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Football looks to stifle Lee Rebels at home

The football team takes the field tonight at Ranger Stadium against Midland Lee Rebels. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m,.

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The football team takes the field tonight at Ranger Stadium against Midland Lee Rebels. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m,.

Jackson Posey, Sports Writer

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Football opens with big hopes, after going 10-2 last season and returning senior QB Levi Williams (123/222 for 2,111 yards and 25 TDs), who is committed to Houston.

Leading rusher Marc Franco (399 yds, 4TDs) also returns for his senior season. In addition to Williams and Franco, the team brings back sophomore RB Darlington Frasch, who averaged 5.3 YPC before sufffering a gruesome femur injury.

Outside of the star-studded backfield, however, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Only eight other starters return, including defensive contributors such as Trey Witcher and WIll Gibbons. But leading defensive players like Jacob Zuber, Brady Chubb, and CJ Kuehler are gone, and leave gaping holes in their wake.

Now, that’s not to say that there isn’t talent coming up through the pipeline. Last year’s junior varsity squad went undefeated (9-0-1), and some of that team’s contributors will have key roles on this year’s varsity squad.

And by key roles, we are talking bigroles – Treveon Moehrig-Woodard, for example, played key roles as a receiver, defensive back and returner last season, and he’s off to TCU.

With further development for those coming back, as well as an injection of fresh talent under longtime coach Larry Hill, there’s no reason to expect anything less than last year’s district-topping performance. Last season saw SV put up eight games of 35 or more points. Even approaching that number would make the Rangers largely unbeatable.

Don’t get it twisted, though – this is no cupcake. The Midland Lee Rebels went 10-3 last year and bring back star running back Josh Traylor, who paced the team with 1,443 rushing yards while chipping in 18 TDs. They also return a standout duo of receivers: 6-foot-3 Sheldon Bass Jr. (39 catches for 621 yards and 6 TDs), whose father (of the same name) played and Odessa Permian and Texas Tech, and cousin, Roy Williams, played at the University of Texas and was a pro bowl safety in the NFL; and 6-foot-5 Loic Fouonji (5 TDs, 22.6 YPC), who also fills the role of kick returner.

The Rebels will have to replace record-setting QB Colby Standard, who set the bar high this past season with 3,816 total yards. Senior QB Felix Hinojosa is expected to replace him, although he is far from a lock to win it over sophomores Shemar Davis and Mikey Serrano. The offensive line could struggle as well, with all five starters graduating, as well as linebacker, a group which loses second team all-state (and Air Force enrollee) Isaiah Nunez. On the inside of that 3-4, though, look for Michael Hinajosa (79 tackles with 12 for loss) to make a big impact. Safety Karl Taylor also had an incredible season last year, with 92 tackles (eight for loss), three passes defended and a pick. Williams will have a heavy burden picking his way through Taylor’s No-Fly Zone.

OBSERVATIONS: Smithson Valley’s offense has the potential to be one of the most potent in the state. Midland Lee, on the other hand, has a star-studded defense and a deep defensive line that could be vie for the best defense in the state. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Either something has to give… or the other sides of the ball will be the determining factor.  Smithson Valley’s defense should win over the Midland Lee offense. Hill’s 4-3 defense has stood the test of time and is being flooded with an influx of new talent from that undefeated junior varsity squad. Furthermore, the Rebels lose half of their running back tandem, and without a QB who has proven to be consistently reliable, there might be no one to throw to Batman and Robin on the outsides. The defense can carry them far past respectability, but they’ll have to prove the offense can do the same.

 

 

 

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