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Burnet football beats Somerset for bi-district crown

CAPTION: Burnet senior Trenton Park gave Somerset trouble on both sides of the ball thanks to scoring and 9 tackles with a pass breakup. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

The Burnet High School football team crushed Somerset 42-17 Nov. 9 for the program’s first bi-district championship in nine years.

The Bulldogs (7-3, 4-1 District 13-4A Division I co-champions) have extended their winning streak to five straight.

“I don’t think about it,” head coach Bryan Wood said of the streak. “I haven’t slowed down enough to think about it. We’re taking it one game at a time and trying to enjoy it.”

Throughout a ball game that began with rain and ended with more rain, Burnet sent a clear message early it would not be swayed from the objective, no matter how much Mother Nature tested them.

“It was raining straight down the whole time,” Wood said. “We had wet footballs. I think they did (enjoy playing in the rain) in the end. It doesn’t matter what the weather is when you win. There wasn’t a dry spot anywhere.”

On the fifth play of Burnet’s opening drive, senior receiver Trenton Park caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Rhett Murray for a 7-0 lead.

The Bulldogs added to it on the next drive that ended when senior athlete Grant Jones took the direct snap into the end zone from two yards out for a 14-0 advantage.

Somerset responded with a 34-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 14-3.

Before the end of the opening stanza, Burnet struck again. This time Murray hit a wide-open Riley Howell, a sophomore defensive end who lined up at fullback on the play and ran to paydirt from 48 yards for the 21-3 lead. Howell was a quarterback in the seventh and eighth grades.

“It was a power play, and he snuck up the seam,” Wood said. “He was so wide open, I was scared he was going to drop it.”

On Somerset’s next series, senior defensive back Jacob Atkinson caught an interception and returned it 25 yards for the touchdown for a 28-3 lead.

“In less than a minute, we scored two touchdowns,” Wood said.

Somerset responded with a touchdown to trim the deficit to 28-10 at the half.

The Burnet fireworks continued in the second half. Murray threw to Jones in double coverage, who found a way to get to the football and outran everyone to the end zone for a 70-yard touchdown and a 35-10 lead.

“It was a fade ball,” Wood said. “Grant said, ‘I’m going to get up and grab it.’ No one was there to grab him. That’s the first time I’ve really seen jump for a ball and jump over someone. We’re excited to see it ourselves.”

After Somerset punted, Burnet went on a 10-play drive that ended in an interception.

“That was my fault,” Wood said. “I’ll own that.”

Somerset struggled to do much. After five plays, it lined up to punt. But the snap was high, and Burnet took over at Somerset’s 40-yard line.

Six plays later, Park caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Murray on a free play thanks to Somerset jumping offsides.

Somerset scored a touchdown with about 90 seconds left for the 42-17 final.

Burnet limited Somerset to 228 yards of total offense with 126 on the ground and 84 in the air. Burnet also won the turnover battle 2-1 thanks to Atkinson and senior defensive back Will Johnson. Johnson hit a receiver so hard he fumbled and Jones got to the loose ball. Senior linebacker Dash Denton led with 11 tackles followed by Park with 9 and senior defensive back Gilbert Valdez had 8 tackles and forced a fumble. Junior linebacker Khris Kassner and Johnson each had a half sack.

Offensively, Burnet racked up 351 yards of total offense with 179 rushing yards and 172 passing yards.

Murray completed 6 of 14 passes for 179 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception. Running back Denton had 22 rushes for 123 yards. Jones had 3 rushes for 10 yards and a score and 2 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Park had 2 catches for 40 yards and 2 scores.

The Bulldogs will face Fort Lavaca Calhoun (6-4, 4-1 District 15-4A Division I winner) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at Bastrop Memorial Stadium. The Sandcrabs beat Zapata (6-4, 3-3 District 16-4A Division I fourth place) 62-36 in the first round.

The last time Burnet won a bi-district championship was in 2014.

“It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Wood said. “I came here with good intentions (three years ago). We tried hard. When you change coaches, you change personalities. It’s like changing boyfriends; you have to learn to put up with them. It’s building a culture. These guys who are seniors set a course. When a new coach shows up, you have a new product to sell, and these guys bought it and then grinded through two hard seasons. Somebody said you’re playing with house money. I don’t know that I like that statistic.

“I feel like we know what we’re getting from the guys all the time,” he added. “We’ve been playing good football. Some of our seniors were telling me they suited up for a bi-district game against Boerne as freshmen in 2020. What we teach to the boys is you work your tails off for what you want. You may not always get it. But if you’re not working hard, I guarantee you won’t. I took my time, I said my prayers. I think these kids are being rewarded.”

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