New Coach, New Year Brings Hope for Ballinger's 2017 Season
BALLINGER, TX-- Last season, the Ballinger Bearcats snuck into the playoffs with a 4-7 record overall and a 2-2 record in district 3-3A D2. This year, the Bearcats get a new coach in former Brady Head Coach Chuck Lipsey. Lipsey compiled an 11-11 record while leading the Bulldogs. He also gets 12 returning starters from a year ago, which should poise the Bearcats well for this upcoming season.
"[Practice] has gone well," Lipsey said. "We just need to stay healthy and we'll be fine."
Lipsey is no stranger to West Texas, as he graduated from Mason High School and Angelo State University.
Last season, Hagen Garvin took the snaps for the Bearcats. This season, however, the Bearcats are without Garvin following his transfer to Yoakum, the State runner-up a year ago in 3A D1. "When I showed up in May, I was thinking 'oh my gosh, I need to find a quarterback,'" Lipsey mentioned with a slight chuckle. The Bearcats are trying out four guys at quarterback during preseason practices. The three who have really stood out are brothers Edgar and Xavier Nunez, and Jaden Coy.
While Coach Lipsey has not made a final decision as to who will start in their season opener against Comanche, he did mention how he liked the idea of having Xavier taking snaps and putting his speedy brother, Edgar, as the slot receiver.
Ballinger returns a solid group of starters from a year ago. That experience, coupled with a rough non-district schedule against the likes of Comanche, Mason, and Merkel could cultivate a Bearcat team into a contender for the district title.
Heading up the returners on the line will be senior offensive guard/defensive tackle Jace King. King, measuring 5-foot-11 and 280 pounds, will be in his fourth year starting for the Bearcats. His experience should translate well when it comes to play in the trenches for Ballinger.
The Bearcats also return some experience and speed to their secondary with Deaundre Manley, who also plays receiver. "It's good having [Deaundre] back there," Lipsey said. "He's got speed and experience, so it should be good for us."
This Bearcat team struggled on the road last year, going 0-5 in away games. With the experience returning, that should turn around in 2017. Ballinger goes 5-5 overall in Chuck Lipsey's first year, with a 3-1 record in district 3-3A D2. The Bearcats start the season at home against Comanche on September 1 at 7:30 p.m.