The first football scrimmage of the 2018 season will be Friday evening (Aug. 17) at Stephenville, with the varsity matchup set to start at about 6:30.

Coach Cliff Watkins’ Tigers are coming off back-to-back district championships. They have won a total of 17 games in Watkins’ first two seasons and had four playoff games, but he is looking to see his squad reach a higher level this year.

“Now let’s raise the bar,” Watkins said. “Let’s take it to the next level and see what happens and I think that’s these guys’ goal this year is to create something new and be the senior class that takes it to the next level.”

Watkins said that during this preseason, he asked his seniors what their goals are.

“Things that were probably goals, year one, are now expectations,” Watkins said. “Now our goals are bigger things because the foundation’s been laid.”

The Tigers reached the third round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs in 2016, finishing with an 8-5 record. They bowed out of the 2017 playoffs in the bi-district round, posting a 9-2 mark.

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s preseason rankings listed the Tigers as the 15th-best Class 4A Division II team in the state, and is picked as the favorite to win a third straight district crown.

Glen Rose has seven offensive and five defensive starters returning.

Stephenville, a member of District 5-4A Division I, is coming off a 12-3 season in which the Yellow Jackets reached the state semifinals. Coach Greg Winder has a large crop of talented seniors who benefitted from that season and a half of varsity experience. There are seven returning starters on offense and eight on defense.

The Yellow Jackets are picked to win their tough new district alignment. Dave Campbell’s preseason Division II top 20 rankings listed Stephenville at No. 3 in the state.

The opening game of the season will be Aug. 31, at home against Grandview (7:30 p.m.).