BROWN COUNTY GAMES
Blanket Tigers (0-0)
vs. Abbott Panthers (0-0)
6 p.m. Friday — Richland Springs’ Coyote Field
2006 Result: Did not meet last season
The Blanket Tigers will be making their second straight appearance at the Coyote Kickoff Classic, where they are hoping for a better result after opening the 2006 season with a 62-12 loss to Blum.
The Tigers return four offensive and four defensive starters from last year’s 4-6 team, which actually won six games but two were forfeited.
Zach Isham and Neil Dove are expected to lead the Blanket offense after rushing for a combined 844 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Dove also threw for 264 yards and caught 10 passes for 245 yards, while Isham had 18 catches for 150 yards.
Isham and James Nance, all-region linebackers a year ago, are also back to anchor the defense.
Abbott went 9-2 last season and finished second to Blum in District 12. The Panthers return four offensive and five defensive starters from that squad.
Rising Star Wildcats (0-0)
at Brookesmith Mustangs (0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday — Mustang Field
2006 Result: Brookesmith 60, Rising Star 14
The Clint Lowry era begins in Brookesmith while the Darrian Dover building project hopes to pay dividends for Rising Star.
Lowry — Brookesmith’s third head coach in four seasons — takes over for Eric Clawson, who led a senior-laden Mustangs squad to a 7-4 record and its first playoff appearance in nearly a decade.
Brookesmith returns just two lettermen from last year’s squad, but Lowry hopes the Mustangs develop in time to make a push for a playoff spot in Six-Man Division I District 15.
Among the players to keep an eye on for Brookesmith are Weston Patterson, Caleb Steel, Michael Watkins, Cody Watkins, Alex Mackey and Derek Ferguson.
Dover enters his fourth season with the Wildcats, and Rising Star is looking to end a two-year playoff drought after finishing second in district in 2004. The Wildcats will have to count on a blend of veterans and newcomers if they intend to have success in 2007.
Rising Star will be counting on a couple of seniors to lead the offense in quarterback Lucko Self and tailback Faustino Aguilera. Freshmen backs Alec Apple and Dale Self could also work themselves into the mix.
Woodson Cowboys (0-0)
at May Tigers (0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday — Tiger Field
2006 Result: May 48, Woodson 14
The May Tigers began a perfect 10-0 regular season with a 34-point win at Woodson last year and hope to have similar success in the rematch Friday night.
The Tigers return five lettermen from last year’s team, including three offensive and five defensive starters.
Junior Nathan Howard will lead the offensive attack after amassing 2,069 yards and 34 touchdowns combined rushing and passing during his sophomore season. May averaged over 50 points per game during the regular season in 2006.
Defensively, Howard, Mikey Dickerson, Conner Murphree and Ian Jacobson will be among those leading the charge. The Tigers allowed a total of 40 points in their first nine games last season.
Woodson advanced to the Six-Man Division II state quarterfinals last season after winning District 10 with a flawless 5-0 mark. The Cowboys finished 8-5 overall and return five starters on both sides of the ball from the squad.
Among the players to watch are quarterback Jared Hutchens and running backs Robert Perez and Caleb Hagle.
Zephyr Bulldogs (0-0)
vs. Rochelle Hornets (0-0)
8 p.m. Friday — Richland Springs’ Coyote Field
2006 Result: Rochelle 32, Zephyr 16
Originally scheduled to take place at Rochelle, the season opener for the Zephyr Bulldogs is now part of the second annual Coyote Kickoff Classic.
The game was moved due to Rochelle’s new field house not being complete, and both coaches agreed to shift the game to Richland Springs, which had an opening after the Cherokee-Arlington St. Alban’s game was cancelled.
Zephyr’s opener will mark the beginning of the Landon Buffe era, the Bulldogs’ new head coach who took over for Robert Lee.
The Bulldogs welcome back three starters on each side of the ball from last year’s 7-5 Six-Man Division II, District 14 championship team.
Zephyr’s offense is led by Chris Newton, who chalked up 2,039 yards and 28 touchdowns passing and rushing last year.
Defensively, Cord Biddy returns after tallying a team-high 109 tackles for the Bulldogs in just 11 games.
Rochelle went 7-3 last year, but 2-2 in District 15 of Six-Man Division I and missed the playoffs. The Hornets return nine lettermen, including one defensive and four offensive starters.
Victory Life Academy Warriors (0-0)
vs. Dickinson Pine Drive Christian (0-0)
1 p.m. Saturday — Richland Springs’ Coyote Field
2006 Result: First season for Victory Life
The Victory Life Academy Warriors will make history Saturday as they take the field for their first-ever football game.
The Warriors are under the direction of head coach Steve Schwing, a former official who is coaching for the first time.
Among the players to watch for Victory Life are Trey Valencia and Frankie Valencia, former members of the Brownwood Lions program, and Daniel Coronado, who played in the Bangs system.
The Pine Drive Christian Eagles, based out of Dickinson, return four offensive and five defensive starters from last year’s 4-7 team that finished 1-4 in district.
The Eagles’ offense is led by running back Josh Gibson (1,370 yards rushing and 26 TDs in 2006) and wide receiver Kevin Ward (16 catches, 451 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006).
Austin King led the Pine Drive defense with 81 tackles last year while Jason Riley intercepted seven passes.
OTHER NON-DISTRICT GAMES
No. 7 Coleman Bluecats (0-0)
at Brady Bulldogs (0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday — Bulldog Stadium
2006 Result: Coleman 48, Brady 0
The No. 7 Coleman Bluecats will attempt to live up to their preseason ranking as they head to Brady for the season opener Friday night.
The Bluecats welcome back eight offensive and defensive starters from last year’s 9-4 team that reached the third round of the playoffs.
Among the returnees for the Bluecats are running back Bronson Buzzard, who rushed for 1,129 yards and 15 touchdowns; quarterback Colton Buzzard, who threw for 1,340 yards and 12 touchdowns; and receiver Dalton Deleon, who caught 41 passes for 664 yards with six scores.
Defensively, linebacker Stanley Cole also returns after recording 151 tackles, including 25 sacks and three interceptions.
Brady returns 16 lettermen, including six offensive and five defensive starters, from last year’s 1-9 team.
Prennis Williams, District 8-2A’s offensive newcomer of the year, is among the returnees. He rushed for 841 yards and five TDs last season. Also, quarterback Ruben Resendez threw for 615 yards and two touchdowns, while linebacker Luke Sammons racked up 82 tackles last season.
Junction Eagles (0-0)
at San Saba Armadillos(0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday — Rogan Field
2006 Result: Junction 26, San Saba 21
With four wins in his previous three seasons, San Saba head coach Joel Johnson will attempt right the ship for the Armadillos as they enter the 2007 campaign on the heels of a season-ending victory.
The Armadillos lost only five lettermen from last year’s 2-8 squad and return nine offensive and 10 defensive starters.
Quarterback John Henry is again in charge of the offense after rushing for 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns, while passing for 1,486 yards and 11 more scores.
Leading receiver Casey Phillips is also back after hauling in 49 receptions for 489 yards and two touchdowns.
Junction picked up a 26-21 win over San Saba in the season opener last year en route to a 6-4 record and 2-3 district mark in District 8-2A.
The Eagles return four offensive and six defensive starters, including defensive tackles Phillip Stapp and Carl Whitworth, who combined for 101 tackles and five sacks last year.
Running back/defensive back Dustin Stapp was the 8-2A defensive newcomer of the year with 120 tackles while racking up 354 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
No. 7 Goldthwaite Eagles (0-0)
vs. Irion County Hornets(0-0)
6 p.m. Saturday — San Angelo Stadium
2006 Result: Goldthwaite 48, Irion County 8
The No. 7 Goldthwaite Eagles, fresh off an undefeated regular season in 2006, look to start on the same positive note Saturday night against the Irion County Hornets.
The Eagles and Hornets are meeting in the opener for the fourth straight season, and Goldthwaite owns a 2-1 advantage.
Goldthwaite welcomes back six offensive and five defensive starters from last year’s team, including near 1,000-yard rusher Wade Clifton and 13-A newcomer of the year Walt Clifton.
Wade Clifton ran for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Walt Clifton amassed 582 yards rushing and six touchdowns.
The Eagles defense returns three players with at least 70 tackles — defensive tackle Bo Lindsey (101 tackles, 10 for loss), linebacker Michael Williams (91 tackles, 15 for loss, 5 sacks) and Walt Clifton (74 tackles).
Irion County is projected to compete for a playoff spot in District 16-A this year after winning just one league game a year ago.
The Hornets have seven offensive and six defensive starters back. Receiver Garrett Barnett is moving to quarterback while running back Brent West returns after rushing for 737 yards and seven touchdowns.
Cross Plains Buffaloes (0-0)
at Bronte Longhorns (0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday — Longhorn Stadium
2006 Result: Bronte 21, Cross Plains 12
New Cross Plains head coach Jim Sides will attempt to get the Buffaloes’ season off on a winning note after the team posted an 0-10 record in 2006.
The Buffaloes, who have won only twice in the past three seasons, just missed out on a victory in the season opener against Bronte a year ago.
Cross Plains has just six lettermen back from last year’s team, which gives Sides the opportunity to build the program from scratch.
Among the players to watch for the Buffaloes are tight ends Brice Bowden and Joe Dalton Wyatt, running back J.J. Callaway and receiver Reese Allen.
Bronte went 5-5 last season with a 3-4 record in District 16-A. The Longhorns have five offensive and six defensive starters back from that team.
Linebacker Reece Springer led the defense with 83 tackles a year ago, while an offensive line consisting of C.J. McClure, Cody Wallace and Larry Rosales — among others — is expected to be the team’s strength.
Coolidge Yellow Jackets (0-0)
at Santa Anna Mountaineers (0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday — Mountaineer Field
2006 Result: Santa Anna 60, Coolidge 12
The post-Ben McIver era begins for the Santa Anna Mountaineers as head coach Lloyd Fields must find a way to replace 4,501 yards and 76 touchdowns rushing and passing from a season ago.
Among the top candidates to fill the offensive void are Terrance Jackson, Jordan Whaley and Chris Tate.
Receiver Demetrus Reese is back after suffering a knee injury during basketball season that required major surgery. Reese caught 43 passes for 796 yards with 16 touchdowns en route to an all-region selection last year.
Defensively, Fausto Maldonado will anchor the unit at linebacker after posting 138 tackles last year. Whaley and Jackson were both all-district safeties who recorded 100 and 91 tackles, respectively.
The Mountaineers are also looking for their third straight playoff appearance after ending a 17-year drought in 2005.
Coolidge finished second in Six-Man Division I District 11 action a year ago despite an overall record of 4-6.
The Yellow Jackets are expecting vast improvement, however, as five starters return on each side of the ball. Coolidge started the 2006 season at 1-5, but won three straight to make the postseason.
Veribest Falcons (0-0)
at Mullin Bulldogs (0-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday — Bulldog Field
2006 Result: Mullin 45, Veribest 44
Mullin and Veribest opened the 2006 season with a nail-biter and both teams hope they have improved enough to have a little more breathing room as they pursue their first win of the 2007 season.
The Bulldogs return just three letterman and one starter on each side of the ball from last year’s 5-5 squad that came up one win shy of the playoffs.
Mullin will rely on veterans Austin McCulloch, an all-state defensive back who racked up 87 tackles, and Alan Maxey, who is moving to running back after competing 37-of-55 passes for 431 yards and four touchdowns last year, for leadership.
Newcomers expected to make an impact include sophomores Randy Sims, Brandon Foster and Zack Maxey.
The Falcons are coming off a 2-7 campaign and have three offensive and two defensive starters returning..
Leading the way for Veribest will be running back Brian Scott, who chalked up 1,821 yards rushing..
Friday’s game will mark the debut of new Falcons head coach Currie McWilliams, who comes to Veribest from Buckholts.