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TOUGH OPENER AHEAD: Billies Head To Neighboring Llano Friday To
Match Up With Skilled Yellowjacket Team
If Fredericksburg's 1998 varsity football schedule is really as challenging as it appears
to be, few would disagree that there's probably no more fitting an opponent with which the
Billies could kick off the fall campaign than Llano.
That's because, regardless of whether they are experienced
or young, the Yellowjackets year-in and year-out somehow find a way to put a contender on
Last year was no exception when the Class AAA school swept
district play on the way to posting an 11-1 season that included advancing through the
second round of playoff action.
And, despite the fact that the Jackets graduated 18
lettermen this past spring, including standout quarterback Bradley Kassell, area coaches
and sportswriters are once again picking Llano to win the 27-AAA championship with only
five returning starters (three offense and two defense).
An indication of just how ready Fredericksburg's neighbors
to the north are to step into those shoes will be tested in Llano this Friday when the
Jackets host FHS for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
No one this side of Sandy Creek knows any better that Llano
is --as usual-- for real than FHS head coach Jerald Klett and his staff.
"You better be ready to play when you take the field
against Llano because they will surely line up and get after you," Klett said after
he and fellow FHS coaches scouted this past Thursday's Jacket scrimmage against Eldorado.
He said Llano is "real quick" and added that the
Billie offense will have to work hard to pick up blitzes and stunts the Jackets' 5-2
monster defense is sure to use against them in Friday's season-opener.
"As usual, they are very physical," Klett said,
adding that on offense the Jackets use a lot of play action in throwing the ball well.
But running the ball is what works best for Llano head
coach Karl McCormick and his team, with sweeps, power plays and counters accounting for
most of Llano's offensive strategy.
"They execute real well," the Billie coach added
of the pro-I Jacket offensive attack. It should be an interesting ball game."
Mainstays in the Llano arsenal include senior quarterback
Zach Vassar (5-11, 160) who Klett describes as "a real competitor".
Other all-district candidates include Ryan Willmann
(TE-LB), Michael Hays (FB-DT), Clay Rushing (C-LB), Jason Freeman (TB-CB) and Chandler
Among the promising newcomers are Aaron Rode (TB-D B),
Robert Wright (T), Danny Rhea (T), Brandon Lowe (G-E), David Bush (G-E), Kevin Gatliff
(C-LB) and Jason Linney (TE-DE).
Fredericksburg will go into the Llano opener after faring
well in the Billies' last pre-season scrimmage this past Friday in Lampasas.
"I thought the kids did a real good job and stayed
with it despite the humid, near-100-degree temperatures they had to play in over
there," Klett said.
He said all the weight lifting and conditioning performed
by the Billies over the past few weeks seems to have paid off.
"Our kids have taken pride in getting into shape for
this season; they really didn't run out of gas in Lampasas," the FHS head. coach
Still, he said the Fredericksburg varsity has "some
things to work out".
Miscues in the first series, including snap count problems,
fumbles and dropped passes, resulted in a slow start for the first string.
"We just need to work on getting started a little
better, although our execution got better the longer we played," said Klett who added
that FHS needs to be able to work on driving the ball better.
He explained that the Billie varsity has already
demonstrated that it can score on the big play. "We just need to move the ball with
more consistency to insure greater success as the season goes along," he said.
During the course of Friday's scrimmage in Lampasas,
Fredericksburg's first string accounted for two touchdowns and held the Badgers scoreless,
while the second-string Billie unit also dominated scoring, 3-0.
"If we can avoid mental mistakes and keep building our
intensity, we should do well," Klett said.
However, on Friday the Billies will have to do without the
service of starting offensive tackle Dale Woerner who is expected to be out of action for
seven weeks after sustaining a fracture over the weekend when a calf stepped on his foot.
Meanwhile, senior defensive end Sergio De La Garza during
practice on Monday aggravated an old hamstring pull, and junior wingback-defensive back
Chris Weirich received a hairline wrist fracture over the weekend.
After this weekend's visit to Llano, the Fredericksburg
varsity will play their home-opener on Sept. 11 (Parents' Night) against Bandera.
After that come three tough pre-district bouts against
Smithson Valley (there, Sept.16), Clemens (there, Sept.25) and Dripping Springs
(Homecoming, Oct. 2).
A chance to get things off on a winning note toward
capturing their school's fourth straight district championship ensues the following week
when the Billies host Boerne on Oct. 9.
From there, the schedule doesn't get any easier as FHS must
take on four more potential playoff contenders in Medina Valley (there, Oct. 16), Alamo
Heights (here, Oct, 23), Uvalde (here, Oct. 30) and Kerrville (there, Nov. 6).
All 10 FHS varsity games will be played on Friday nights
starting at 7:30p.m., while junior varsity and freshmen games will get underway at varying
times each Thursday night.
This Thursday, Sept. 3, will find the Billie jayvee unit
hosting Llano in a 6 p.m. game at FHS Stadium.
However, because Llano does not have a freshman team this
season, the Fredericksburg freshman team will make a departure from the original 1998
schedule by traveling on Thursday to San Antonio to play Alamo Heights' fish at 4:30 p.m.
on the Mules' practice field.
(Click on pictures