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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: Burnet senior quarterback Tanner O’Hair (right) celebrates with seniors Jose Rodriguez (left) and Braden Ellett-Clark. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Welcome to this weekly column where readers will find a summary of sports across the region and the impressions left on this writer.

Two weeks remain in the high school football regular season and some teams continue their strides, others are finding their strides, and others are dealing with adversity beyond the scoreboard. Those reasons are why I’m never bored. So let’s get started.

  1. Bulldog Field was rocking Oct. 21 with the District 13-4A Division I leader Canyon Lake visiting Burnet. The Bulldogs showed the fight associated with wearing the Kelly green and had a lead. But the Hawks, who to many are a notch above the other district members, showed their depth in coming back and not allowing the Bulldogs to score a point in the second half after the two played to a 14-14 tie. Junior Grant Jones moved to quarterback after senior quarterback Tanner O’Hair exited the contest because of an injury. The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Bulldogs as they welcome Davenport, which beat Lampasas 55-34.
  2. The Marble Falls Mustangs showed plenty of heart and spunk Oct. 21 during their loss to Taylor 42-26. Ducks senior quarterback Ryan Valdez scored a long touchdown late in the fourth quarter to make this contest appear less even than it was. Valdez was the difference in the contest thanks to one key play. After the Mustangs scored on their opening drive of the third quarter to trim the deficit to 28-26, the defense put the Ducks in third-and-9 from their own 22-yard line. A Mustang broke through and had his arms wrapped around Valdez’s waist. But the quarterback spun out and ran 19 yards for the first down that eventually led to the touchdown. The Mustangs never scored another point and never got any closer. I bring this up to state one fact. Valdez is a senior who was being tackled by a sophomore who simply didn’t have the strength to make the play. There is a difference between having the right play called and the ability to execute it.
  3. The Smoking For Jesus Eagles added their third win in a row, mercy-ruling San Antonio Jubilee 51-6. Defensive coordinator Boo Maxwell called the plays on both sides of the ball and adjusted on the fly to give the Eagles an opportunity to capture a victory that wasn’t close. In the process, the Eagles showed the greatness the program is known for thanks to their athleticism and commitment to finding a way to be successful. They also displayed another important trait — a willingness to be coached and trust that the plays would work.
  4. The Llano Yellow Jackets earned a huge victory at Blanco 17-6 to capture their third straight district championship Oct. 21. Llano rolled to a 17-0 half-time lead and the defense held the Panthers to six points in four quarters. This win completes a three-game stretch of the Jackets facing the three best opponents in District 13-3A Division I. In the process, Llano has allowed a total of 27 points. And only one of those games was at Llano Stadium. The offense has done a great job and the defense has been even better.
  5. Let’s hand out some game balls. To Smoking For Jesus sophomore Myron Glaspie, who had three rushes for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns and caught a 57-yard pass.
  6. To Llano senior receiver Jackson Dillard, who caught six of junior quarterback Briggs Green’s nine completions, for 100 yards and a touchdown in the win against Blanco.
  7. To Llano senior free safety Isaiah Bush, who had 11 tackles, nine of which were solo, and a blocked field goal against Blanco.
  8. To O’Hair because of his toughness and importance to the Bulldogs. In short, he didn’t seem to worry about limelight, credit or acknowledgement. His focus always was on winning, even if it meant his teammates had the eye-popping stats or made the plays that ensured victory and got the attention. We’ll never know if there’s a different outcome against Canyon Lake if O’Hair finishes the game. But I can say without a doubt the Burnet offense will miss the senior and the many options he gave coaches.
  9. Let’s switch sports and go to cross country. Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 24-25, are big because of regional meets for University Interscholastic League members. All three Highland Lakes publoc high schools are sending runners to compete. Burnet and Marble Falls will head southeast to Huntsville for the Class 4A Region III meet where Burnet senior Hudson Bennett is my favorite to repeat as the regional champ (Let’s be honest — he’s many people’s favorite). But Llano is sending its girls team and Jorge Godinez to the Class 3A Region I meet in Lubbock. I’m very curious to see the outcome of this one.
  10. The volleyball regular season ends Tuesday, Oct. 24. The Burnet Lady Dawgs won their second straight district title, while the Llano Lady Jackets qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2016. I’m not surprised by either result as Burnet always had the best team and Llano always had the best setter. The playoffs start next week and we’ll have more from the court as it becomes apparent who each team will play.

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