CAPTION; Burnet senior receiver Grant Jones forces his way through the line of scrimmage, which makes him difficult to stop. Photo by Martelle Luedecke Photography
The Burnet High School football team hosts Early at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, at Bulldog Field in its last contest before the start of District 13-4A Division I play.
The Bulldogs (2-2) beat the Longhorns (1-3, District 2-3A Division II) 49-48 last year where the two teams exchanged the lead for much of the final quarter.
In the end, running back Dash Denton scored the game-winning touchdown and receiver Grant Jones caught the two-point pass that was the difference in the outcome.
As he considered what he’s discovered watching this year’s Early team, Burnet head coach Bryan Wood noted there are similarities.
“I think it’s pretty close,” he said. “They’ve had kids who’ve been banged up. I don’t think we know exactly what we’re going to get. They had five guys standing on the sideline. Nobody was on crutches or casts. I anticipate we’ll see them in full force.”
The Longhorns, who beat Bangs 52-10 in the season opener before losing three straight, have used three different quarterbacks this season: sophomore Rohyn Price, junior Weston Barton and senior Justin Pierce.
In four games, Barton has completed 12 of 34 passes for 147 yards with three interceptions. In three games, Price has completed 19 of 38 passes for 261 yards with four scores and four interceptions and has 10 carries for 45 yards and two scores. In two contests, Pierce has completed 13 of 25 passes for 170 yards and four interceptions.
Senior running back Griffin Cheslock has 58 rushes for 328 yards and two scores.
Receivers Ki Houston, a senior, and Andrew Reedy, a freshman, lead the air attack. Houston has 11 receptions for 241 yards and a touchdown, while Reedy has 15 catches for 134 yards and a score.
“Reedy can go,” Wood said. “He’s a kid who’s really good. Reedy is really hard to tackle. He jumps around sideways, he spins. They spread it out to those two guys. Both of those guys are speedy.”
Wood noted the Early offensive line is effective in blocking, no matter the type of play called.
“They’re pretty solid upfront,” he said. “Their offensive line is comparable to ours. They seem to get in the right places and do a good job to get the run game going.”
The Bulldogs will counter with senior defensive back Will Johnson, who had 14 tackles and three pressures during the win against Giddings last week. Junior linebacker Khris Kassner, sophomore defensive back Riley Howell, and senior defensive back Haberer each had seven tackles.
Defensively, Early relies on senior defensive end Dalton Adams and junior defensive tackle Brooks Clippinger to control the line of scrimmage. Adams has 22 total tackles, a fumble recovery and a sack, while Clippinger has 31 tackles and four sacks. Defensive back Reedy has 22 tackles, all solo.
The two line up opposite of each other.
“You pick your poison on which side you want to attack,” Wood said. “Adams is a 6-3, 230-pounder. He’s a big athletic-looking kid.”
The Bulldogs will rely on junior quarterback Rhett Murray, who has completed 41 of 61 passes for 675 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception. Jones has 14 catches for 394 yards and six touchdowns. Senior receiver Trenton Park has 15 catches for 210 yards and two scores.
Denton leads the rushing attack with 40 carries for 329 yards and four touchdowns, while junior running back Kassner has 24 rushes for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
Wood said the emphasis continues to be on alignment and assignment.
“We want them to drive the ball and have extensive drives if they’re going to score,” he said. “And we want to maximize our opportunities. We had a few touchdowns called back because of penalties. We want to clean it up and make sure we don’t hurt ourselves because of penalties.”
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CAPTION: Burnet senior running back Dash Denton continues to put pressure on defenses to stop him from scoring. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography