BULLARD, Texas (KETK) — Colt Bradford knows his way around Bullard pretty well, he’s been part of the program for 13 combined years, and when Scott Callaway retired from coaching but remained at the school’s athletic director, Bradford was the man they called to lead the Panthers.

“It’s a huge confidence boost to me, I’ve been around these kids, most of them, their older brothers before,” said Bradford. “I’ve seen these kids at camps all throughout their careers, so it’s a big deal for me.”

Bullard is two years removed from a winless season, and last year the Panthers went 3-7.

But through the struggle, there was a spark this senior-laden team hopes to ignite in 2023.

“Last year, if you go back and look, we lost five games in the last two minutes,” said Bradford. “These guys are fighters, they’re going to fight to the end, and we’re learning how to finish right now.”

“All of us who are starting right now, were on that 0-10 team, and it just gave us a different mentality,” said quarterback Ayden Barrett. “We don’t want to go through that again at all, so we’ve just got a few things to put together, and man, we’re going to be good this year.”

“We’ve been around Bradford our whole lives so it just really helps I think the mentality of we’re going to be tougher than anybody this year,” said offensive tackle Austin Ellis.

They are a team filled with seniors who have already committed to their coach’s message.

“They already know where I set the bar, where I set the expectations, we don’t lower the bar, and you’re expected to rise to it,” said Bradford.

“We’re Bullard football now, we’re not here to go 0-10, we’re going to start building a foundation to being a good East Texas football team,” said Ellis.

The Panthers have shown glimpses of what they could be through hard times, now they are hoping 2023 will be the year the fight they always had, turns into wins on Friday nights.

Bullard will open the regular season at home against Mabank on Friday, August 25th, at 7:30 p.m.