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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
ºMedina Valley wins big in its remaining games with Boerne
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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