MANSFIELD (KFSM) - Coming off the best season since 2010, the Mansfield Tigers saw a major shakeup when head coach Craig Bentley announced he was heading south to lead Mena.
Running in to fill some very big shoes and utilize the skill Mansfield brings to the table is Tim Cothran - who's been an assistant and offensive coordinator with the Tigers since 2013.
"This is a special team and I've been with these guys for six years," Coach Cothran explained. "When Coach Bentley contacted me to let me know that he was leaving, it was a lot of sleepless nights because this was something I really wanted. This was something I really wanted to do. I wanted to be here. I like this town, I love this town."
A familiar face taking over has made the load that much lighter as the team prepares for the new season.
"It makes it a lot easier just knowing him and just not having to get used to someone else's style of offense or how they're going to run things," all-state quarterback Ethan Stovall mentioned. "He's keeping it simple and keeping it like Coach Bentley and just not changing a lot. That's what I like about it."
With a team as experienced as Mansfield, the opportunity to lead at a time like this creates the perfect storm.
"Yes, this is a really good season to take over as a head coach, because these guys are going to have a phenomenal season," Coach Cothran said of the upcoming year.
A new face as the head man hasn't phased the team whatsoever.
"I think it's been good," senior center Zack Lowe said of his coach. "He's been doing a really good job at it. I haven't really noticed a change. He's been running it like a well-oiled machine."
And the transition has come seamlessly.
"He's here every morning. He's here early. We're doing a bunch more core work, extra work," Stovall explained of the differences. "Just different types of things that I think will make us be better for this coming season."
Taking over at a time where Mansfield made its first playoff appearance since 2011, some might see picking up where Bentley left off as a daunting task. But Coach Cothran is embracing the challenge and letting the talent of the team speak for itself.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Coach Cothran laughed. "And it ain't broke right now, so we're going to keep doing more of the same. We're not going to make wholesale changes. There will be a few little changes along the way. But we're just going to keep trucking the same way."
"There's no rebuilding. It's just get back to work," Stovall concluded. "It's just like he came in and we already knew what we were supposed to do. We're ready to get to it."
Tim Cothran will make his head coaching debut Thursday, August 29th as Mansfield takes on Hackett in zero week. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.