Those words belong to Erath head football coach Doug Dotson.
Dotson, originally from the Lafayette area, has taken over the job at Erath with hopes of turning the program around.
He’s got the credentials. Spending the last five years with Central in Baton Rouge, he was instrumental in getting the school into the playoffs all five years he was there.
The first three years of his time in Baton Rouge, he was a defensive coordinator under coach Sid Edwards, taking over as head coach for the last two years.
“It was a very similar situation to here,” Dotson recalled. “We started out as everyone’s Homecoming game.”
Dotson said they changed that in a hurry.
According to the new Erath coach, his first goal was to change everyone’s mindset. “We have to make these kids believe they can play with anyone. I’ve challenged every coach here to make these kids believe.”
But now, the prodigal son returns home.
“There’s nothing like the Acadiana area in terms of food and culture,” he said.
Now that he’s here, there’s a clean slate with all the players.
“I don’t know what went on before and I don’t really care. We’ve got some good guys that have played before and some new kids that have just come out.”
The attitude among the players is also noticeably relaxed.
“It’s a lot of fun out here,” said junior quarterback Ty Bares. “Last year it felt more like a job.”
Nicholas Lucas, a senior, added that everyone is working harder for Dotson.
Getting ready for the season, Dotson is already eyeing some district opponents, like Patterson.
“I know they’ve got a good work ethic down there. The coach has been to the dome two or three times,” he said. “They’re the big dogs.”
It’s not a deterrent, though. The Bobcats’ coach is hoping his players step up.
“The guys will try to get up to that level. It makes your district better.”
It’s the same strategy they pulled off at Central High in Baton Rouge. While Dotson was there, the school won a district title, which, he said, was “unheard of.”
A defensive guy at heart, Dotson is planning to run a familiar 4-2-5 formation, but noted that you have to be prepared for anything.
“You have to be flexible. We’ll base out of a 4-2-5, but we’ll get into a lot of different things, too,” he said.
“We’ve got to be able to survive.”
Coming with Dotson to Erath is Rob Chatman, who was the quarterback coach at Central before taking the job as offensive coordinator for the Bobcats.
“We’re definitely a spread football team. Going to have a lot of hurry up and go on the field,” Dotson added.
The kids have taken to it, which is good for Dotson, who gets underway with padded practice this week.
“Offensively, we’re going to have to be able to take whatever a defense brings at us,” he explained. “They have five in the box, we run it. If they have seven, eight or nine, then we certainly have to throw it.”
Bottom line, according to Dotson, is preparation. “We have to be balanced.”
They start the season tough. They’ll take on Delcambre in a rivalry game. “That one’s always a heated battle.”
“Vermilion Catholic, too, is coming off a great season,” he continued. ”Coach Charpentier there will probably take off where the previous coach left it.”
The team leaves Sunday to go to training camp.
“It’s really a team building experience,” Dotson said. It’s a practice he brought over from his time at Central High in Baton Rouge.
“They’ll bond. We’ll get them out in the woods with no cell phones, any electronic devices or any contact with the outside world.”
Dotson plans on the team getting after it at the camp, which will be in Lumberton, Mississippi, at King’s Arrow Ranch.
“Football, football, football for three days.”
The camp will have three-a-day practices. The first will be at 5:30 a.m. and will be a more relaxed, walkthrough kind of practice. The last practice of the day will be late in the evening, to keep the kids out of the heat for the most part.
“We’ll be out in the heat for probably one hour during the day, just to get them acclimated,” Dotson said.
This summer, the weather has treated the kids well, according to Dotson.
“It’s been very wet. It’s been good for the sugar cane farmers and our boys on the field.”
The 88-man Bobcats team kicks off the season at home versus local rival Delcambre on August 31. After that, they travel to Catholic High School in New Iberia.
Dotson has a solid group of players joining the ranks this year. He’s hoping to turn things around.