Brookesmith, May, Zephyr open season at home, Blanket makes short drive to Rising Star

The 2017 high school football season begins with 11 games on tap for teams in the Bulletin’s coverage area. Brief previews of each contest are as follows:

 

Richland Springs vs. Happy

8 p.m. Saturday at Jayton

 

In a battle of the top-ranked Class A Division I and Division II programs in the state, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, the Richland Springs Coyotes will attempt to extend their win streak to 30 games as they tangle with the Happy Cowboys in the Jayton Gridiron Classic.

The Coyotes are coming off a second straight Class A Division II state championship and are targeting their second state three-peat (2010-12) and Texas record ninth state title — all since 2004.

Richland Springs is led by the senior trio of reigning state player of the year Walker Tippie (2,193 rushing yards, 43 TDs), 2016 defensive MVP Hutton Lusty (92 tackles), and first-team all-state selection Jordan Burkhart.

Happy is coming off a 13-1 campaign with its only loss to eventual Division I state champion Borden County, 92-58, in the state semifinals, and returns five starters on each side of the ball. The Cowboys are led by running back/defensive end Jayton Walden (851 yards rushing, 19 TDs) and running back/defensive back Colton McCarley (373 yards receiving, 6 TDs; 102 tackles).

Richland Springs and Happy did not play last season.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Richland Springs is a 35-point favorite.

 

Oakwood at Zephyr

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Zephyr Bulldogs, ranked No. 4 in Class A Division I by sixmanfootball.com, look to build on trips to the state semifinals and state quarterfinals the past two seasons in their home opener against the Oakwood Panthers.

Zephyr will be playing its first game at Blaine Quirl Stadium since 2015, as new turf was installed in August to replace a faulty surface that forced the Bulldogs to play the first half of their 2016 schedule on the road.

Zephyr returns four starters on each side of the ball from last year’s 10-3 squad, including quarterback Kason King, who threw for more than 1,000 yards; receiver Dillon Williams, who tallied 1,100 yards receiving and 32 touchdowns; and running back Nicholas Moody, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Oakwood welcomes back five starters on each side of the ball from a 4-7 playoff team, as the Panthers are projected to finish second in the District 15-A Division II race behind Milford. Spread back Ethan Edgemon (1,262 passing yards, 1,843 rushing yards, 25 TDs) is the driving force behind the Panther attack.

Last year, Zephyr defeated Oakwood, 58-30.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Zephyr is a 45-point favorite.

 

Santa Anna at May

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

Ranked No. 8 in Class A Division I by sixmanfootball.com, the May Tigers are looking for a repeat of last year’s undefeated regular season — and a deep playoff run — as the Santa Anna Mountaineers visit in Friday’s season opener.

May head coach Craig Steele, who begins his 14th season with the Tigers, welcomes back four offensive and three defensive starters from the 2016 District 11-A Division I championship squad.

Players to watch for the Tigers include Wyatt Mote (1,214 yards passing, 21 TDs), Daniel Salinas (160 tackles), Jacob Brown, Wyatt Mote, Preston Johnston, Austin McAbee, Rylee Baker and Jaden Baker.

Santa Anna is coming off a 7-4, District 8-A Division I championship campaign, but head coach Tom McVey lost seven seniors from last year’s squad.

D.J. Mattes is the most experienced returnee for Santa Anna, while new blood asked to fill in at pivotal roles for the Mountaineers include Chase McIver, Cody Robertson, Jacob Perry, Alex Crowder and Blake Burcham.

Last year, May defeated Santa Anna, 54-20.

According to sixmanfootball.com, May is a 41-point favorite.

 

Blanket at Rising Star

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Blanket Tigers begin the Brent Williamson coaching era on the road against the Rising Star Wildcats, who are looking to make strides following a 1-9 campaign during head coach Randy Jones’ first season.

Williamson inherits a 6-4 club that missed the playoffs in 2016 after four consecutive postseason berths. The Tigers bring back from the third place team in District 10-A Division I a year ago Luke Kinkade (195 yards passing, 7 TDs), Blake Hood and Tyler Wheeler, while newcomer Tyler Simpson is expected to make an impact early.

Rising Star’s lone win last season was a 34-18 non-district victory over Gustine as the Wildcats finished at the bottom of the District 11-A Division II standings. Returning for the Wildcats is a nucleus consisting of Micah Carnley, Ernesto Reyes and Alex Teplichek.

Last year, Blanket defeated Rising Star, 54-6.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Blanket is a 45-point favorite.

 

Gorman at Brookesmith

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

Scott Edmondson debuts as the 10th head coach in 14 seasons for the Brookesmith Mustangs, who are looking to build on last year’s playoff appearance as they host the Gorman Panthers to open the season.

Last season, Brookesmith reached the postseason for the first time since 2006 as it finished as the runner-up in District 12-A Division II and posted a 5-6 overall record. The Mustangs return four offensive and three defensive starters from the squad, led by Mason Brummett, Ryder Nelson and Holden Bolt.

Gorman also welcomes a new head coach as Jeb Dixon replaces Brent Williamson, who is now at Blanket. The Panthers went 7-4 last season and reached the bi-district round of the playoffs, but return just one offensive and two defensive starters from that team. Players to watch for Gorman include honorable mention all-state quarterback Trent Padron (412 rushing yards, 978 passing yards, 144 tackles; eight interceptions, three defensive TDs).

Brookesmith and Gorman did not play last season.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Brookesmith is a 45-point underdog.

 

Comanche at Ballinger

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The reigning District 3-3A Division I champion Comanche Indians look to start the 2017 campaign with a victory as they venture to Ballinger to battle the Bearcats, under the direction of former Bangs head coach Chuck Lipsey.

Coming off a 7-4 season, Indians head coach Stephen Hermesmeyer returns nine offensive and four defensive starters including running back/linebacker Colton Roberts (754 rushing yards, 5 TDs; 119 tackles), running back/linebacker Jeremy Bostick (658 rushing yards, 6 TDs), quarterback Bronte Hermesmeyer (310 passing yards, 5 TDs) — who missed half the season with a broken collarbone — and offensive/defensive linemen Moses Garcia (81 tackles), Nacho Rios and Emiliano Jimenez.

Ballinger is picked to finish third in District 3-3A Division II after tallying a 3-7 record last year. The Bearcats welcome back six starters on each side of the ball, including quarterback Hagen Garvin, receiver Deaundre Manley, linebacker Brandon Lancaster and lineman Jace King.

Last year, Comanche defeated Ballinger, 35-14.

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Comanche is a 24-point favorite.

 

Coleman at Jim Ned

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Coleman Bluecats will attempt to turn back the Jim Ned Indians as both teams attempt to start the season 1-0 Friday night.

Coleman is coming off a 9-4 season and three-round deep playoff run, but the Bluecats return just one offensive and two defensive starters from the squad. Bluecats to watch include running back/defensive back Terran Holloway (600 rushing yards, 2 TDs), quarterback/defensive back Denton Allen (65 tackles), tight end/defensive end Jett Allen (186 receiving yards, 1 TD), running back/linebacker Trotter Harris (103 tackles) and offensive/defensive lineman Dave Wakefield.

Jim Ned is attempting to climb in District 3-3A Division I this season as the Indians return six starters on each side of the ball from a 3-7 team in 2016. Players to watch include Coalby Rives (62 tackles, one interception), Preston Freeman (30 tackles, two sacks) and Brandon Amidon (32 tackles).

Last year, Coleman defeated Jim Ned, 37-0.

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Coleman is a 30-point favorite.

 

Goldthwaite at Mason

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Goldthwaite Eagles stunned the Mason Punchers in the 2016 season opener, and are looking to pull another upset as they hit the road to start the 2017 campaign Friday.

Goldthwaite posted a 7-4 record last year and was scheduled to have six starters back on each side of the ball, but the injury bug has bitten the Eagles hard already. Players to watch for Goldthwaite include Quaid Seward (1,489 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and receiver Kyle Schwartz (438 receiving yards, 3 TDs), among others.

Mason finished with an 11-3 record a year ago and brings back six offensive and seven defensive starters from that squad. Players to watch include quarterback Otto Wofford (1,071 passing yards, 8 TDs), running back/safety Klay Klaerner (493 rushing yards, 6 TDs, 111 tackles, 9 sacks), linebacker Emanuel Martinez (124 tackles) and linebacker Cal Rasch.

Last year, Goldthwaite defeated Mason, 20-13.

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Goldthwaite is a 14-point underdog.

 

 

Winters at San Saba

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

Jerod Fikac takes over at the helm in San Saba, where the Armadillos will attempt to halt a 16-game losing streak in the season opener against the Winters Blizzards.

San Saba’s closest brush with victory during an 0-10 campaign in 2016 came in the season opener, where Winters escaped with a 15-14 victory.

Fikac inherits a roster with six offensive and three defensive starters returning. Armadillos to keep an eye on include quarterback Sean O’Keefe (243 rushing yards, 397 passing yards), running back/linebacker Eric Argote (259 rushing yards; 81 tackles) and tight end/defensive end Joseph Watson (119 receiving yards; two sacks).

The Blizzards, residing in District 6-2A Division II, return seven offensive and eight defensive starters from last year’s 2-8 squad. Players to watch include Troy Hernandez (449 rushing yards, three TDs), receiver Joey Garcia (414 receiving yards) and defensive back Slater Lindley (two interceptions).

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, San Saba is a 3-point favorite.

 

Mullin at Lometa

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

The Mullin Bulldogs usher in the Randy Sims coaching era on the road against the Lometa Hornets Friday night.

After three years as an assistant, Sims is taking over a Mullin program that finished 6-3 overall and 2-2 in District 12-A Division II last year, missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Players to watch for the Bulldogs include Ricky Dela Rosa, a first-team all-district running back and safety who led Mullin in rushing and tackles last year; Jyles Wootton at end; Jaxon Wootton at quarterback; and newcomer Dontrel Dale in the backfield.

Lometa, a member of District 9-A Division I, returns three starters on each side for the ball from a 6-5 playoff team in 2016. The Hornets are led by running back Logan Evans and linemen Mason Moresco, Mason Hines and Javier Felan.

Last year, Lometa defeated Mullin, 66-20.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Mullin is a 45-point underdog.

 

Moran at Sidney

7:30 p.m. Friday

 

Sporting a roster of 14 players, the Sidney Eagles — who were forced to forfeit five games a year ago — look to start 2017 on the right foot against the Moran Bulldogs.

The Eagles will be led by Austin Barrow, who amassed 513 passing yards and seven touchdowns to go along with 225 rushing yards and four scores a year ago. Other players to watch include Josh Kennard and Triston Kelly.

Moran finished as the runner-up in District 11-A Division II behind Strawn last season, posting a 6-4 overall record. The Bulldogs return all six starters on both sides of the ball, including running back Randell Laird (1,140 rushing yards, 26 TDs) and quarterback Chance Cauble (908 passing yards, 15 TDs).

Last year, Moran defeated Sidney, 50-0.

According to sixmanfootball.com, Sidney is a 45-point underdog.