, many Indian fans will remember that it was a touchdown called back on a penalty in Breck that cost the Indians a playoff seat that year…not a bad record for coach, not bad at all. Of course, Herm will be the first to tell you that he has put together an amazing team of coaches who also can take a lot of credit for the Indians’ success.
“This is the first bunch of kids that I have coached all the way though high school. They were freshmen when I came to Comanche, and that makes a big difference too. They started with me, and they understand and buy into our program. That is huge.”
Hermesmeyer went on to say many of the same things that senior Michael Garcia told us last week.
“This group of varsity players is probably chemistry wise as close a group as I have had. They all get along with no issues between them. For the first time our non-starter role players truly understand that their role is just as important as the roles of those on the field. The senior are extremely unselfish kids.”
Of course, you have to remember that this coaching staff is also very concerned with life off of the field, and that gives them a tremendous amount of credibility with their players.
“We treat the kids right, push them academically, and we try to prepare them for life after football through the life lessons of football.”
And then, I had to mention the loss (by one TD) to West because it was a tremendous loss, changing the course of our playoff season.
“The West loss was big, but I always tell the kids that there are also things to be learned from losing, and we will persevere through it just like we have to do in life when things do not go our way or when we make mistakes that cost us. It was a very close game; we just didn’t make the plays when we had the chance to make them, but just as we do in life, we take it, and we move on.”
So the Indians will be playing Rockdale for a repeat of last year. The game will be held in Marble Falls, and the game plan is, of course, for the outcome to be different this time.
“Each of us will be traveling right at 100 miles so that is very fair. Last year, we were the team that had to drive the longest distance.”
Rockdale came in second, behind Cameron Yoe in its district. Of course, Yoe is a three-peater in state football championships and hoping to make this year the quad. Comanche would like to halt that state run.
“Rockdale has a great team, a very solid team, and we have to go in and play great football from the start. They have their 6’7” receiver back again; however, they have had to fill in some holes this year just like we have had to do. Hopefully, we have learned some things from last year’s game, and we have gotten stronger this year. We just have to come up with ways to get past them and into the next game.
“When I look at how we started last year’s playoff game compared to how nervously we started the playoffs the year before, I know that post-season play experience is definitely paying off.”
And I have to agree. I will never forget sending that team off and into a game that we should have won fairly easily. I knew from the wide eyes that I saw on players as they headed out of town that the nerves had taken hold. This made me ask Coach Herm if he even thought the sendoffs were a good idea.
“I think the sendoff is more important for our young kids than our actual players. It sets an example, and it makes them want to be on a bus with a fire truck and a police car escort out of town. That builds tradition. The number one reason I took this job was that it felt like the thing to do. The second reason was because everyone told me not to, that there was no winning tradition in Comanche. I believed that we could change that. Now, we just need to bring back a gold football for them.”
I suppose the thing Rickey and I admire most about this coaching staff is that every coach seems to understand that it’s not always just about what’s on the field. Comanche is a small town, a relatively low income town, and we have many kids who face lots of life issues every single day. Believe it or not, sometimes football is not their biggest challenge. We fans can easily forget that in the heat of the Friday night lights; thankfully, our coaches take the time to get to know their players and somehow, they usually find a way to help their kids make it all work.
And then, I asked Herm to leave me with a closing. He did, and it was not exactly what I expected.
“I have one wish,” he began. “I’ve been here four years, and I haven’t really asked the fan base for one thing but this year, I’d like to see the stands full of black and gold, people up on their feet and making as much noise as possible. It would be so cool to see a wall of black and gold supporting these young men who have worked so hard for so long. Their pay day will be November 13 at 7:30 in Marble Falls, and it would mean so much to them to see a town full of supporting fans.”
Doesn’t seem like to much to ask to me.