Hillcrest has posted three consecutive winning seasons but hasn’t won a postseason game since 2006.
So, while the progress is clear for the Panthers, so is the hunger for a squad that closed last season by winning five of its last six regular-season games.
“We’re looking to take that next step,” fifth-year head coach Jacob Ramon said. “We’ve lost some games because of our youth, and now that youth is more matured.”
Returning to postseason play could be challenging as Hillcrest navigates a 10-team district that includes defending Class 5A Division II state champion South Oak Cliff.
However, Ramon is optimistic the pieces are in place to make another run despite the loss of starting quarterback and team leader Carter Sido to graduation.
Several of the team’s top playmakers will see time on both sides of scrimmage, including Reggie Williams, who will line up in multiple positions. He scored 10 offensive touchdowns last season while also posting five interceptions as a safety.
“Reggie has to have a lot of touches for us to be successful,” Ramon said.
Four-year varsity starter Brady Gibson also returns (after tallying 116 tackles last year) alongside Ford Morris as linebacker. Dynamic speedster Jaden Hodge and sure-footed kicker Reed Malphurs also return.
The quarterback spot could be a work in progress. Carter Smith and Luke Monter could split time during non-district play, with Williams seeing some snaps, too.
The offensive and defensive lines should be solid with Gil Garza, Clarence Sanders, Prophet Hishaw, and Duncanville transfer Trevor Cabell.