This time of year the itch for football seemingly creeps upon fans, players and coaches alike. The media is not immune either.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football recently hit newsstands recently with — whom else — Johnny Manziel donning the cover. The publication receives contributions from sports writers across the state, including the Daily Record’s own Tyler Mayforth, and analyzes Texas college and high school football teams’ prospects for the season.
Area high schools (San Marcos, San Marcos Academy, Wimberley, Hays and Lehman) are each predicted to have mixed seasons, according to the publication.
Rattlers ready to defy odds
After a one-win season (1-9, 0-5) in 2012, SMHS was picked to finish last in District 25-5A this season. Head coach Mark Soto, entering his second year at San Marcos, aims to make significant strides in 2013.
The Rattlers received little respect from Dave Campbell’s, but it’s just words on paper to Soto.
“As long as we are respecting ourselves and our community respects us, that is the only respect we need,” Soto said. “Yeah, it would be great to be on top of the list, but those things don’t mean anything, even if you are on top of the list.
“Dave Campbell himself never walked into my office and asked me what I thought about our San Marcos Rattlers. If he would of, I would have told him we were No. 1.”
The Rattlers’ 30-20 win over Victoria East was their only victory last season. The bar is set high with Soto’s goal of a playoff run, but chances for improvement are as well.
“Our goal is to raise expectations,” Soto said. “We expect to get in the playoffs, work hard and win ball games.”
San Marcos welcomes back 12 total starters from last year, including eight on offense. Having a senior quarterback to lead Soto’s team will certainly help.
Zack Sterling, one of more than 20 seniors expected to return to the Rattlers’ football team, threw for 658 yards and five touchdowns last season. The Rattlers also return district-leading rusher Jonoah Fabian for his senior season.
“Having a senior bunch and a group of young kids, who are well excepted by the seniors is turning into a great brotherhood that is going to prove to have success,” Soto said. “What really helps is the work ethic these kids have developed.
“We came here and we knew that these kids work hard. We put them through one of the toughest offseasons in the state of Texas and they rose to every challenge that we gave them.”
Like any new football regime, there was an adjustment period last season for both players and coaches. One more year in the Soto system will give players a chance to be more instinctive rather than reactive.
“We’ve got our offense and defense in place and coaches know what we’re doing now,” said Soto. “So the second year should go a lot smoother and we should get a lot more results. We’re going to be San Marcos. We’re a tight-knit bunch that stays together and it doesn’t matter what people say about us.”
SMA primed for repeat season
As part of TAPPS Division II, District 3, San Marcos Academy is projected to finish seventh, just ahead of Austin-St. Dominic Savio.
Coach Les Davis’ team returns nine starters from last year’s 4-6, 1-6 squad. Players to watch are Tanner McGill (quarterback), Donovan Jackson (offensive lineman), Benjamin Billings (wide receiver) and sophomore Christian Wilson (running back).
New era begins for Wimberley
The departure of two-time state championship-winning coach Weldon Nelms may have an impact on the Wimberley Texans’ run to another title. That, however, doesn’t change Wimberley’s chances of winning district and making the playoffs, according to the publication.
Wimberley is projected to finish first in District 27-3A. New head coach Doug Warren has 11 starters returning from last season’s 8-4, 5-0 team.
Texans to watch this season are seniors West Lambert (running back/linebacker), Jackson King (defensive tackle), Triston Moore (offensive lineman), Alex Mireles (defensive back) and junior quarterback Colton Cerday.
Rebels hope for same success
The Hays Rebels will be led by former San Antonio-Roosevelt coach Neal LaHue, entering his first season with the program. He inherits eight returning starters from last year’s 10-2, 6-1 area finalist team.
Hays is projected to finish third in District 27-4A, behind Kerrville-Tivy and San Antonio-Alamo Heights.
Players to watch in 2013 are seniors Daniel Minor (defensive lineman), Aaron Johnson (linebacker), Banner Steele (tight end), Hayden Cagle (wide receiver), juniors Conner Lanfear (offensive tackle) and Emory Cuzze (linebacker) and sophomore Cody Gandy (running back).
Lobos look for more
Competing in the same district as the Rebels (27-4A), the Lehman Lobos are projected to finish seventh out of eight schools, just ahead of Lockhart.
Beginning his second season at Lehman, head coach Todd Raymond will get eight returning starters from last season’s 2-8, 1-6 team. With Lobo players and personnel getting one more year in Raymond’s system, improvement is likely.
Lobo players to watch this season are seniors Connor Baird (linebacker), Tyler Hyss (linebacker), Tylor Dodero (wide receiver) and Kelton Powell (wide receiver). Top juniors include Jeremy Schilhab (quarterback) and Julian Silguear (offensive lineman). Also watch out for sophomore Justin Bostick, listed as an athlete, to make an impact.