COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Alpine Fightin' Bucks - Odessa American: Football

COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF 2019: Alpine Fightin' Bucks

By Michael Bauer, 432-333-7772 | Posted: Friday, August 16, 2019 11:45 pm

ALPINE Alpine would certainly like to end its recent woes in the state playoffs, and with nine starters coming back this year, there’s hope that the Fightin’ Bucks can finally bring an end to their one-and-done streak.

Coming off a 5-6 overall record in 2018, Alpine has lost in the bi-district round for four consecutive years but head coach John Fellows is excited with the players he has coming back this season.

“Like anybody else, they’re just excited to get back out and after it,” Fellows said. “We finished up the first weeks of practice and the energy has been really good this week.

“I’m really proud of the way the boys have played. They’ve come out with a lot of energy and have played very well.”

The Bucks’ last playoff win was a 41-35 victory over Colorado in 2014.

Alpine finished second behind Crane in the District 1-3A Division II standings last year with a 2-1 record, then lost to Idalou in the bi-district round last year.

With the work the players have put in the offseason, Fellows has been eager to get back to work. 

“It’s like anything else, it’s been a long time coming,” Fellows said. “It took a lot of work during the offseason and the kids have done a good job of responding.”

The Bucks return 14 lettermen and Fellows said his team’s seniors have shown strong leadership, adding it as one of the team’s strengths going into this season, though there are concerns about the offensive line.

“I think our seniors have done a great job of showing leadership and I think our offensive line has been, I wouldn’t say weak, but a little suspect in that area in recent years and I think we have a good group,” Fellows said.

The Bucks will continue running the spread option on offense while using an odd front on defense.

“It’s just like with anything else, we have a lot to work on this season,” Fellows said. “On offense, it’s just timing and getting to know some of the new stuff. We’ve been learning a new defensive scheme as well. It’s just been learning the schemes and getting better everything.”

Four starters return on offense for Alpine while five come back on defense.

Among those returning includes last year’s All-District co-defensive MVP, senior linebacker Travis Ruckman.

Junior offensive lineman Mason Cavness, who was a first team All-District selection last year is another returning asset for the Bucks.

“We’re hoping that Travis Ruckman can lead that defense,” Fellows said. “He was a defensive MVP last year in the district.

“Then on offense, we have our offensive line with Mason Cavness and Fabian Equihua; we’re surely hoping they can anchor a run for us.”

For Ruckman, the pieces are in place for the Bucks to have a good season.

“We’re excited,” Ruckman said. “We’re looking good. There’s always work to do to get better but we feel like we’re doing well.”

He’s hopeful that the work during the offseason will pay off.

“It’s been a grind at practice,” Ruckman said. “We all put in the work over the summer.

“We want to do our best and take it week by week. We just need to do our best.”

With Ruckman entering his senior year, he’s looking to make an impact.

“I know it’s going to be sad when it’s all over but we worked hard for this and we’re going to do our best this season,” he said. “It feels really good. We’ve been waiting all summer for this.”

The Bucks also bring back senior offensive lineman Jeremiah Muse, senior wide receiver Justin Miller and senior quarterback Aaron Fellows.

As far as district play goes, John Fellows is aware of the competition from the three other schools.

“I think our district as a whole is going to be better than what it was last year,” John said. “I think Anthony is going to be a lot better this year. Big Lake (Reagan County) was really young last year. They’re going to be better this year. Crane, of course, is going to be great. Coach (Jeff) Cordell does a great job. It’s going to be an interesting district race.”

>> Follow Michael Bauer on Twitter at @OAMichaelba