FRITCH, TX (KFDA) - As the Sanford-Fritch Eagles approach the 2018 season, they know that Fritch will have their back.
"Being a small school in the state of Texas, of course it shuts down on Friday night. When you're going out of town, I mean, they're turning out the light and traveling with you," said head coach Houston Moos. "I tell the kids every year when we go out to play our games, there's somebody out there who wore that jersey before you, you know. And they're probably hanging on the fence or sitting in the stands or whatever, wherever they're at, watching the football game. And they wanna see that you're not gonna mess it up for them, and they want you to represent it well."
Even though there may be some extra pressure in such a tight-knit town, senior linebacker Brody Williams loves the extra support.
"Growing up with everyone, it's all their family and all their friends coming to watch you." explains Williams. "It just feels like one big family, and when you're going out there on the field, you're having a great time because you know you have the support of the town."
This season in particular, the Eagles are at a slight advantage when it comes to experience.
"We've got 14 lettermen coming back, we got approximately 8 starters on both sides of the ball, which leads to a lot of experience, you know." said Moos.
Although they are not immune to the struggles of small-town football.
"Depth is probably an issue right now, as it is for a lot of teams on our level, you know that's certainly not unique to us." said said Moos. "It's just one of those things that you push through as a coach."
But as a senior, Williams has high hopes for the squad.
"As a team, what I'd like to accomplish is going farther in the playoffs, make it past the first round for sure, and just see how far we can go, and leave an impact on Fritch. Just for other teams to come up and really want to do what we hopefully will accomplish this season," expressed Williams.
Sanford-Fritch opens up their season in Slaton against the Tigers on August 21st.
Friona Chieftains quarterback Marco Monreal has a clear focus on what he hopes to accomplish this season.
"I just want to win. That's it. We got there last season but we weren't able to finish. Just winning is one of the big things were looking forward to this season." said Monreal.
After a disappointing first-round playoff loss for Friona last fall, Coach Jimmy Arias was disappointed, but not discouraged.
"It wasn't the end of the world that we lost because we are building, and these kids have given us a great foundation." explained Arias. "We'll have a lot of youth on our offensive line and leadership at the skill positions. So we feel that the leaders, the older kids, will be able to help the younger kids throughout the season. So we may struggle early on but hopefully by the end of the year we'll be on our strong suit."
Monreal shares the feeling that a good season is ahead.
"I feel really confident because we have a bunch of seniors that are anxious to get a Gold Ball this season." said Monreal. That's one of our main goals, but we know we have to take it one step at a time, one game by game, and with all the leadership we have around, we should be fine."
Arias is entering his 19th season as Friona's head coach, and says this year's team is a special one for many reasons. But changes in the offense are the most notable.
"What stands out is the offenses have changed," said Arias. "We were running a running type of offense, and now we're spread offense, and we're scoring lots of points- which in the old days, that never happened. So it's kinda fun to stand on the sidelines and watch a new type of offense get after it every game."
New offense aside, this season will be especially different for Monreal because of his role as a senior.
"The thing that's really changing for me is now that I'm a senior, I feel like I have to take charge of everything," said Monreal. "I've had to take it this past season. We've had a couple guys, a couple seniors take charge."
But this group of seniors is hungry for a Gold Ball, and that will be what motivates them all season long.
"We wanna be successful, so you should expect a team that's ready to go out and fight for everything," said Monreal. "We've been underdogs forever, but that's what fuels us the most."
Friona opens up their season in Farwell against the Steers on August 31st.