NEEDVILLE — It’s not hard to spot the Needville High School football practice fields.
The fields are behind the school with a large light blue banner running a fence with “NEEDVILLE” and “BLUE JAYS” printed on it.
The practice fields look on par with a college program and that is the goal of head coach Mike Giles.
Giles’ goal is to show his players that he and his staff care about the program. And in return the players will care about the program.
The moves have been made to continue a culture shift for the Blue Jays from where the program was when Giles took over Needville in 2013.
Giles has won 21 games over the past four years and taken the Blue Jays to the playoffs twice.
But for the past two years, the Blue Jays were on the outside looking in for the postseason.
Needville twice has finished tied for third place both seasons and lost tie-breakers.
Coach Giles and the Blue Jays are fully aware of how close they have been to make the playoffs entering the 2018 season.
And it is clear that is motivation to “dot the I’s and cross the t’s”.
“It’s exciting to get back on the grass because you spend some much time during the summer in conditioning and administrative stuff,” Giles said.
“But to get back on the grass and have the kids moving around, getting to coach them that is the fun part for me.
“This is a fun group to coach.”
The Blue Jays will rely on a young core to make that next step with a handful of sophomores in key positions.
“We’ve got young kids that are going to have to contribute early,” Giles said. “We’re going to make mistakes.
“We have to learn from them and overcome them.
“We have to progress each week. That is the goal, to be better each week as we get ready for district.”
The young group will get a full month of practice and tough non-district games against Sam Houston, St. Thomas, Calallen and Yoakum.
“We don’t want them to roll into El Campo in week five and not be prepared,” Giles said.
The Blue Jays will have scrimmages against Wharton and Coldspring-Oakhurst before the season starts on Sam Houston on Aug. 31.