Billie football playoff bound for first time since 2007

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By Matt Ward —

 

Five years, 11 months and 24 days.

Around 3,146,400 minutes will have elapsed between kickoff of the Fredericksburg High School varsity football team’s bi-district showdown against Somerset Friday night and kickoff of the Billies’ last playoff appearance against Cibolo Steele in 2007.

With six years of waiting soon behind them, Fredericksburg players have little time to celebrate their 9-1 regular season and undefeated District 27-3A championship before wiping the slate clean for post-season play.

Yet for those Billies who struggled through a 2-8 campaign in 2011 and battled their way to a 5-5 mark in 2012, making the playoffs validates three years’ worth of effort.

“It justifies that all the blood, sweat and tears that we as coaches and players have put into this program has finally paid off,” senior defensive back and wide receiver Matthew McManigle said.

“Competing in the playoffs means to me that I have another chance to play for my team, family, school and community,” junior linebacker Wyatt Brannan said. “The playoffs mean that I get another chance to play the game that I love for a little while longer and to achieve something that has never been done in Fredericksburg High School.”

Though he was not around for the Billies’ last postseason trip, third-year head coach Lance Moffett understands what impact a playoff berth in football means to Fredericksburg.

“It’s very reminiscent of what we’ve done before,” he said, “but our challenge is going to be to do something different. At some point along the way if we’re fortunate enough to win some playoff games, we’ll be able to do more than any other team.”

Success in the playoffs requires “laser-focus on the intensity, the preparation and taking care of business,” the FHS head coach said.

“You have a tendency when you make the playoffs to get caught up in the hype of the playoffs and so do we want to get caught up in t-shirts and just being there or do we want to accomplish greatness,” Moffett said. “At the end of the day, it’s about our choices we make in regard to the attitude we bring to practice and are we going to be willing to prepare the way we have throughout district.”

Junior lineman Jake Mohr believes that the Billies’ season can be compared to building a layered cake.

“My idea of the playoffs is like the icing on the cake,” Mohr said. “To complete the cake, you have to start from the bottom up and we have reached the top and now we have to cover the cake with icing.”

“Team work, great coaching and total community support have been instrumental in getting us where we are,” Mohr added. “Play hard, pray hard, give God the glory for our blessings and we will win — one game at a time!!!”

With every victory that they notch along the way, this year’s Billie squad leaps another hurdle that has stood in Fredericksburg’s way for half a decade.

A win over rival Boerne all but assured the Billies their first playoff berth since 2007 and wins over Navarro and Wimberley in subsequent weeks guaranteed FHS its first district championship in 15 years.

“We came together as brothers and that’s why we are successful,” junior safety and wide receiver Brayden Beard said. “We are finally getting respect across the state of Texas for our football team.”

With their winning streak now at nine games, Fredericksburg inches closer to the 10-game streak set by the 1986 team and the 11-win season posted by the 1965 team.

During their Saturday practice following the regular season finale Friday against Bandera, Moffett urged his squad to “keep doing what we have done,” in order to keep their goals alive.

“Playoffs are a new season,” junior quarterback Kyle Grona said. “To me, playoffs mean the start of a legacy that will continue to be held for a long time.”

As part of their Saturday workouts, Billie players run sprints for mistakes and mental errors committed in the previous game.

Though the number of laps has decreased significantly throughout the season, each series of sprints ends with the team reciting a set of goals for the rest of the season.

“I timed it up so that we would say district champs (with seven sprints to go),” Moffett said.  “Then we would get down to the last six and we would say bi-district champs, area champs, regional champs, quarterfinal champs, semifinal champs and we’d finish with state champs.”

Mottos instilled by Moffett and his coaching staff over the last three years like “Right Way Every Day” and emblazoning the phrase “Über Alles” on the backs of Billie jerseys have promoted responsibility among players both in the locker room and in the classroom, all while developing a pride in serving as a role model for younger students and representing Fredericksburg as a community.

“Playoffs mean an opportunity to represent my town while playing the game I love,” senior defensive end Clayton Braden said. “How we do in the playoffs will be the legacy we leave behind. We can do great and be the team that ‘was’ or do poorly and be the team that “should have been.”

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