The Lone Star State’s unofficial gridiron oracle hit the shelves last week, and the word is that Battlin’ Billies football will improve in 2018.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, a yearly magazine covering all levels of football, has Fredericksburg High School finishing in third place in the revamped District 14-4A DI after back-to-back fourth place finishes.
The expectations for FHS are to finish above 14-4A DI’s runners-up from last season, Taylor, as well as Burnet and Lampasas, non-district foes from FHS’ last two years.
Liberty Hill and Canyon Lake, thought to be the district and Region IV front runners, are ranked first and second in 14-4A DI, respectively.
“We’re picked to be third,” FHS head football coach Lance Moffett said. “That’s probably better than expected, I guess … That’s good. I’m excited about that. Liberty Hill and Canyon Lake ought to be picked first and second.”
FHS’ opponents already have their eyes on the Billies, as the magazine also quotes Liberty Hill coach Jeff Walker as seeing FHS as a threat this season.
The experienced players returning might have something to do with the anticipated improvement this season.
FHS returns eight starters on both offense and defense, and 17 lettermen are set to return for another season of varsity football.
“I think our experience gives us an edge,” Moffett said. “From a skill position standpoint, I think we’re good as any team we’ve had.”
The Billies finished 6-5 in 2017, including a 1-3 run in district that earned them fourth place and a spot in the playoffs. FHS ended the season with a 47-23 bi-district loss to Waco La Vega.
The magazine says senior Hobbs Price will see time at quarterback, running back and defensive back, and will return kicks again this season.
Senior running back Willie Sebera will “make it difficult for opposing defenses to focus on one runner,” according to Texas Football’s section about the Billies.
Hayden Ahrens, listed as both a defensive end and tight end, is expected to “test opposing offensive lines” after recording four sacks in 2017.
OL Dalton Keener, WR/DB Josh Handley, WR/DB Jarrett Beard, OL/DL Travis Cates, QB Brant Bowers, LB/RB Dax Dietrich, DL/OL Cristian Avilez and OL/DL Landon West are also noted as FHS players to watch in 2018.
Tough road ahead
If the rankings are any indication of opponents’ quality, FHS faces one of the school’s toughest football schedules in quite some time.
FHS will go head-to-head with two ranked teams in the pre-district part of the schedule — Kerrville Tivy (No. 17 in 5A DII) and Wimberley (No. 7 in 4A DII) — in addition to tackling a couple of ranked teams residing in district.
“No disrespect, but our schedule, on the front end, was too weak (last season),” Moffett said. “We weren’t prepared to play in the competitive district we were in because of the weak nature of our pre-district schedule. We pretty much rolled everybody (in our pre-district schedule).”
FHS and Tivy renew their rivalry after a six-year recess.
The Billies are looking for revenge after last season’s 37-34 overtime loss to Wimberley, which won the Region IV-4A DII championship in 2018.
Class 5A teams San Antonio Sam Houston and Bastrop Cedar Creek, and Class 4A school Boerne are the other non-district opponents.
Liberty Hill, ranked No. 5 in 4A DI, and Canyon Lake, ranked No. 15, serve as the top two preseason teams in both 14-4A DI and Region IV-4A DI.
“It’s a much more competitive district than we’ve been, top to bottom, in the last two years,” Moffett said. “The last two years, there was a clear bottom team. I think anything can happen.”
Texas Football expects the Panthers and Hawks to play for the Region IV-4A DI title in the fall.
The Panthers return six starters on offense, including 4A’s second-best returning rusher and the preseason offensive MVP in second-team all-state running back Kyle Harrison (2,702 yards in 2017). Liberty Hill also has five starters back on defense.
Canyon Lake is back as defending district champs for the first time in the school’s history. The Hawks bring back four starters on offense and five on defense, one of whom is preseason MVP Greyson Lee.
Taylor, which lost 10 players on offense and the entire secondary, is slated as the fourth-best team.
Lampasas, a team Moffett says is on the rise, and Burnet, are the No. 5 and 6 teams in the district, respectively.