After posting their best football season record (9-3) in 12 years and the seventh-best scoring season (400 points) in the past 89 years of Bulldog Football, the Royse City Bulldogs will anxiously open their 109th season on Friday.
They’ll face the Frisco Centennial Titans at 7:30 p.m. at Royse City ISD Stadium.
The Bulldogs scrimmaged the Frisco Liberty Redhawks last week, helping to kick off the delayed high school season for University Interscholastic League Classes 5A and 6A. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the larger school districts in the state were delayed starting their seasons until late September.
The Bulldogs return 21 starters from last year’s 9-3 area finalist team. Royse City lost 27 players to graduation and most of those were on the defensive side of the ball. That was a critical loss for this year’s squad as the 2019 team averaged over 33 points per game, while allowing only 19 per contest.
Notably, the Bulldogs lost defensive stalwarts Jamie Cortez at noseguard, outside linebacker John Klump and middle linebacker Zamien Anderson. Although Royse City lost key components to one of the most respected defenses in the district, the Bulldogs did not leave the cupboard bare.
Returning to defense are middle linebacker Blake Buhman (54 tackles), defensive back Damon Dozier, who intercepted two passes against Aledo in the area championship game, and outstanding sophomore linebacker Dominique Gatson.
The strength of the 2020 Royse City football team, may be in its offensive line. The experience, size and strength of this year’s front five include senior center Aiden Murray (220 pounds), guards Braden Tittle (275, Jr.) and Conner Stephenson (Sr. 240) and highly-recruited senior tackles Tyler Williams (235) and Turner Hilburn (280).
Offensively, the Bulldogs return a ton of talent at the skill positions. Junior quarterback Joe Veracruz is expected to be the Royse City starting signal caller. Highly-recruited senior receiver Ketron Jackson recently committed to the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Also back are talented senior wide receiver Michael Alphin and tailback Champ Petty-Dozier, District 8-5A-II’s Sophomore of the Year in 2019.
Also keep an eye on are defensive end/tight end Hayden Hays, free safety Braden Marking, running backs Logan Pinto and Sam Mitchum, H-back Tyson Neighbors, receivers Sir Hill and Jonah Roberson, as well as defensive backs Cameron Johnson and Joseph Morales.
Early season predictions include Royse City returning as a playoff team, while the Ennis Lions are ranked as the No. 1 team in Class 5A, Division II. District 8-5A includes Royse City, Ennis, Greenville, Crandall, Forney, North Forney, Sulphur Springs and Corsicana.
Note that social distancing and UIL guidelines will be closely followed at Royse City ISD Stadium. The game should be live-streamed for those that are not able to attend. For further information regarding ticket purchases and streaming, go to the Royse City ISD website.