Sunray athletics have seen a few changes over the past couple of years. There is another change set for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Athletic Director Matt Strickland stepped down from the head coaching job of Bobcat football and has named former Defensive Coordinator Wes Boatmun as the successor.
Boatmun said coach Strickland asked him to assume the head coaching position. After some thought and consideration, Boatmun accepted.
“I look forward to just continuing to work, picking up where we left off,” Boatmun said. “The kids, they've grown so much since I've known them.
This, however, is another change. There will need to be an additional time for adjustment with a new coach coming in and another taking over the head spot.
“It's always hard to adjust to change. Coaches who are here now, weren't here three years ago, and so it's a totally new environment for the kids,” Boatmun said. And adapting to changes, that takes time. … So I think we got them in a good place. I think we're going to be able to hit the ground running, picking up where we left off. We're in some routines that the kids understand and they're ready for.”
Boatmun is a little hesitant, simply because it is a new role, however, he is excited and willing to take on the challenge. It's something, he feels, that all coaches experience when taking on a new assignment.
“I can remember when I became a coordinator how nervous I was about accepting that job,” he said. “… We're going to have high expectations for kids. We're going to do everything we can to make sure we're doing things the right way. We're going to do our very best to not cut corners.”
Stepping into the role of defensive coordinator will be Ruben Guerrero. He comes into the position having a long, varied background. He most recently was in Perryton for one year. Prior to that, he held the athletic director/head football coach titles at White Deer, and he has held various other positions.
He said he has a son who lives in Pampa and has two granddaughters. His daughter is an attorney with the Potter County District Attorney's office and lives in Amarillo.
“We decided we needed to come back to this area and be closer to the grandkids,” Guerrero said.
His wife will be teaching at Sunray Middle School, and he said everyone has been very helpful during the times he has been here.
Guerrero comes into this position with 32 years of coaching experience. This coming school year will begin his 33rd year of coaching.
He has been to Sunray a few times already having interviewed with coach Boatmun and Strickland. He said he was also able to see the kids go through a workout in Sunray.
Additionally, he was able to meet with a few of the student-athletes and other coaches at track meets. He was also the girls track coach at Perryton.
“I heard about the position, so I sent my stuff over here,” Guerrero said. “And then over the course of about a couple of weeks or so through correspondence with coach Strickland, and they (Sunray) came to the Perryton Powerlifting meet and I visited with him there.”
Through those conversations and previous correspondence, it was set in motion for Guerrero to make the move into the newly open defensive coordinator position.
He feels he can work with the kids well to bring out the best in them and perform at a high level.
“I think I get along with the kids pretty well, and I think I can motivate them,” he said. “That's kind of been one of my stronger suits. I have a lot of experience. I'm just excited. ... I'm ready to get going again.”
The current health pandemic certainly presents challenges to Guerrero, Boatmun and the rest of the football coaching staff to prepare for the upcoming fall season.
“This is all brand-new to me,” Guerrero said.
He said it is new to many coaches across Texas, as well as the country. It is difficult to not be in front of the student to physically motivate and encourage and have the close contact.
“It's going to be hard for everybody,” Boatmun said. “We were in a really good way in our strength and conditioning. We had established a routine, we were building a culture. I'm thankful we were able to get done what we got done before calamity struck. But as far as establishing something for the kids to do, it's usually pretty tough in the summer as it is, I'm hoping this thing doesn't make it more tough than it has been.
Boatmun does see something positive out of all this.
“I wouldn't be surprised if our summer program this year wasn't one of the best that we've had in recent memory because of that,” he said.
Boatmun said they sill plan on going forward as if nothing has changed. There is hope that the UIL will allow the coaches the ability to work with the kids. And if the UIL says something different, then “we do what we have to do,” he said.
Guerrero has encountered the ideas of the team mentality philosophy, similar to what the athletic department teaches in Dumas and to what Strickland is trying to bring about in Sunray. So, everyone appears to be working towards the same goal with the same idea in mind and bring forth the family mentality into the program.
“I don't think it's everywhere,” Guerrero said. “And I think it's one of those things you have to build and you got to keep building it. I think coach Strickland's on the right path doing that.”
He really believes in the young athletes in the area and feels they are a strong group of young men.
“Panhandle kids are hardworking,” Guerrero noted. “They'll get in your face, they'll get after you. That's what I'm excited about is being able to come back to some of the smaller schools and seeing some of that.”
Both men highly anticipate the upcoming season and to begin coaching the young men on the gridiron.