Hallettsville and Yoakum moved into Region III in 2020, but the expectations remained the same.
Yoakum reached the third round for the fourth time in five years and Hallettsville reached the state championships for the first time in school history.
Both teams return over 20 starters as they reload for yet another playoff run.
“We’re trying to project to the team that this is a different team,” said Hallettsville head coach Tommy Psencik. “We’ve got to stay hungry and stay humble and we’ve got to find a way to outwork our opponents. I don’t want to live on last year’s success.”
Hallettsville, the district champion, loses star running back Jonathon Brooks but linebacker Price Pruett returns to lead the Brahmas defense. Defensive end Lance Bludau and lineman Sam Hermes will also help anchor the defense.
Trace Patek returns at quarterback as Damani Hartwell and Cam’ron Alamilla compete for the running back spot.
“We’ve got several places in several positions we’ve got to find people that prove themselves in those positions,” Psencik said. “We feel like we’ve got a good core coming back, but our work habits have to be second to none for us to have the success we want to have.”
Yoakum went 9-3 in 2020, losing 38-22 to Columbus in the regional semifinals.
Cavan Smith is expected to take over at quarterback. Trace Moore and Jayden Jones will split time at running back and in the secondary. Linebacker Javon Williams will lead the Bulldogs defense.
Yoakum head coach Bo Robinson declined to comment.
Hallettsville and Yoakum begin the season ranked No. 10 and No. 12 in Class 3A, Division I, respectively, but will have to go through No. 11 Columbus, a district foe the Brahmas and Bulldogs have faced in the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Columbus coach Matt Schobel begins year three with linemen Hunter Mangum, Oscar Ramirez and Daegan Stevens anchoring the Cardinals roster.
Tommy Schobel leads the defense while Jordan Woods, Ty’Vone Whitehead and Ni’Jay Johnson will split time at running back for the graduated Kion Hurd.
“What’s been real good this year is we had a spring with all of the kids in there,” Matt Schobel said. “So we’re real excited about this year, we obviously graduated some great players but we got some good pieces coming back and we’ve got some young guys we’re excited about.”