VANDERBILT — Music blared from the press box as Industrial ran through drills at Cobra Field.

The mood was upbeat despite the ever-present heat and humidity.

“We have a nice, new weight room and field,” said senior Blayne Moreland. “It’s enjoyable for everybody to practice. Everybody is in a good mood.”

The new facilities aren’t the only reason for optimism as Industrial prepares for the season.

The Cobras qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2015 in coach Jamie Dixon’s first season.

As a result of the progress and the upgrade in facilities, numbers are at an all-time high on the junior high and high school level.

“I think it was huge for everybody’s mindset,” said senior Karston Wimberly. “It was like we can actually do this. Now that we know we can do this, we can get better. It definitely gives everybody incentive.”

Dixon got the Industrial job late in the spring, which didn’t give him much time to install a slot-T offense.

“It took a little while for everybody to learn their roles and be able to execute their stuff,” Moreland said. “But we had a year to work on it so now we have everything where we need to be.”

Dixon came to Industrial from Giddings, which ran a spread that featured a two-back power running game.

But he was convinced the slot-T was the best fit for the Cobras’ personnel in an athletic District 14-3A, Division I.

“Our game plan is to keep their offense off the field,” Dixon said. “You take the Yoakum game for example. That first half went by in 35 minutes. Our offense did a great job of keeping them off the field in the first half. We go in it’s a seven-point ballgame at half. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to neutralize some of the talent in our district by keeping their offense off the field. That’s our best defense.”

Industrial is way ahead of where it was last season, which has allowed Dixon to expand the offense.

“We’re still going to base out of the slot-T because of the personnel I have,” he said. “But we’re also opening up a little more because we have some kids we can do some stuff.”

The Cobras also want to prevent a repeat of last year’s bi-district loss to Rice Consolidated.

“Last year, when we got to Rice, they stacked the box on us and took away our run game,” Moreland said. “He (Dixon) doesn’t want that to happen again. We’re becoming a little more diverse. We’ve got some receivers this year that can catch the ball. We can spread it out so no one can stack the box on us.”

Industrial will travel to Ganado on Thursday for its final scrimmage before showing off its renovated field in the season opener against Mathis.

“It’s just the environment,” Wimberly said. “Everybody seems like more perky and ready to get going.”

Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or by email at Follow him on Twitter at @mikeforman21

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Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate. He has worked at the Advocate since 1982. He has a bachelor's degree from SMU and a master's degree from UCLA.

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