Lions eager for more success in ’23 season


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

When the lights to the stadium are turned on bright, the stands are filled near capacity,  and the pads begin hitting, it takes a certain mindset to perform at a high level.

Lockhart is poised to have another high-level season with experienced players returning from last year’s 8-4 squad that reached the second round of the Texas State Playoffs, but Lions’ Head Coach Todd Moebes knows talk is cheap until grit and determination are on full display on the playing fields.

“It’s great to have the experience that we have coming back who understand Friday night lights,” Moebes said. “It’s certainly glamorous to talk about things, but once you get bullets flying around you, it takes a competitive and emotional maturity to understand to stay poised and stay composed. Not everybody’s perfect. Mistakes are gonna happen. Football is a game of momentum. You’re not gonna have it all the time. How do you handle that when you don’t have it? If you’ve got momentum, you’re trying to keep it, and if you don’t have it, you’re trying to win it back. That’s the game of football. You’ve got to have a mature group in times you don’t have it to be able to fight to make plays and be able to execute when things aren’t going your way to make them start going your way.”

Moebes and his staff are pleased with the Lions’ maturity early in fall practice, but a daunting district slate awaits.

“We’ve been very pleased with our freshmen group,” Moebes said. “In fact, we complimented them on the alignment that we’ve been able to have from their seventh and eighth grade years to our high school program. We’ve seen the benefits of that. We’ve been able to put a lot of information on them. That’s really good. They’re handling it really well. We’ve got a couple that are probably going to be able to help us on Friday nights. We’re excited about their development and how they’ve worked at practice. You can see right now what great football players they’re gonna be as they continue to develop.”

Lockhart gets things started with a preseason scrimmage on Thursday against Medina Valley at Lions Stadium. The action begins at 7 p.m., but don’t expect to see the starters in for a quarter to a half at most. Each team will get eight minutes on offense to see what it can manage. Then, it will be time for the underclassmen to get experience playing under the lights.

Medina Valley finished 5-6 in Class 5A last season, losing in the first round of the state playoffs.

The regular season begins Aug. 25 at San Antonio Southwest. Pflugerville Connally visits Lockhart on Sept. 1, and the Lions open District 13 play on Sept. 8 at Kyle Lehman. There will be one more non-conference schedule game on Sept. 15 at home as the Lions hope to revenge its only non-district loss from a year ago to Davenport.

Lockhart visits Cedar Creek Sept. 22, plays host to San Antonio Veterans Memorial on Sept. 29, enjoys an open date on Oct. 6, plays at Liberty Hill Oct. 13, plays host to Bastrop Oct. 20, visits Comal Pieper Oct. 27, and closes out the regular season at home against Kerrville Tivy Nov. 3.

Last season. was Lockhart’s first in the district and it included a rare victory over Tivy, a win over Bastrop, a blowout win in the Bi-District playoff game over San Antonio Burbank (62-7), and narrow losses to Veteran Memorial and to Corpus Christi Flour Bluff in the second round of the playoffs – the latter two each by 49-42 setbacks.

“I think everybody is at least familiar with each other now,” Moebes said. “There’re different personnel in places. The bottom line is you’ve still got to execute when the time comes. I think our district is one of the toughest 5A districts in the state of Texas. It’s gonna be a dogfight every week for sure.

“Liberty Hill is still Liberty Hill. Both Cedar Creek and Bastrop have head coaches going into their second year. Bastrop has a couple of kids that are ranked in the top 10 in the state at their positions. They’ve got a defensive lineman that’s been offered by Georgia and Tennessee. Pieper last year was all juniors so they have 100 percent experience coming back. Veterans Memorial is athletic as any team around. They have one of the best running backs in the nation in James Peoples. He has committed to Ohio State. Kerrville Tivy is a traditional power in the state of Texas for decades.”

Moebes said the success of last season has shown in his Lions’ workouts.

“They come to workouts and training with a lot more business-like attitude,” Moebes said. “I think that has everything to do with our success. For the first in their careers they were able to put together the ability to lift a trophy in the end. That’s everybody’s goal and we were certainly fortunate to accomplish it last year. It’s helped our guys to know the rewards that are out there and now they can go get ‘em again.”

However, there were some key losses on the Lions’ roster due to graduation, including running back Sean McKinney, linebacker Treveon Hopkins, and defensive back Diante Jackson.

“Every year, you’re gonna lose great players and we certainly lost some great ones last year.” Moebes said. “You just gotta reload. That’s what we do as a coaching staff. Certainly, 2023 is our priority right now, but we’re having conversations about what’s gonna happen in ’24, ’25, and ’26, and how do those pieces of the puzzle fit together.”

A player who will be back is quarterback Ashton Dickens who set a school single-season rushing record with 2,013 yards. In 12 games, Dickens accounted for 40 touchdowns, running for 32 and passing for eight. He also passed for 1,020 yards and was named Honorable Mention All-State by the Texas Sports Writers Association.

A West point (Army) commit, Dickens continues to impress his coach.

“He’s just a worker,” Moebes said of his senior signal caller starting at quarterback for the third consecutive season. “One thing about him is he’s consistent every single day. He’s never too high. He’s never too low. He’s going to work and do his job and do it to the best of his ability. You know what you’re gonna get from him and you’re always gonna get his best.

“I think over time and spring ball he’s developed into doing some better things. As the quarterback he’s earned the trust of our team. He can manage that huddle. We certainly expect him to have another great year this year.”

Also committed to Army is offensive tackle Brady Stephenson.

“That’s a tremendous honor for both of those guys,” Moebes said.

Stephenson returns on an offensive line alongside fellow tackle Alex Richardson and guard/center Ricardo Diaz. All three are seniors.

“Those are certainly our bell cows up there,” Moebes said. “They are 12-game starters for us… very consistent guys. You know what you’re gonna get from them. They’re great leaders, too. Just their competitive maturity has helped our two sophomores really grow up quickly — Kaleb Alvarado and Dylan Ovalle, who we are really excited about that are playing well right now.”

Moebes said he believes the Lions; receiving corps to be the most explosive group in his five years in Lockhart.’

Nate Garcia, a 3-year letterman and senior, and returning lettermen Gage Deutsh (junior), and sophomore Ethan Aguirre.

“Those three guys had a great spring,” said Moebes, who is also excited about freshmen Jordan Frohock and Kadon Moebes.

Running backs include Nathaniel Gonzales, a junior who played well in mop-up duty last season, and senior Bart Key, a two-way player who started on at cornerback last season.

“Being the focal point and getting the majority of the carries, you can see how they’re running right now compared to how they ran in the spring,” Moebes said. “They’re doing a great job of being able to run downhill.”

Moebes said the goal is to always be 50-50 running and throwing, but he has trust in his offensive staff under coordinator Josh Gilbert.

Defensive Coordinator Drake Dowling has loads of experience returning.

Defensive ends Joseph Blue (senior), Michael Foster (junior), and Tyler Staton (senior) return, and senior Trent Holcomb, who was the defensive line last season, has been moved to outside linebacker.

Both inside linebackers – seniors Eddie Mendoza and Zakaya Gathings – return. “They’re really playing at a real high level,” Moebes said.

The Lions also return three in the defensive secondary in seniors Bart Key, Quavon Reese, and Trey Brown.

Of particular comfort for the Lions is having senior Omar Ocampo returning to handle all kicking duties.

Moebes also has the added plus of several talented freshmen from last season’s unbeaten squad at Lockhart Junior High under LJH Head Coach Willie Boyd.

“Coach Boyd is awesome,” Moebes said. “He does a tremendous job with those guys. Any success we have had is directly related to the leadership in our program, especially creating that vertical alignment in junior high.”

New coaches on the LHS sidelines this season will be Chris Jennings, a Lockhart alumnus, Zach Cooper, and former NFL player Devante Mays as running backs coach.


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