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Sept. 2, 1998

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 the field.
      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 Schuessler (QB).
      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 said.
      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 to enlarge)

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AS COACHES from Fredericksburg and Lampasas watch in the background, Billie varsity quarterback T.J. Theis runs a sprint-out pattern while looking downfield for a receiver during Friday night's out-of-town scrimmage with the Badgers. FHS athletes dominated the second of two pre-season practice games and next will officially open the 1998 gridiron campaign back on the road this Friday, Sept. 4, with a 7:30 p.m. non-district game against Llano. -Standard-Radio Post Photo by Terry Collier


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FOOT RACE--Billie ball carrier Chris Weirich breaks loose up the middle for big yardage on a wingback counter during Friday night's scrimmage in Lampasas. Besides the host Badgers, the Fredericksburg varsity contended with high humidity and near-100 temperatures in preparing to open a 10-game regular-season schedule this coming Friday, Sept. 4, in Llano.

-Standard-Radio Post Photo by Terry Collier

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NOT MUCH HERE --Adam Kiehne (70) and another Billie wrap up the Lampasas ball carrier in the Badger backfield Friday night as fellow Billies Barrett Durst and Sergio Dc La Garza help jam up the traffic lane.

-Standard-Radio Post Photo by Terry Collier