Tiger football’s road to the playoffs

Teams the Tigers will face this season
With the football season only a few days away, we at the News-Dispatch offer a breakdown of who the Dripping Springs Tigers will face in 2018. Below is this season’s schedule and a little info about the opponents the Tigers will face. Keep in mind this year’s bye, or open, week is Sept. 28. Some information gathered for this piece derived from maxpreps.com and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.  (* denotes district game)

vs. Kerrville Tivy
(Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium)
Last season – 10-3, 6-1 in 26-5A
Playoffs? Yes – L to Corpus Christi Calallen in regional quarterfinal
Dripping Springs will get an early-season test when it hosts an experienced Kerrville Tivy team that’s slated to be a contender in the new 5A, Division II. Tivy returns dual threat quarterback Karson Valverde, who accounted for 1,988 of Tivy’s 5,398 all-purpose yards. Surrounding Valverde will be junior wide receiver Jacob Vela and sophomore Taylor Pannell. On the defensive side, Tivy will have to fill the gaps for a defense that last season limited opponents to 22 points over the course of 12 games. According to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Tivy will only have two starters return from last season’s team.

@ Hays Rebels
(Sept. 7 at Bob Shelton Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)
Last season – 4-7, 3-3 in 25-6A
Playoffs? Yes – L to San Antonio Reagan in bidistrict
Change is the operative word for the Hays Rebels, who not only welcome a new head coach, but also a new system on offense. Les Goad, who led Geronimo Navarro to success in 4A, brings to Hays the use of the run-oriented Slot-T offense. Guiding the Rebels will be senior quarterback Xavier Martinez, who will have various weapons helping him out, including running backs Sam Scott and Nate Tate. The Rebel offense will look to find answers on the offensive line, which returns only a handful from last year’s team that rushed for over 2,500 yards. However, Hays will work with a defense that could be inexperienced. Only two starters return from last season’s team.

vs. New Braunfels Canyon
(Sept. 14 at Tiger Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)
Last season – 2-8, 2-5 in 27-6A
Playoffs? No
For a second straight week, Dripping Springs will take on a team working through a coaching change. Joe Lepsis, who led Wylie East a year ago, takes over the Cougar football program and inherits a team that returns roughly half of its starters from 2017. Included in that list is quarterback Zavier Perez and wide receiver Callon Farr, who were the one-two combination for Canyon last season. Canyon will also have Seth Haney in the backfield, along with running back Owen Worley. Canyon will attempt to fix a defense that conceded 32 points per game.

@ Travis Rebels
(Sept. 21 at Burger Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)*
Last season – 1-9, 0-6 in 25-5A
Playoffs – No
The Tigers begin district play against a Travis Rebel team looking to rebound from a one-win season in 2017. They’ll hope to do so with an offense that brings back most of its starters, including running back Darian McFerrin, who rushed for 495 yards and four touchdowns last season. However, last season’s team only tallied 66 total points in ten games. They’ll also bring with them a defense that conceded 44 points per game.

@ McCallum Knights
(Oct. 5 at House Park, 7:30 p.m.)
Last season, 14-1, 6-0 in 25-5A
Playoffs? – Yes, L to College Station in state semifinal
Not much returns for the McCallum Knights following last season’s amazing playoff run. But even with a new head coach and a practically new roster, McCallum stands to be one of several critical district tests for Dripping Springs. One of the primary challenges for the Knights will be finding answers to an offense that lost most of its potent weapons. Wide receiver Deron Gage, who collected over 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns receiving, could be an anchor for McCallum’s offense. The same could be said for a defense that returns only a handful of athletes.

vs. LBJ Jaguars
(Oct. 12 at Tiger Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)*
Last season – 7-5, 4-2 in 25-5A
Playoffs? Yes, L to Dripping Springs in the bidistrict round
A perennial first-round playoff opponent for Dripping Springs in recent years will now become a formidable district foe for the next two seasons. With half of its starters coming back for 2018, LBJ stands to be another major district hurdle for the Tigers. Dripping Springs will contend with an LBJ offense that’s historically been explosive. They’ll have to do so with several new pieces, which includes finding a new quarterback. In the backfield, LBJ returns Brian Batts, who led the team with 779 yards and 8 touchdowns. It could also be an emotional season for LBJ, which will play in honor of late head coach Andrew Jackson, who passed away due to cancer in late 2017.

vs. Lanier
(Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)
Last season – 2-8, 1-5 in 25-5A
Playoffs? No
A challenging road might get a little tougher for Lanier, which will try to put a dismal two-win season in 2017 behind them. They’ll try to do so with several returning pieces, including running back Khile Shores, who rushed for 205 yards and two scores, along with sophomore linebacker Victor Evans, who recorded 22 total tackles in 2017. It could be a tall task for Lanier, which gave up 39 points per game, while only scoring 12 last year.

@ Seguin
(Oct. 26 at Matador Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)*
Last season – 2-8, 1-6 in 26-5A
Playoffs? No
The third year for Seguin head coach Travis Bush could be one of his best yet as he tries to turn around a Matador program that’s only won seven games over the past three seasons. Leading that charge could be senior quarterback Aaron Gonzalez, who amassed over 1,600 yards passing in eight games last year and finished with 13 touchdowns. But also in the mix could be junior Jhared Mickles, who played in ten games and threw for 910 yards with six scores. But the Matadors will be tasked with finding answers in the backfield, as the majority of production from a year ago has graduated. Mickels and Gonzalez could be called upon to run the ball this season as well. On defense, Seguin returns eight players from a group that gave up over 40 points per game.

vs. Reagan Raiders
(Nov. 2 at Tiger Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)*
Last season – 2-8, 2-4 in 25-5A
Playoffs? No
Following a woeful 2017 campaign, Reagan aims to improve with a roster that returns half of its returning players. Junior quarterback David Rivera leads an offense that also brings back senior running back Vontrey Harper. The duo accounted for 611 of the team’s 1,410 all-purpose yards last year. But can the Raiders put points on the board? Last season’s team scored a paltry 55 total points on the year, while giving up 36 points per game.

@ Crockett Cougars
(Nov. 8 at Burger Stadium, 7:30 p.m.)*
Last season – 3-8, 3-3 in 25-5A
Playoffs? Yes, L to Kerrvile Tivy in bidistrict round
Despite some bumps in the road, Crockett did just enough last season to warrant a playoff spot, due in part to key wins over Reagan and Travis. The Cougars will try to replicate the same success with a team that returns a majority of its players in 2018. Finding a new quarterback, however, will be imperative as the team tries to replace the output of dual-threat quarterback Ryan Waugh, who graduated this summer. Senior Nick Baca, who rushed for 535 yards and three scores in 2017, will lead the rushing offense. On the defensive side, Silvestre Lopez, who accounted for 22 tackles last year, leads the Cougar defense in his senior season.

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