Middleton

Tivy running back Fisher Middleton, 10, catches a pass for a touchdown against Fredericksburg.

It doesn’t matter that Tivy High School graduated 13 starters from last year’s football team.

Nor does it matter that the Antlers said goodbye to their quarterback, Trapper Pannell, who signed with Sam Houston State in February, or that they graduated last season’s top four receivers — Brooks McCoy, Colten Drake, Cole Miears and Stoney Rhodes.

The expectations still haven’t changed. As long as the Antlers have the word “Tivy” emblazoned across the front of their uniforms, people are going to expect them to win a lot of games during the fall.

That was reflected in the latest issue of Dave’s Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. Even though the magazine didn’t predict the Antlers to win their district for the first time since 2017, the publication still believes the Antlers are going to make the playoffs for the 24th consecutive season, predicting they will finish No. 2 behind Boerne Champion in the District 15-5A standings.

“I think (the high expectations) are a credit to those kids for being good,” Tivy coach David Jones said. “It’s a legacy that’s left every year. Those kids who come in know they are supposed to perform — and thank the good Lord that most years they do.”

Jones believes his current players have the potential to perform at a high level this season; they will just have to make a few adjustments offensively this season.

Jones acknowledged the Antlers won’t be as dynamic in the passing game this fall. Instead, they will rely on returning offensive linemen Aaron Ortega and Ethan Peschel, as well as talented running backs Fisher Middleton and Ryan Mayberry, to control the line of scrimmage and sustain drives.

Tivy’s coaches are expecting to be stout on defense. They return senior defensive back Jack Patterson, who has received Div. I offers from Abilene Christian and Air Force after recording five interceptions and 10 pass deflections last season; and they bring back senior safety Coleson Abel, who also snagged five interceptions.

Tivy also has a chance to dominate the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball as well, returning defensive linemen Hayden Poe, Micah Harrison, Garrett Kleypas and Hayden Barnett. Those four players combined to register 9 sacks and 33 tackles for loss.

“I think we are going to be pretty good,” Jones said. “We are going to be really solid on defense. We will just be a more run-oriented team than a passing one.”

Of course, there’s still some uncertainty about the status of the upcoming season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Antlers didn’t have an organized offseason workout for 13 weeks; and they didn’t experience Antler Week, a pivotal week in offseason player development.

But, so far, Tivy’s players have remained healthy during the school’s summer strength and condition camp, despite there being 33 active cases of the virus in the area.

Jones said his staff continues to record players’ temperatures before they are allowed to participate. They also make sure players remain at least 6 feet apart during team workouts.

As long as his players remain healthy, Jones and his staff are going to prepare the Antler to compete for another district title.

“I think they have been disappointed we haven’t been able to do our normal stuff this off-season, but our kids have done a great job,” Jones said. “They have done a nice job of handling everything. They have worked hard this summer. We are in our third week of (strength and conditioning camp). As long as we can keep everyone healthy and keep working, I think it will be

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