Steele football coach Mike Jinks didn't see the DVD of the Knights' 34-14 loss to Spring Dekaney in the Class 5A Division II state final last December until three weeks ago.
That it took Jinks nearly seven months to watch the most disappointing defeat of his stellar career a second time, frame by frame, reflects how deeply it hurt him.
"It's been a long offseason," Jinks said Monday. "I'm chomping at the bit to get back. You feel wounded when you lose a game like that. We had a heck of a run, and you really don't think about it until it's done.
The loss to Dekaney snapped Steele's 28-game winning streak and spoiled the Knights' bid for back-to-back state titles. Led by running back Malcolm Brown, Steele won the 5A Division II championship and finished 14-2.
The Knights were 15-0 last year before falling short of the crown in their return trip to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
"When we stepped on the field, we felt like we were going to win it. Period," Jinks said. "I wish I would have handled it a little better afterward, not only for our football team, but for my family. I was down a lot for a while."
Asked how long it took him to get out of his funk, Jinks smiled and said: "About three weeks ago when I started getting ready for another football season. You get fired up and ready to go again. You get back around the kids again and you start to get excited."
Steele is 63-16 in six varsity seasons
Jinks was back on the sideline Tuesday night when he led the South squad against the North in the Texas High School Coaches Association all-star game at the Alamodome.
"Getting ready for this game has been great for me," Jinks said. "It's a great way to get ready for the season. Without a doubt, these are still some of the best players in the state of Texas.
"It’s not only that. These are some of the best young men in the state. I've developed some relationships with some of these guys that will last a lifetime. It is my hope and my prayer that they've gotten a nugget to take with them in the last four or five days."
Jinks, 40, is the only head football coach Steele has had since the Cibolo school opened in 2005. The Knights are 63-16 in six varsity seasons.
Jinks made history in 2010 when he became the first African American coach to lead a football team from the San Antonio area to a University Interscholastic League state title.
Steele, which starts preseason workouts Aug. 13, returns four offensive and four defensive starters. The Knights are the highest ranked San Antonio-area team in Texas Football magazine's 5A preseason rankings, holding the No. 7 spot.
While Steele lost some outstanding players to graduation, including quarterback Tommy Armstrong (Nebraska) and defensive end Eric Maus (Air Force), the Knights still will be formidable.
"Best football team I've ever had – period," Jinks said. "Everybody thinks I'm crazy. It doesn't mean we're going to win the state championship because we could lose the first four games of the season."
Jinks: Steele has what it takes to remain among state's elite
The Knights play, in order, Madison, Judson, Kerrville Tivy and Austin Westlake in nondistrict. Steele is the runaway favorite in District 28-5A, which includes East Central, South San and Southwest.
Jinks expressed confidence that senior Breylan McCollum will step in at quarterback and keep Steele's high-powered offense rolling. Junior running back Justin Stockton, who saw considerable playing time as a freshman on the state-championship team, and senior wide receiver Matthew Mayle are back to help fuel the offense.
The defense will be led by senior safeties Erik Huhn and Jordan Sterns.
"We're a little young up front, but we have some very good running backs," Jinks said. "Breylan is going to have a great year. We've got threats outside that we've never had before and they're dominant. It's the best collection of talent that we've ever had. Now will they work as well and do the little things as well as the teams the previous two years? I don't know.
"We're wounded and people don't really see us as a true state-championship caliber football team. That excites me because I know different. We've got a shot, a dang good shot. It's not too often that you can say that three years in a row. That's why I count my blessings."
A 1990 Judson graduate who played quarterback for the Rockets, Jinks made news in January when he made it known he was interested in pursuing the head-coaching job at his alma mater after Jim Rackley announced his retirement. But Jinks, who would have been the front-runner for the job, withdrew his name from consideration and never was interviewed.
Kerrville Tivy coach Mark Smith was named the Rockets’ head coach two weeks later.
Leach, Saenz will be Knights' co-defensive coordinators
"I think they got the right guy in Mark Smith," Jinks said. "He's a great coach. He's going to do great things at Judson. I know without any doubt or any moment's hesitation that I'm where I'm supposed to be.
"At the time, it was tough. I'm not going to sit here and try to sugar-coat it or lie to you. It weighed on my heart heavily. But after having three or four months now to digest everything and look at how everything played out for everybody, I think it was the best decision for everyone involved."
Jinks lost two assistant coaches in the offseason who had been with him since Steele opened, Jared Johnston and Mark Pavlosky.
Johnston, who was first assistant head coach, resigned to become head coach at Clemens and Pavlosky, the Knights’ defensive coordinator, quit coaching so he could spend more time with his family.
Scott Leach and David Saenz will serve as co-defensive coordinators.
Jinks has hired threw new assistant coaches, Charles Bruce, James Butler and Steve Schneider.
“We had one final staff meeting Sunday night,” Jinks said. “It’s been a great run. Change is inevitable. We’ve been together for seven years, and it’s hard to see those guys go. We’re going to miss them.”