Despite a combined 10-22 record, all three Runnels County high school football programs reached the playoffs in 2018.
In the recently released 59th edition of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, considered the ‘Bible of Texas football,’ two county schools are projected to make a return to the postseason.
The Ballinger Bearcats, coming off a bi-district finalist campaign, are tabbed to place third in the new District 4-3A Division II. Meanwhile, the Winters Blizzards, also bi-district finalists in 2017, are projected to finish fourth in the revamped District 3-2A Division I.
Picked to place fifth, just outside the postseason window, in District 8-2A Division II are the Miles Bulldogs, who also advanced to the playoffs a year ago.
Ballinger (3-8) is projected to finish behind No. 13 Cisco (9-3) and No. 20 Merkel (7-6) in the 4-3A Division II race, and ahead of Anson (5-6), Coleman (3-8), San Angelo TLC (3-7), Grape Creek (1-10) and Bangs (0-10).
Bearcats head coach Chuck Lipsey welcomes back seven starters on each side of the ball, including running back/linebacker Cooper Bean, who rushed for 750 yards and recorded 136 tackles last year. Other players to watch include quarterback/defensive back Edgar Nunez, wide receiver/linebacker Zack Gulley, running back/linebacker/kicker Cody Daily, fullback/linebacker Jayden Rivera, offensive lineman/defensive end Adolf Medina, offensive lineman/defensive end Ashton Belk, wide receiver/defensive back Davian Martinez, wide receiver/defensive back/punter Jordan Fuentes, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Adam Winn, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Hunter Wheeler, running back/wide receiver/defensive back Damian Willborn, fullback/linebacker Roy Aviles, and wide receiver/defensive back Weston Rollwitz.
Winters (5-6) is expected to trail Stamford (10-3), Hawley (8-4), and Ozona (6-5) in the 3-2A Division I standings and finish ahead of Forsan (5-6).
Head coach Matt McCarty brings back eight offensive and eight defensive starters incluing offensive lineman/defensive lineman Patrick Reyes (84 tackles) and fullback/linebacker Nick Brown (five sacks). Other players to watch include quarterback Jovan Young (273 total yards, 2 passing TDs), offensive lineman/defensive lineman Cameron Perkins, running back/linebacker Slater Lindley, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Omar Martinez, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Hunter Duggan, wide receiver/defensive back Sema’jae Jackson, wide receiver/defensive back/ quarterback Miguel Rodriguez, utility athlete Alex Salas, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Hayden Kelly, wide receiver/defensive back David Fernandez, wide receiver/defensive back Mikey Diaz, running back/linebacker Matt Jacob, wide receiver Reagan Rodriguez, wide receiver Domynic Alvarado, and offensive lineman Orlando Ochoa.
The top four teams advance to the playoffs, and Miles is picked behind Menard (9-3), Rocksprings (7-5), Christoval (4-7), and Eldorado (2-8) in 8-2A Division II, and in front of Irion County (4-7).
Head coach Charles Boles inherits eight offensive and six defensive starters, including running back/defensive back Mason Bryan, who amassed 2,000 all-purpose yards including 1,200 rushing with four receiving touchdowns and 85 tackles on defense. Also back for the Bulldogs are offensive lineman Coleton Williams, quarterback Jared Flores and utility athlete Logan Yancy.
Two-a-days begin Aug. 6 with the opening weekend of the regular season scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 1.