LYFORD — A new football season in Lyford also means the beginning of a new era under head coach Israel Gonzalez.

The defending District 16-3A Division I champions got the season going on Monday and look to build on a successful 2016 campaign.

“Everybody’s excited around here,” said Gonzalez. “We’re trying to change the culture around here and be a little more upbeat because football is about coming out here and having fun. Kids and coaches are excited (about the new season). I got a young and great staff that is doing a whole bunch and have been really working with these kids with a lot of enthusiasm, and it’s rubbing off on the kids.

“I’ve always said that the players take the characteristic of their coaches, and right now every coach and every player out here is excited about a brand-new season.”

And there is plenty to be excited about in Lyford.

Last season the team went 7-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play. In the postseason, Lyford beat Jourdanton 42-25 in the bi-district round before falling to Yoakum, which reached the 3A state championship.

“Last year was the first time Lyford had moved on past the first round of the playoffs in several years,” said Gonzalez. “The goal right now is to take it day-by-day and week-by-week, but we definitely have aspirations of winning the district championship and then moving on at least past the first round of the playoffs. And if we play up to our potential and stay injury free, we’re definitely looking at a deep playoff run.”

The Bulldogs begin their preseason schedule against Valley View next Friday.

Bevy of returning talent brings high expectations

After a successful 2016 season, excitement is brewing in Lyford over the potential that this year’s team brings.

With standouts like Frank Moreno, Chase Hinojosa and Layne Klostermann all returning, the Bulldogs have lofty goals and high expectations this season.

Offensively, Moreno led the team in both rushing and receiving yards last season. He rushed for more than 850 yards, brought down 27 receptions for more than 550 yards and scored 22 touchdowns in 11 games played.

Chase Hinojosa is another player that head coach Israel Gonzalez will be happy to see back on the field. Last season Hinojosa threw for more than 2,100 yards on a 50 percent completion rate. Hinojosa also threw 24 touchdowns in 11 games.

“We’ve been really impressed with Frank Moreno,” said Gonzalez. “He’s been coming out here a lot; he’s a 4.4 speed kid who plays on both sides of the football so we’re looking forward to seeing him on the field.

“We’ve also been impressed with the senior leadership of Chase Hinojosa and Layne Klostermann. Those guys have been around for a long time and they play well together, and we are looking forward to seeing what they can do this season.”