Through three years of building and a respectable 19-14 overall record, Ballinger coach Chuck Lipsey is at last, getting his program to the level he had hoped for. And the numbers are eyebrow-raising to say the least.
Coming off an 8-3 record a year ago, the Bearcats return nine offensive and eight defensive starters among 18 lettermen, with additional reinforcements being brought up from a 7-3 junior varsity club.
The 2020 campaign could see as many as 30 players on Ballinger’s varsity — a luxury for many clubs at the 3A DII level. They have experience at quarterback, depth at several positions and multiple skill players who are capable of contributing.
“Most of our seniors have been starting for us since they were sophomores,” Lipsey said. “So they’ve got two years under their belt. They improved their sophomore year and they got better last year. … We’ve got a good nucleus of good kids with experience and we’re just hoping we get to play.”
Tops among Ballinger’s key returnees are Adam Winn (6-2, 240), an all-state offensive/defensive lineman, who charted 97 tackles up front a year ago.
Senior Weston Rollwitz (27 catches, 575 yards, 62 tackles) is back and will see time at receiver and defensive back. Other receivers with experience include Bradyn Bowman (11 catches, 200 yards, two TDs) and Joe Marcus Guerrero (eight catches, 180 yards, two TDs).
The trigger man will likely be Tyler Vaughn (670 yards passing, 307 yards rushing, 300 yards receiving), who saw considerable time at quarterback last year after spending the first half of the season as a utility.
The Bearcats will be stout up front on both sides of the ball with senior Eric Toliver (OL/DE, 6-2, 220), junior Markus Castleberry (OL/DL, 6-2, 270) and Aiden Busenlehner (5-10, 220) joining Winn.
Ballinger’s wealth of capable players hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Bearcats were ranked 13th in the state by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine and picked to win District 2-3A DII by the publication.
“I told the kids ‘you still have to work hard, you still have to be prepared and have your ‘A’ game going every Friday night,” Lipsey said. “It’s not just getting picked there. You still have to work and prepare to stay there.”
OUTLOOK: Very Good. The Bearcats are equipped to win their district and do some postseason damage. Just how far they get, however, may have a lot to do with how the pairings shake out. Powerhouses from Canadian (ranked No. 2) by Dave Campbell’s, Abernathy (No. 8) and Childress (No. 15) will all be in the mix in a challenging Region I bracket.
BHS’ GAME OF THE YEAR: It could easily be argued that a home date with Bangs on Oct. 30 will be the most important game on Ballinger’s slate in 2020. But a season finale a week later at Sonora could very well prove more difficult and just as important. Either way, if the Bearcats sweep those two games, they will likely be district champions.
ballinger QUICK FACTS
- Head Coach: Chuck Lipsey (145-82 overall, 19-14 at Ballinger)
- Last Season’s Record: 8-3 overall, 4-2 district
- Lettermen Returning/Lost: 18/10
- Offensive Starters Returning: 9
- Defensive Starters Returning: 8
- Base Offense: Power Spread
- Base Defense: 3-4