Playoff spots predicted for Billies, Eagles
A Texas icon predicts a playoff return and an underdog role for the Battlin’ Billies.
Fredericksburg High School varsity football is projected to finish No. 4 in District 14-4A DI, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
“I like the underdog role,” FHS head football coach Lance Moffett said. “Based on recent history, that’s where I expect us to be. It has zero to do with what I expect or what I believe about or in our kids. Based on what I know about football, coaches and polls, that’s how they’re going to pick us. It’s certainly not a reflection of what I think about our kids nor what I expect or want for our program.”
A fourth-place ranking means FHS can play the role of district surprise like Lampasas did in 2018.
The Badgers weren’t picked for a playoff spot but ended the regular season with a playoff berth and ended up with the program’s first postseason win since 2011.
Moffett thinks the team can exceed the fourth-place prediction by Texas Football.
The FHS team brings back six offensive starters and nine defensive starters to get FHS back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
“I’m real excited about the group we have coming back,” Moffett said. “Both the seniors and leaders, and the returners. I’m also excited about the young kids. I certainly have the expectation that we’re going to beat the prognosticators. We’re going to out-do what they’re picking us to do.”
Moffett has every reason to be excited by the returning group, with 18 lettermen coming back to give the Billies one of the deeper teams in the district.
It all starts with the returning starters on defense.
The magazine says seniors DE/OL Christian Avilez, LB/ RB Dylan Ahrens, LB/RB Hunter Metzger and QB/DB Tucker Elliott will anchor a “stingy defense” that wants to improve on last season.
Texas Football also singles out the offensive line, which returns starters in seniors Jack Gallagher, Ryan Cates, Landon West and Austin Shepperd with newcomer Kolby Wright.
Other players to watch are WR/DB Jarrett Beard (a firstteam all-district performer), WR/DB Rob Zuberbueler, WR/DB Judson Beard and WR/DB Joshua Wienecke.
FHS has to navigate a tough road back to the playoffs, which includes four games against ranked teams.
Two of the Billies’ district rivals landed in Class 4A-DI’s top 10: Liberty Hill comes in at No. 4 and Lampasas slots in at No. 9.
The fight for playoff spots No. 2-4 came down to the last day of the season, with FHS finishing inches away from second place.
“I think it’s a competitive district,” Moffett said. “On any given night, anybody can compete with anybody.”
The Liberty Hill Panthers will defend the District 14-4A DI and Region IV-4A titles after dominating their competition to reach the 4A-DII championship game.
Liberty Hill DB Brady Brewer is the preseason defensive MVP.
Lampasas beat FHS, 49-47, during the last of the 2018 regular season to finish second in the district and knock the Billies out of a postseason berth.
Badgers QB Ace Whitehead is picked by the publication to defend his 14-4A DI offensive MVP title and OL John Long is one of the top 100 juniors in Texas.
“I think the district is extremely competitive,” Moffett said. “I think Liberty Hill ought to be picked to win it, but I think Lampasas is going to give a premium run this year.”
Canyon Lake ranks third in the district after a 7-4 season and a bi-district trip, despite losing to the Billies, 34-27.
Taylor made the playoffs last season but aren’t expected to return.
The Ducks will have a new coach in Robert Little, who takes over for Rusty Purser.
Purser is now the head coach for Midland Greenwood High School.
Burnet, which went 0-5 in district play last year, is expected to finish sixth. The Bulldogs also have a new head coach in Jerod Rye.
The non-district schedule figures to be every bit as tough.
Two ranked teams visit FHS Stadium during the schedule’s first half: Kerrville Tivy (No. 15 in 5A-DII) and Wimberley (No. 23 in 4A-DII).
Texas Football lists Tivy QB Trapper Parnell as one of the top 20 senior signal callers in the state.
Tivy senior kicker Jared Zirkel, who gained notoriety for making a 59-yard field goal before the end of the first half against the Billies last season, committed to play for the Georgia Bulldogs.
A pair of 5A teams — San Antonio Sam Houston and Bastrop Cedar Creek — host FHS, and a visiting Boerne squad rounds out the pre-district slate.
Cedar Creek has four-star DE Alfred Collins leading the way on defense.
The Longhorns have a tough road ahead of themselves in new head coach Mark Kirchhoff’s first year at the helm.
Harper finished 2-7 (1-4 in District 14-2A DI) and brings in a new coach to replace four-year leader Dusty Gibbs, but has experience on its side heading into 2019.
Kirchoff last coached for Iraan in 2017, having led the program to the state title game in 2016. He won a state title as head coach of Falls City in 2010.
The Longhorns have seven returning starters on offense and six coming back on defense.
The team brings back a core of two-players in the fold, led by do-it-all athlete Sean Baethge.
OL/LB Alex Aguilar, WR/ DB Connor Lange, FB/LB Kegan Iturizza, OL/DL Josh Reyes and WR/LB Joel Helfrich provide Harper with strong play.
QB Braden Strickland, WR/ LB Dylan Ahrns and OL/LB Kelton Marek are other players to watch.
Harper faces a strong road on its way to redemption in 2019, starting with back-toback games against ranked opponents.
Christoval, which checks in at No. 20 in 2A-DII, is Harper’s Week 1 opponent.
The Cougars went 8-4 and shared the District 8-2A DII championship with Eldorado last season.
The Longhorns beat Christoval, 34-15, in 2018.
San Saba, No. 4 in 2A-DI, is the following week’s opponent.
The Armadillos won the Region II-2A championship last season and are projected to repeat this season, despite replacing head coach Jerod Fikac.
Mason opens the 2019 season ranked high as usual.
Despite a coaching change, the defending 2A-DI champions rank No. 3 in their class.
Michael McLeod takes over for Kade Burns, who won 100 games and two state championships in eight years leading the Punchers program.
The Heritage Eagles have district championship expectations.
Heritage plays the role as TAPPS 3-DIII favorites this season after an 8-2 finish that includes tying for second with Cedar Park Summit in 2018.
Depth and experience give Heritage head coach Tim Shipman hope for a strong 2019 season.
“In our district, we’re picked to finish first and I think that’s a fair assessment,” Shipman said. “As a coach, you try hard not to put the target on your back but there’s a certain amount where you forget the coach talk and look at the fact that you have everyone returning.
“We have a lot of experience. We have high expectations. Pressure produces diamonds and we embrace that.”
The Eagles bring back 10 lettermen, including six starters on both sides of the ball.
TE/DL Noah Given, C Eli Christensen, RB/LB Josh Hoermann and RB/LB John Fritzsch are players to watch.
Other prospects are QB/DB Sam Richburg, WR/DB Caden Bray, WR/DB Jack Henderson and OL/DL Aiden Hickey.
Heritage plays three TAPPS DI teams during non-district and has a road game against the Medina Bobcats, a UIL team.
Summit is 3-DIII’s No. 2 team and beat the Eagles, 47-30, last season.
Other district teams are Bulverde Living Rock, San Marcos Hill Country and San Antonio Atonement.
The Baytown Christian Bulldogs are one of the safer bets to win the DIII title after earning a No. 2 ranking among the private school six-man teams.
Baytown Christian has won two of the last three DIII championships and knocked Heritage out of the playoffs.