The end of practice Aug. 4 wasn’t what the Smoking For Jesus Ministry School’s football staff wanted to see. So new offensive coordinator Russ Roberts asked the players to get back in their formations to run one more play.
With the intensity kicked up, the Eagles displayed what the coaches wanted: movements where every player knew where to go and who to block, a toss to the running back that hit him in stride and allowed him to quickly read where to go, and a defense that fought through the blocks and put itself in a position to make a play.
“They’re ready,” head coach Charles Frazier, Sr. said. “We’re ready to go.”
And it’s showed ever since all 15 Eagles began working out together May 31, the day after Memorial Day, and have reaped the rewards. The biggest accomplishment was winning the San Marcos Academy 6-on-6 tournament June 18 thanks to earning a 6-1 record.
Frazier recalled asking the athletes how bad they wanted to win a third consecutive state title and challenged them to prove it to him – by showing their willingness to work in triple digit heat weeks before summer strength-and-conditioning programs across the state had yet to start. He noted the players weren’t exactly eager to work that hard so early in the summer. But the coach promised if they did the work, it would pay off with victories, which is what happened during the 6-on-6 contests.
“Go show me how bad you want it,” the coach said. “They were here, all of them. During 6-on-6, we dominated. We beat every team there. They weren’t huffing and puffing; they were used to the heat.”
Of the 15 players, 13 are returners including seniors Jonathan Frazier, Connor Kitchens and Isaac Legier and sophomore Myron Glaspie. Smoking for Jesus’ two state titles came from being members of the Texas Christian Athletic Association. But school officials made the decision towards the end of the 2021-22 school year to change leagues. The Eagles are now members of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations.
To better help the team, Frazier added Roberts, a veteran who coached 11-man football across the state in Texas public schools. When he retired, he took over the Faith Academy of Marble Falls football program as its 11-man and six-man head coach. With Boo Maxwell as the defensive coordinator, Frazier is now a head coach who can manage the team and analyze what’s happening on the field in a way former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson used to. Johnson could look at the clock and see his personnel and tell his coordinators what he wanted to see on the field. If the Cowboys were in the lead and needed to a long drive to wear out the opponent’s defense, Johnson was known to tell his offensive coordinator he wanted a heavy dose of the run game and give the coordinator the freedom to continue to call the plays.
Roberts’ wealth of experience and ability to call the right play that allows the athletes’ natural talents to shine has paved the way for truly connecting with the players, Frazier said.
“Coach Roberts brings beyond what I could imagine,” he said. “The pure knowledge he brings of the game is beyond what I could imagine. His love for the game is infectious. The players love his energy.”
The biggest hurdle now, Frazier said, is overconfidence. But he has a solution for that, too, beginning with facing more established programs, which are designed to challenge the Eagles in ways they may not have been before.
“That we aren’t a fly-by-night champion, that we’re a legitimate six-man team,” he said of what motivates them. “We can now build a schedule that will toughen us. It will continue to help us. So let’s put ourselves to the test and let’s see what happens.”
Fans can see the Eagles during road scrimmages in August. The first is at the Stephenville Knights at 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13. The other is against Not Your Ordinary School and Austin Royals in Round Rock at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19.
The season opener is against Cherokee at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, on the Eagles’ home field, 1804 RR 2342 in Burnet.
Watch videos on Highland Lakes sports by going to Fierro’s YouTube channel and searching for The Broad Podcaster. Please like, subscribe and share.