The 2008 year for the Armadillos was a year of promise that could have been better. Two close losses at the start of the season, two consecutive wins and several competitive games in district give hope for the coming years.
San Saba opened the year with a 2-point loss at De Leon followed by a 1-point loss at Mason that saw three blocked kicks. After a blowout by Goldthwaite, the Dillos responded with wins over Johnson City and Dublin. The Armadillos were competitive with Bangs through 3 quarters and gave Brady a good game until halftime. San Saba gave Early all it could handle until the fourth quarter and let a halftime lead against Comanche slip away. The season ended with a close game against Coleman that left San Saba with a 2-8 record.
San Saba leaves a well-seasoned team for the 2009 season. The Armadillos will lose 4 starters on each side of the ball but only two started on both sides, Bobby Pairett and Ryan Plumley. Plumley did not play the final two games because of injury and his place was filled by underclassmen. Other starters that will graduate are Willie Wiley, Jose Garcia, Dustin Morgan and Fernando Anaya. The remaining seniors on the 2008 that saw playing time were George Long, John Hartranft, Bradley Cummins and Carter Wells.
Returning starters for San Saba are Gary Gant, Jack Whitten, Chase Key, Hayden Oliver, Joseph Henry, Tyler McIntosh and Anthony Salinas. Also starting games because of injuries were Tucker Cromer, Ryan Parks and Chance Gotcher. Getting playing time for the Dillos were David Smith, Diego Gonzalez at kicker and Pete Torres on special teams and some defense.
Gary Gant led the team in rushing with 621 yards and 6 scores before being hurt in the Brady game. Jack Whitten had 518 yards and 7 touchdowns. Dustin Morgan had 293, mostly after Gant was hurt. The quarterback tandem of Whitten and Long were 59 of 144 with 3 scores and 13 interceptions. Joseph Henry led the receivers with 16 catches for 238 yards and 2 scores, Ryan Plumley had 14 receptions for 224 yards and the other score, Chase Key added 9 catches and Jose Garcia had 8. As a team, San Saba had 1609 yards rushing with 16 touchdowns and 59 receptions for 787 yards. In a surprising note, the Dillos actually out-rushed their opponents, 1609 to 1555.
On the defensive side, it seemed like a different person led the team each week. The most consistent players each week were Bobby Pairett and Whitten. Plumley and Tucker Cromer led the team with 5 turnovers each. Key, Henry and Anthony Salinas had 3 each. The team totaled 19 fumble recoveries for turnovers and 11 interceptions. In another surprising note, the Armadillos were +2 in turnover ratio. San Saba lost 15 fumbles and threw 13 interceptions for a total of 28 giveaways compared to the 30 takeaways.
With seven starters returning on each side of the ball next year, it could be a better year for the Armadillos. Most of the district teams will lose 6-8 players on each side this year compared to 4 for San Saba.
Finally, the offensive and defensive players of the year, as voted on by the panel and a polling of local “experts” are Gary Gant, despite his fumbles, on offense and Bobby Pairett edging out Jack Whitten on defense.