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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: Marble Falls fifth-grader Reese Butler is on his way to the end zone during the Mustangs’ 22-0 win against Boerne in the fifth-grade championship of the Hill Country Youth Football league Nov 4. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The Texas High School football playoffs are starting this week and only one Highland Lakes team is advancing. To say that is unfortunate is an understatement. So let’s take a closer look.

  1. The Burnet Bulldogs are advancing to the postseason for the first time since the 2020 season. Many reasons exist for why this team got it done. And if you watch my YouTube channel (The Broad Podcaster), you’d hear Daniel Clifton, who writes Canyon Lake football for this site, and me discuss them. Let me offer another reason here. Burnet’s 2024 class is used to plenty of sports success. The Lady Dawgs have shown plenty of that throughout the years (and we’ll get more into that later in this column) to the point they have deservedly received more recognition for that. But the boys in the class of 2024 showed plenty in the seventh and eighth grades. There was excitement when this class arrived on the high school campus as freshmen because they were going to serve as the cornerstone to keep Burnet’s tradition of playoff success, particularly in football, going. After all, this class rarely lost games at Burnet Middle School. As high school players, It took longer for them to qualify for the playoffs than observers thought it would. So it’s no surprise to me the Bulldogs qualified for the playoffs this season because of these seniors. The surprise is they beat both Canyon Lake and San Antonio Davenport on the road to end the regular season on a four-game winning streak and a share of the district title. And my belief is they have enough to beat Somerset (6-4, 3-2 District 14-4A Division I runner-up) for a bi-district title at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at San Marcos High School. We’ll get more into that game later this week.
  2. A reader emailed me asking how District 13-4A Division I determined the playoff seedings. Let me share a theory and I trust that if I’m wrong, someone will tell me. Burnet, Davenport and Lampasas each have the same 4-1 record to be co-district champions. Because Lampasas beat Burnet, Davenport beat Lampasas, and Burnet beat Davenport, the district used stats to determine the seedings. Each win is worth a maximum of +17 points even though Lampasas beat Burnet by more and Davenport beat Lampasas by more. Since Burnet beat Davenport by +7 points, it didn’t have the maximum points recognized by the district, making the Bulldogs the third seed. And since the remaining two teams have the same record, the district went to the first tiebreaker, which is the result of the head-to-head game. That makes Davenport the district’s top seed.
  3. Burnet’s 2024 class is a little like the Marble Falls classes of 2011 and 2022. Those seniors were the biggest reason why the Mustangs advanced to the playoffs in 2010, 2020 and 2021. The class of 2011 featured two NFL players who never lost a game in the seventh and eighth grades. The 2022 class went 8-1 as freshmen. But what’s more remarkable is that class operated a spread offense as freshmen and then learned the slot-T offense as sophomores. By the time they graduated, they advanced to the playoffs in 2020 and 2021 and went 14-6 in the regular season and 3-2 in the playoffs. In other words, fans knew what Marble Falls had coming and had high hopes for those players throughout their varsity years. To the players’ credit, they competed at that high level to get there and then won at least a bi-district crown.
  4. By contrast, this year’s Marble Falls Mustangs’ season ended with a 28-7 loss to Davenport for a 1-9 overall record, 0-5 in district play. Let me state this as politely as possible. The belief that “Marble Falls will never figure it out” wasn’t the case in 2020 and 2021. My biggest reason for writing this because there are county residents who feel justified for making decisions that I hope were made because it’s what was best for their families. And the further away we get from those seasons, the more I appreciate and love the members of those teams who found ways to be successful, no matter the obstacles.
  5. The Llano Yellow Jackets’ season ended with a 49-27 win at Ingram Tom Moore for fifth in the District 13-3A Division I standings. Two unexpected results led to the standings: Llano losing to Marion 28-21 Oct. 13 and Marion losing to San Antonio Cole 41-34. Had one of those two games flipped the other way, the Jackets are playoff bound. Still, there’s plenty that will motivate and encourage the Jackets. They’ll have their quarterbacks back next year and the junior varsity and freshmen each won the district championship. And make no mistake the results of the 2023 season will drive the 2024 team to great success.
  6. The Faith Academy Flames head into their offseason with a 72-26 win against Temple Holy Trinity Nov. 3. The Flames missed the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools playoffs because of the 30-22 loss to Round Rock Christian Oct. 27 for the second and final playoff berth from the district.
  7. Let’s switch to the hardwood. The Burnet Lady Dawgs volleyball team added their fourth consecutive bi-district and third consecutive area victories last week. Burnet, which is the only volleyball team still playing, is seeking its third trip to a regional tournament and looks to have the team to get there. It has six hitters capable of ending rallies and a commitment to playing tough defense. But China Spring (29-12, 8-2 District 23-4A runner-up) should be a great challenge. The match is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Lake Belton High.
  8. The Llano Lady Jackets’ season ended in a three-set loss to Wall in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs for the second year. But these Lady Jackets are different from where they were a year ago. Their biggest improvement wasn’t on the court; it was in their belief in themselves and each other. That confidence is what led to beating Comfort in back-to-back weeks in District 5-3A play. It’ll be interesting to see how the Lady Jackets use the results of the 2023 season in the future.
  9. The Marble Falls Lady Mustangs basketball team opened its season with a 42-27 loss to San Antonio Davenport Nov. 3. But the contest was within a couple of possessions until about the fourth quarter. No question that when a team graduated more than half its roster from last season, the chances of experiencing growing pains the following season are pretty good, and that’s my second observation. My first is that the game looked like a season opener with sloppy play – bad passes, over dribbling, passing up good shots and taking poor ones. All that can be fixed. Let me also state these Lady Mustangs are displaying the commitment to playing defense head coach John Berkman emphasizes. And he is not having to coach effort.
  10. The high school cross country season ended during the weekend. The Burnet Lady Dawgs were the only team from the region to qualify for the state meet, finishing 16th in the team standings paced by freshman Abby Bennight, who was 52nd in 12 minutes and 49.9 seconds in the two-mile race. Meanwhile, Burnet junior Victor Aviles was Burnet County’s top finisher thanks to clocking 16:05.8 for 11th overall in the Class 4A boys 5K race. Marble Falls senior Nick Dahl was 14th in 16:17.2, and junior Tyler Hamblin was 15th in 16:18.2. Burnet junior Isaias Zarate was 55th in 16:59.7

Watch videos on Highland Lakes sports by going to Fierro’s YouTube channel and searching for The Broad Podcaster. Please like, subscribe and share.  

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