It’s the time of year where small Texas towns are abuzz with anticipation of high school football season. In Dime Box, that buzz has reached a fever pitch for the first time.
The Longhorns will field a 6-man team in 2019, the first in school history, and the excitement surrounding the program is through the roof before its even played its first game.
Dime Box will play a half-season outlaw schedule this season, with its first game set for 7 p.m. Friday at Bellville Faith Academy. If there is enough support for the program after its inaugural season, the Longhorns will enter UIL realignment in the spring and play in a new district beginning in 2020. So far, so good on that front.
The Longhorns have 17 players on their roster, exceptional turnout for a 6-man squad at a school with roughly 50 students, and the support extends beyond the team to faculty, administration and the community. A solid contingent of about 50 fans even made the trek to McDade for Dime Box’s first scrimmage.
“I’ve never been at a scrimmage where you actually had fans,” Dime Box head coach Rick Frey said. “The support from the school and community has been extremely positive.”
With so many kids never having played football before, Frey and his coaching staff started fall camp teaching fundamentals from how to carry a football to wrapping up on tackles. The Longhorns quickly picked up the basics and even surprised coaches with how well they’ve performed in the preseason. Dime Box outscored McDade, a likely future district opponent, in the live portion of the scrimmage with several players emerging as potential focal points this season.
Sophomore Michael Cox had an excellent showing on defense, including a pick-six to seal the Longhorns’ victory in the live portion, and also played well on offense, hauling in a 40-yard touchdown pass. Frey said sophomore CJ Straughter was a “monster on defense,” regularly getting in the backfield and causing disruption in McDade’s offense.
Frey expects senior running back Ray Gilbert to have an excellent season, and Gilbert showed reason for the coach’s confidence with approximately 160 yards and four TDs in the scrimmage.
“Any of these guys can step up at any time, and that’s what makes us so dangerous,” Frey said.
Junior Jer’Perion Gilbert and sophomore Masyn Spacek are vying for playing time at quarterback. Both are excellent runners, and Frey is pleased with how each is learning the position as well as the offense. With the Longhorns ineligible for the playoffs this season, Frey anticipates both will receive significant playing time, giving each of them valuable experience for next year, when they likely will play a UIL-sanctioned schedule.
With 17 players on his roster, Frey plans to use that approach at most positions, allowing every player to get much-needed experience before next season.
And while winning games, won’t translate to the playoffs this year, Frey is confident in the Longhorns’ ability to compete at a high level.
“I think all the teams that are on our schedule, we can match up with,” Frey said. “I think they’re all winnable games. For us, it’s get better every game. That’s our goal ... to be prepared for next year. But do I think we can run the table? Yes, I do.”
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