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Oct. 28, 1998

NO TIME TO RELAX - Billies Need Uvalde Win To Secure Playoff Spot

      This one is shaping up to be a lot tougher than many people think.
      When the Uvalde Coyotes roll into town Friday for a 7:30 p.m. varsity football game at FHS Stadium with league-leader Fredericksburg (3-0), making the playoffs for the fifth straight year will not be on their agenda.
      They'll have other reasons for ruining the Billies' last home game of the regular season.
      Already eliminated as a possible District 28-AAAA playoff contender with two games to go by virtue being 0-3 in league play, the Pack may be motivated by revenge or to play the role of spoiler or both.
      As a spoiler, the Coyotes can help keep Fredericksburg out of the playoffs by defeating FHS on Friday.
      "We're not in it yet," said FHS head coach Jerald Klett on Tuesday about the Billies' playoff chances.
      Even though Fredericksburg is alone in first place ahead of Alamo Heights and Kerrville who are tied for second at 2-1, the FHS varsity could actually come up empty-handed in two weeks under a scenario in which:
      ºThe Billies lose both of their last two regular-season games to Uvalde and Kerrville
      ºAlamo Heights wins its final two games with Kerrville and Boerne.
      ºMedina Valley wins big in its remaining games with Boerne and Uvalde
      Under such a plan, Alamo Heights (4-1) would finish in first place, while Kerrville, Medina Valley and Fredericksburg would be locked in a three-way tie for second (3-2). If both Kerrville and Medina Valley have more positive points than FHS, the Antlers and Panthers would advance into post-season action along with the Mules, while the Billies would stay home.
      "Uvalde has nothing to lose because they're out of it," Klett said, "and they'd feel great upsetting a front-runner like us this weekend."
      He stressed that FHS athletes had better be ready to play here Friday against the Coyotes who have yet to defeat Fredericksburg since the latest series between the two schools began in 1996.
      "Last year, we were down 21-7 and had to come back to win," he said of the Billies' 27-21 victory that saw FHS score two fourth-quarter touchdowns along with an overtime TD.
      And, if Fredericksburg were able to get an early lead here Friday, Klett said the Billies cannot afford to relax, referring to the FHS-Uvalde game in 1996 when the Coyotes nearly caught up three fourth-quarter touchdowns before FHS was able to hold on for a 40-33 win.
      "I told the kids this week that we need to be consistent and control the ball against Uvalde," Klett said. "Instead of being over-confident and complacent, we need to do the things that a championship team is supposed to do, like continuing to get better and finishing out the season strong."
      Even though the Coyotes have not won a game since Sept. 25 when they defeated Class AAAAA Del Rio, 25-21, "they have played everybody tough," said Klett.
      Last week, even without the services of injured starting senior quarterback Dubby Sutherland (5-10, 170), the young Coyote varsity fell to Boerne by just 21-7. The week before that, Alamo Heights fought Uvalde to a 35-20 win after Kerrville sailed to a 39-8 win in a district opener.
      Before that during a tough non-district schedule, in addition to the Del Rio victory, Uvalde defeated Carrizo Springs, 34-21, while falling to Clemens (41-12), Hondo (21-7) and Fox Tech (42-7).
      Under new coach Bob Loomis who came to Uvalde this past summer from three seasons as the head coach at Gregory-Portland, the Coyotes this fall have been learning a new system that involves a double-slot offensive attack and a split-six defense.
      Klett said that the left-handed Sutherland, who's expected to be back this week with a mended shoulder, is the cog in the Coyote offense.
      "He throws the ball well in directing a lot of misdirection plays and counters," the Billie head coach said. "They'll come back with traps, sweeps and bootlegs while throwing in a few screen passes every once in a while."
      Sophomore Tyler Collier (5-7, 160) sports speed running out of the slotback position and is a favorite receiver. Chato Morin (5-7, 180) holds down tailback chores, while Zach Gugliotti (5-11, 186) is especially valued as a blocking back.
      Klett said that Uvalde "mixes it up pretty good," adding that the Coyotes use a lot of "trips and doubles" in their passing attack in addition to running frequent sprint-out plays.
      "We're going to have to be real disciplined in order to take care of the things Uvalde does on offense," he explained, "like when they set you up on sweeps before running a sprint-out play."
      If Sutherland has trouble coming back Friday, Uvalde can still go to junior Brad Moore (5-9, 146) who started last week against Boerne or junior varsity recruit Rowdy Patterson (5-11, 160) who threw a touchdown pass to Collier late in last week's game.
      Coyote backs utilize "a pretty good size line" that sports 210-pound guards and 240-pound tackles along with standout center Sammy Hutchison (190).
      On the other side of the ball, Uvalde's "very quick" defensive unit is anchored by senior linebacker Efrain Barboza (5-8, 192) along with tackles Chato Morin (5-7, 180) and Memo Campos (5-7, 235), defensive ends Zach Gugliotti (5-11, 186) and Jimmy Sanchez (5-9, 184), and linebackers Will Wagner (5-6, 143) and Trevor Shaver (5-6, 140).
      One area in which the Coyotes have particular effectiveness is in their kicking game where fake punts are not unusual. With quarterback Sutherland serving as a blocking back and back-up quarterback Will Wagner serving as the Uvalde punter, anything can happen when the Coyotes line up in punt formation.
      By the same token, Uvalde has been successful this year receiving punts and kickoffs as Collier is adept at picking up a lot of yards returning the football.
      Against Uvalde, the Billies -- who have won their three league games by only 16 total points -- will be trying to improve to 7-2 after winning four straight.
      Close district victories have come against Boerne (15-12), Medina Valley (21-14) and Alamo Heights (27-21) after a 3-2 pre-loop campaign which included wins over Llano (33-0), Bandera (27-7) and Dripping Springs (30-11).
      Fredericksburg's two losses to date came in non-district shut-outs to Clemens (22-0) and Smithson Valley (34-0).
      In district action, Fredericksburg has allowed the fewest points (47) among 28-AAAA's six schools while ranking a close second (121) in points allowed during the overall season to Alamo Heights (118).
      In scoring, the Billies are a distant third (63) in league action behind Heights (98) and Kerrville (92). On the entire season, Fredericksburg has scored 153 points -- well behind front-runner Heights (226) and Kerrville (173).
      Klett said yesterday that just about everyone on the Fredericksburg varsity should be suited up to play here Friday, including offensive right tackle Dale Woerner (6-4, 315) whose broken foot has improved enough to allow him to work out in practice this week.
      "All of our players are going to have to be on their toes against Uvalde," Klett said. "We need to keep up the excitement that we generated in the Alamo Heights win and go on from there to finish out strong."

CONSISTENCY PAYS OFF - Varsity Stuns Alamo Heights 27-21

      After struggling to play consistent football through the first seven weeks of 1998 season action, Fredericksburg's varsity came up with the winning combination when it really needed to here Friday night and defeated pre-season favorite Alamo Heights, 27-21.
      The win helped break up a three-way tie for first place and handed FHS (3-0) sole possession of the lead in 28-AAAA standings because Kerrville Tivy -- the third team along with FHS and Heights to share the league lead last week -- also lost on Friday to Medina Valley, 28-25.
      "We finally put it all together and clicked on all cylinders -- offensively, defensively and in our kicking game," said FHS head coach Jerald Klett of Friday's win that improved FHS to 6-2 on the year.
      Referring to his team's ability against Heights to avoid widespread turnover problems that before Friday had Fredericksburg averaging 3¼ miscues a game, Klett observed, "We only had one pass interception and one missed snap."
      Meanwhile, Billie defenders enjoyed their best night of the season against the run by holding Heights to 80 yards on the ground even as the FHS offensive unit also dominated the Mules in total offense (348-310) and first downs (19-16).
      Fredericksburg's winning blow came late in the contest when, with the clock showing just 2:08 left to play, senior Freddy Cantu threw a halfback pass to Heath Holloway who battled Mule defenders at the goal line for a 22-yard scoring catch.
      The grab, which capped a time-consuming 64-yard drive, was set up nine plays earlier when Billie defender Kaleb Kothe intercepted a Mule pass at the Alamo Heights 36.
      The winning TD was Cantu's fourth of the night as he earlier ran for two TDs and caught one scoring pass.
      Fredericksburg's first score of the night occurred early in the opening period after teammate Manuel Gonzales came up with another Heights' turnover -- a fumble -- at the visitors' 33.
      Six players later, Cantu crossed over from the two with 8:17 left in the period, and then Charles Klein booted his first of three points-after kicks for a 7-0 FHS lead.
      Heights threatened to offset that TD on its ensuing possession, but a stiff Billie defense forced the Mules to give up possession on downs at the FHS 13.
      However, the Mules were not to be denied the next time they got their hands on the ball. As his teammates drove 85 yards on 18 plays, quarterback Wes Sharples scored Heights' first TD on a one-yard dive that was followed by a Mark Montanio PAT kick which knotted up the scoreboard at 7-7 with 4:47 left in the half.
      Even so, the Billies had enough time to counter as Cantu returned Heights' ensuing kickoff 42 yards to set up a nine-play, 52-yard march. Aided by a 32-yard toss from quarterback T.J Theis to Grant Gold, the drive ended when Cantu gathered in a 33-yard Theis toss for the score.
      Klein's follow-up conversion kick put Fredericksburg back in front, 14-7, with 1:29 left before intermission.
      But the halftime rest did nothing to cool down the Mules who scored on their next possession when Sharples completed a 49-yard bomb to Cole Cloud to end a seven-play, 76-yard drive. Montanio next tied it up again at 14-14 on his second of three PAT kicks with 10:11 left in the third period.
      But immediately afterward, Fredericksburg responded with a 73-yard, 13-play scoring effort. After Cantu ran it in from the four, Klein's conversion boot put FHS back in front, 21-14, with 5:03 left in the third period.
      Heights was unsuccessful on its next possession, but soon thereafter the Mules intercepted a Billie pass at the FHS 15. Four plays later, Heights running back Chris Sullivan scored on an eight-yard scamper.
      Montanio provided his final PAT kick with 1:24 left in the third frame to tie up the score for the third time at 21-21.
      After each team tried without success on ensuing possession to dent the other's defenses, the Billies were able to put together their winning fourth-period drive.
      Besides playing a role in all four FHS scores, Cantu also led his teammates in rushing with 124 yards on 26 carries. Theis connected on 10 passes for 175 yards, and Holloway paced Billie receivers with 81 yards on four catches.
      Fredericksburg's 127 yards passing on Friday was a team-high for this season.
      Defensively for FHS, Gonzales was tops in tackle-assisted tackle column at 6-4, while Chris Weirich was 5-1 and Kothe 4-1.
      For Heights, Sharples easily had the best night of the season against FHS by any opposing quarterback as he connected on 13 passes for 226 yards. Mule wide receiver Alex Zweremann led his teammates in catches with five for 102 yards, while Sullivan was Heights' leading ground-gainer at 82 yards on 19 carries.
      In all, the 63 total passes thrown Friday and the 423 yards gained through the air that night were 1998 single-game highs for Fredericksburg and its opponents.
      Friday's win gave the Billies a 3-2 edge in the two school's most-recent gridiron series and broke a two-year Mule victory streak over Fredericksburg.

(To see all the stats go to the schedule section and click on the game)-Sorry not available yet!

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

UP FOR GRABS--Fredericksburg intended receiver Chris Weirich (21) turns into a defender as Travis Lee (88) tips a pass and his Alamo Heights varsity teammate Chris Sullivan waits for a chance to pick it off during Friday night's 28-AAAA showdown at FHS Stadium. The Billies won the clash between first-place teams, 27-21, to take over sole possession of the district lead with two games left in the regular season.

-Standard-Radio Post Photo by Barry Smith

SETTING UP what would be Fredericksburg's winning drive, varsity defender Kaleb Kothe (11) is surrounded by a sea of friendly red shirts here Friday against Alamo Heights as he runs back his second interception in as many weeks. The Billies won the game 27-21, and can now clinch a playoff berth for the fourth straight year with a victory back at home this Friday, Oct. 30, against Uvalde.

-Standard-Radio Post Photo by Barry Smith

HELD UP IN TRAFFIC--Fredericksburg varsity defenders Drew Woerner, left, and Lance Eilers sandwich Alamo Heights quarterback Wes Sharples during a short gain here Friday night. The Billies held the Mules to just 80 yards rushing in the 28-AAAA clash that Fredericksburg won, 27-21, to earn sole possession of first place in district play with a 3-0 league mark.

-Standard-Radio Post Photo by Barry Smith