EARLY — After leading the Early Longhorns to an appearance in the Region I-2A championship round in 2005, Blake Sandford is again head coach of the high school baseball program.

Sandford, who served as an assistant on the Early staff this past season, is taking over for Wayland Damron, who has accepted a position with the Lubbock ISD.

“It’s neat that I can come back to the program where I’ve once been and see some familiar surroundings and some familiar people,” Sandford said. “The kids that I have now were little guys when I was here before, but getting to know the kids again is a nice thing. Working for good people and a good boss makes it exciting and makes it a good place to come to work whether I was here before or not. But I do like coming back and trying to re-establish some good traditions we got started here.”

The Longhorns finished the 2013 season with a 19-7 record and finished second in District 6-2A. Sandford feels the players are in place to make a push for a district championship and beyond next season.

“You always want to try and improve on what you did the last year and with the kids we have coming back we certainly have that chance,” Sandford said. “We have a good nucleus of kids that got extensive experience. We also have some good kids coming up that are really going to helps us. The baseball world is going to be really nice for Early the next few years. We want to get back to year in and year out putting a great product out the field and really establish ourselves as one of the premier programs in West Texas.”

Along with his previous stint as Early head coach, Sandford has served as an assistant at Bangs and was head coach at Brownwood for the 2013 campaign, leading the Lions to a second-place district finish.