Five Billies seniors make ‘players to watch’ list in Texas football magazine
Projections for the upcoming fall football season are a “mixed bag” of outlooks for local football teams at Fredericksburg, Harper and Heritage schools.
Dave Campbell’s 2016 Texas Football edition, often looked to by fans as a predictor of things to come, has said that the Fredericksburg High School (FHS) varsity squad will miss any playoff action by finishing fourth out of five teams in its district.
The Longhorns of Harper High School (HHS) will fare slightly better, making the playoffs and extending its season by winning third in its district, according to Campbell’s guide.
And, Heritage School’s Eagles will see a return to glory, as Campbell predicts it to win the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) six-man league.
According to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, predictions favor the Boerne Greyhounds as the future District 14-4A champ, followed by the Taylor Ducks in second place and the Fischer Canyon Lake Hawks in third.
The Battlin’ Billies are picked to finish in fourth place, only besting the Austin Eastside Memorial Panthers, a team that is diving into the varsity schedule after years of playing “non-honors” seasons against junior varsity and small parochial teams.
Last year, the Billies went 6-4 on the season and 2-3 in district, but a high point came in the final game of the season. On Nov. 6, 2015 on the road, as the underdog, Fredericksburg beat district runner-up Taylor in overtime, 33-32, for a final win for the seniors.
This year, the FHS team expects seven returning lettermen on offense and eight on defense.
Pundits note “players to watch” among Fredericksburg’s gridiron seniors as: offensive lineman/defensive end Wade Davis (6’2”, 220 pounds, 4.9); quarterback/wide receiver Jonathan Cleland (6’1”, 175 pounds, 4.6); running back Neil Loth (6’1”, 180 pounds, 4.5); offensive lineman Bryce Bowers (5’9”, 230 pounds, 5.1) and wide receiver/defensive back Jordan Hartmann (5’8”, 170 pounds, 4.5.)
Top juniors for Fredericksburg, as defined by Campbell’s, include: quarterback Riggs Threadgill (6’3”, 205 pounds, 4.8) and wide receiver/defensive back Sean Majors (6’2”, 170 pounds, 4.6.)
And, a top sophomore returning to the squad is running back/defensive back Gary Sorola (5’9”, 155 pounds, 4.8.)
Other “prospects” to watch include defensive end Matt Blohm, running back/linebacker Willie Sebera and running back/defensive back Caleb Wilkins.
“The emergence of QB Threadgill could allow versatile QB/WR Cleland (475 yards receiving, 6 TDs, 305 yards passing) to get more touches on offense, strengthening a unit that features plenty of playmakers such as RBs Loth, Hartmann and Sorola,” Coach Lance Moffett said.
“OL Bowers is the QB for the line,” Moffett added. “Defensively, DE Davis (50 tackles, two sacks) is a high-motor player that consistently puts pressure on the quarterback.”
Pre-season MVP distinctions by Campbell’s excludes FHS, citing running back Nick Novak of Boerne as Pre-Season Offensive MVP and defensive lineman Colton Kruse of Taylor and the Pre-Season Defensive MVP.
For the Harper Longhorns to return to the playoffs — a feat it pulled off last year for the first time since 2009 — they’ll need to live up to pre-season predictions of a third place finish in District 14-2A (behind perennial league champion Mason and Junction, and ahead of Brackettville and Sabinal).
Coached by Dusty Gibbs, the squad finished 3-3 in district last year and were bi-district finalists.
A powerful influence on how the Longhorns fare this season will depend in large part on the play of Josh Sagraves, who will hold down the positions of either tight end or wide receiver.
Sagraves is the brother of just-graduated Gus Sagraves who quarterbacked Harper for four years.
Other “players to watch” listed by Campbell’s guide are: offensive lineman/linebacker Ben Lashley, quarterback/defensive back Tracy Patterson, offensive lineman Joe Boy, offensive lineman/defensive lineman John Stewart, running back/linebacker Brett Dunning, running back/linebacker Jadyn Breedlove and running back Dylan Sivells.
Other prospects include offensive lineman/linebacker Prie Williams, defensive lineman Jeremiah Monk, quarterback/defensive back Tate Hansen and defensive linemen Tristan Benson and Blaze Haag.
“Breedlove, who averaged 6.8 yards per carry last year, and Sagraves (837 receiving, 8 TDs) will lead the Longhorns’ offense,” said Coach Dusty Gibbs. “Either Patterson or Hansen is expected to take over as the team’s signal-caller.”
TAPPS 6M DII-Heritage
For most high school football programs, this is the time of year when teams either prepare to “rebuild or reload,” but the word around the Heritage School Eagles’ camp is “rebound” as they’ll soon start their August practice sessions.
Last year, Heritage — which has been to the state finals six times since 2004, won six state crowns since 2004 — finished in an uncommon third place position and lasted only two rounds in the TAPPS six-man post-season activities.
Many pundits are picking Heritage to win Division II District 6 in the regular season, topping league opponents Bulverde Bracken Christian (second), Victoria Faith Academy (third) and Spring Branch Living Rock (fourth).
Eagle head coach Tim Shipman believes his team’s strengths lie in the play of defensive end Parker Given and running back Jacob Huser.
“Given has a tremendous work ethic,” Shipman said, adding that Huser “has developed into a team leader.”
Other Heritage players expected to provide immediate momentum include running back Dillon Roberts and wide receiver/defensive end Jackson Abel.