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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: The Burnet Bulldogs come roaring out of the tunnel. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Happy Labor Day! And believe me, some will definitely be laboring today. Week three of the football season is upon the Highland Lakes, and some teams earned their first win, while others suffered their first loss, and still others are searching for that elusive victory. There’s much to discuss, so let’s get to it.

  1. Let’s start with the Burnet Bulldogs and their win against the Llano Yellow Jackets. Going into the week, I told people that Burnet is better than they think. After all, getting a player like Grant Jones back on the field was huge for a Bulldog team that gets so much from him. And I don’t mean his playmaking abilities, though that can’t be ignored. Jones gives the opponents someone else they must account for. Jones has the ability to turn the game in Burnet’s favor in the blink of an eye. And, most importantly, Jones gives his teammates confidence that they can beat anybody on their schedule. And as great Jones is, he had only one catch for a 73-yard touchdown during the win. It was another senior, running back Dash Denton, who had the greatest impact: 10 rushes for 157 yards and three scores and gets my game ball. Going into the contest, Burnet head coach Bryan Wood thought the key to the game was what his offense could do against Llano’s defense, which is regarded as the strength of that team. The Bulldogs had 403 yards of total offense en route to the win. Next up for the Bulldogs is Brownwood, which beat Marble Falls. We’ll get to that game in a moment.
  2. Let’s talk about the Yellow Jackets for a minute. We discussed the defense, which is considered the strength of the team. The Jackets shouldn’t be discouraged by what happened against Burnet for several reasons. Top of the list is the Llano mistakes are fixable. There was plenty about this Llano team that left me encouraged. First, they dominated time of possession. Now the skeptics will say that’s because Burnet scored quickly. OK, that’s a given. At the same time though junior quarterback Colton Bailey had drives of 13 plays, 14 plays and nine plays with two of those ending in touchdowns. What also can’t be disputed is that four of Llano’s drives ended in turnovers and one in a blocked punt returned for a Burnet touchdown. But again, those are fixable. The truth is the seniors on this team know only success, and my belief is that head coach Matt Green and his staff will challenge these Jackets to learn from this contest. In short, this loss won’t beat them twice. They’ll put it in perspective and fans will see the Llano team they’re used to when Austin Crockett visits at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.
  3. The Marble Falls Mustangs showed a couple of big positives during their loss to Brownwood 56-7 Sept. 1. First, they fumbled the ball one time. And second, there weren’t personal flags that wiped out positive gains. You may laugh at that, but that was the story in the week one loss to Pflugerville Connally. If the Mustangs can keep their composure the entire season — and not hurt themselves with penalties and fumbles — they have a great chance at getting the season they want. They’ll get another chance when they visit Killeen Chaparral at 7 p.m Friday, Sept. 8.
  4. The Faith Academy Flames earned their first win of the 2023 season, a 48-40 heart stopper at Waco Texas Wind, a member of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations. The win was new head coach John Hallam’s first in Faith red. It was another important victory for the Flames, who now turn their attention to preparing for a motivated Smoking For Jesus squad.
  5. The Smoking For Jesus Eagles are a different team than what they were in 2022. Issac Legier has graduated, and he was the best dual-threat quarterback in the Highland Lakes in the last two years. The Eagles will arrive to Faith Academy’s Britton Field looking for their first win after losing to a very good Cherokee team 59-6 Aug. 25 and to Austin Royals 76-30 Sept. 1. Defensive coordinator Boo Maxwell is the head coach and the playcaller for both sides of the ball. Kickoff at Faith Academy is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8.
  6. Let’s switch sports and go to the hardwood for some volleyball. The Burnet Lady Dawgs had their five-match winning streak end with back-to-back losses to Taylor 25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 24-26, 9-15, and to Wimberley 20-25, 19-25, 20-25. Not worried about the Lady Dawgs, who are the favorites to win the district crown again. The race, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 22, will be tougher because the district should be improved. Georgetown Gateway and Lampasas always play tough, and Lago Vista qualified for the Class 4A Region III tournament a year ago. Burnet knows it must be consistently good throughout the district campaign to win another championship. And the Lady Dawgs know that type of success isn’t given either. They have four matches left before the start of district play, and the Lady Dawgs will use each to get better.
  7. The Marble Falls Lady Mustangs lost to Llano 11-25, 19-25, 25-15, 17-25 Sept. 1 after having a bye earlier in the week. Again, two wees remain until the start of the District 24-4A campaign begins.
  8. The Llano Lady Jackets are 9-14 after playing 23 matches for new head coach Claire Head. The Lady Jackets are on the rise after suffering through a five-match losing streak to start the season. The explanation there is the players were adjusting to new setters and new roles. And though the Lady Jackets have lost two and three in a row, they beat Lago Vista, an old rival from District 25-3A that is now a member of the District 24-4A and reached the Class 4A Region III tournament in 2022. That match should be a spring board for better things to come. Llano will get another test in facing Lampasas and Austin St. Michael’s Tuesday, Sept. 5.
  9. The Faith Academy Lady Flames earned a big win against San Antonio Lutheran 25-14, 25-10, 25-20 Aug. 31. Why is this match big? Because the Lady Flames are starting District 3-3A play of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools at home against Round Rock Christian, the defending state champion then travel to Bryan Brazos Christian Thursday, Sept. 7. This district is the toughest in TAPPS Class 3A, and it will live up to that again this season.
  10. Let’s do another pivot and talk some cross country. Last season, Burnet won the District 24-4A crowns in the girls varsity, girls junior varsity and boys junior varsity races with the boys varsity finishing as the runner-up to Marble Falls. This season Burnet doesn’t look like it is missing a beat, even with new head coach Kristi Jones taking over for Roy Kiser. Expect to see some great races during the district meet that will be hosted by Marble Falls again. Burnet junior Victor Aviles might be the best individual runner in the district, but Marble Falls senior Nick Dahl will have a say on that. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the boys varsity race set course, district and program records because this race features lots of motivated and talented runners who bring out the best in each other.

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