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Burnet football looks to bury Calhoun Sandcrabs

CAPTION: Burnet senior Brayden Hill celebrates the Bulldogs’ bi-district victory against Somerset in the rain Nov. 10. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

The Burnet High School football team faces Port Lavaca Calhoun at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at Bastrop Memorial Stadium in the area round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs.

The Sandcrabs (7-4, 4-1 District 15-4A Division I champions) utilize the triple-run option as their primary offense.

Burnet head coach Bryan Wood noted Calhoun wants to lull opponents into believing each play is a three-yard run then hit an explosive play of 20 yards to put daggers in the heart of the defense. And while he noted the Bulldogs haven’t defended against this scheme, defensive coordinator Ben Speers has coached up defenses when the two were working in the Lubbock area.

“It’s not new to us,” he said. “It’s comparable to a Slot-T as far as controlling the clock. Lots of different guys are used. You hand it to the fullback or pitch it to the slot back. They play-action one or two out of every 10 plays. It’s a Slot-T, Wing-T mentality.”

Calhoun is led by senior fullback Jayce Campos, who has 164 rushes for 1,266 yards and 18 touchdowns, while junior running back Darrik Salinas has 76 carries for 809 yards and 5 scores. Junior quarterback Alex Parker has 131 rushes for 637 yards and 17 touchdowns. Sophomore slot back Holton Hadley has 41 carries for 470 yards and 5 scores.

Campos has completed 14 of 26 passes for 357 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. Salinas has four catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns, and junior Fischer Franck has 5 receptions for 105 yards and a score.

“They’re a pretty explosive offense,” Wood said. “You have to keep the explosive plays to a minimum.”

Defensively, Calhoun switches between a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. The Sandcrabs are led by junior middle linebacker Coltyn Judd, who has 97 tackles, junior safety Cesar Aguilar, who has 82 tackles and an interception, and senior defensive back Castillo, who has 75 tackles, 2 interceptions, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal.

“They’re equally good at both of them,” Wood said. “Doing that forces teams to split their practice times having to block them both.”

Burnet will counter with a balanced offensive attack led by junior quarterback Rhett Murray, who has completed 124 of 192 passes for 2,036 yards, 23 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Senior running back Dash Denton has 148 rushes for 943 yards and 9 scores. Senior athlete Grant Jones has 43 receptions for 970 yards and 13 touchdowns and 35 carries for 307 yards and scores.

Wood said the biggest key to success this time of year is confidence. Players must believe in themselves and what they’re doing before they step out on the field.

The other part is understanding the Bulldogs have been playing each week minus the District 13-4A Division I open week since July 31. Wood called it the grind of the season. Therefore, practices are more efficient to get the players on and off the field in a timely manner.

“You’re not learning new stuff,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the freshness mentally. Physically, it’s a grind. We’re trying to get a little better each day. You want to keep it going.”

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