It’s a new moment for Chad Graves against an opponent that he knows pretty well.
Graves will coach his first game as Palacios head coach on Friday against Skidmore-Tynan, a team that beat his former team in the playoffs last season.
Graves knows what to expect from Skidmore-Tynan since he saw the Bobcats when he was coaching at Natalia last season, losing to Skidmore-Tynan 34-31 in the first round of the playoffs.
Now, Graves will try to lead the Sharks back to the playoffs, but that will be a long-term goal. Right now, he’s working on getting Palacios back to respectability after a 2-7 season last year.
Palacios will have to find a new quarterback after junior Kolby Wilson decided to concentrate only on baseball. Sophomore Eric Alvarez is one of the early favorites, but Graves said that he might play one or two more at the position.
But the offense will rely on its playmakers, which includes sophomore running back Gary Haynes, senior wide receiver Camron Polk and junior wide-out Jacob Martinez to move the ball.
“Our skill kids are impressive,” Graves said. “You look at the other teams athlete-to-athlete, and we’re pretty solid. We just got to fine-tune a lot of things and be fundamentally sound.”
Skidmore-Tynan went 5-7 last year, but still made the 3A Division II playoffs, losing to Tidehaven in the second round.
The Bobcats return seven starters each on offense and defense. Junior running back Logen Schannen paced the offense by rushing for 776 yards and six touchdowns last season.
On defense, Skidmore-Tynan has a strong group of linemen and linebackers. Junior defensive lineman Kayton Alvarado had 55 tackles and two sacks last year, while linebacker Miguel Barrera led the team in tackles in 2017 with 80 and also had three interceptions.