CAPION: The Burnet High School football program’s subvarsity players run on the field at Bastrop Memorial Stadium behind the 2023 varsity. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography
The 2023 high school football season is officially over for the region now that the Burnet Bulldogs lost in the second round of the playoffs. But a loss on the scoreboard doesn’t take away the greatness of a squad that performed at the high level I thought they could. Let’s examine why.
- During the season opener way back in August, fans watching the Marble Falls Mustangs asked me if I had a score from the Burnet-La Vernia contest. At the time, the Bulldogs were losing. My advice was not to read anything into the outcome of the game, which was written a couple of days later in another 10 Insights column. And that’s because of the amount of talent on the Burnet roster coupled with a couple of important traits – a coaching staff that understood the strengths of the team and players who committed themselves to being their very best. That was the result of losing the final game of the 2022 regular season in Taylor and deciding 2023 was going to be different. And it was.
- Some call Burnet’s 41-34 victory against San Antonio Davenport Oct. 27 head coach Bryan Wood’s signature win. “It’s a big win, it’s great,” he said Nov. 18. “I think our kids will look back and be proud of it. It’s definitely a game nobody thought we were going to win that has to happen for our program to be elite.”
- And elite programs continue to win games they should and get wins against opponents observers say they shouldn’t. Never met anyone who wants to be a one-hit wonder. That will be the challenge for the Bulldogs moving forward. “You gotta have community support and buy-in,” Wood added. “You have to win to get that. When we began to win, we began to get folks excited. This senior group has started something. All the younger kids better buckle up and get ready to own it.”
- Speaking of elite programs, Burnet is putting two on the basketball court this season as both the Bulldogs and Lady Dawgs are picked to win the District 24-4A crowns. Let’s start with the Lady Dawgs, who have senior Zaris Solis, the reigning district MVP, and return senior MaeSyn Gay from her season-ending injury a year ago. Burnet also has junior forward Sierra Schaefer and junior point guard Sydney Lough. There’s plenty of experience and a sense of unfinished business, that had Gay played the entire 2022-23 season, Burnet would have won the district championship. It’s hard to argue against that since the Lady Dawgs came to Max Copeland Gym and beat Marble Falls, which was the district champion, 43-29 in the first round. The truth is it’s very different when a team goes from being the hunter to the hunted. My feeling though is that the basketball team, which was the only squad wearing Kelly green in the girls athletic department not to win the district championship last year, is driven by that fact. This Lady Dawgs team has the maturity and the mental toughness to play like a favorite. They’ll get everybody’s best effort, and they probably welcome that.
- The Bulldog basketball team, to me at least, is much like the football team. The basketball team had to beat Lampasas in the regular season finale to get into the playoffs last season. And that didn’t happen even though the game needed overtime to decide it. So are the basketball players as driven as their counterparts on the football field? We’re about to find out. And I’m as curious as anyone to see it.
- The Marble Falls Lady Mustangs are still learning and are using every part of the pre-district season to its fullest. Marble Falls finished its own Hill Country Classic tournament with a 0-4 record. The good news is the veterans — senior Lexie Edwards and junior Kylie Roberts — are recognizing they’re going to have to do more in order to give their inexperienced teammates time to get used to the speed and physicality of the varsity level. Offensively, the two have been on the perimeter, are posting up in different spots around the paint, and are committing to playing tough defense with the aim of getting steals and rebounds. In short, they are letting their defense dictate their offense. That commitment to doing whatever is necessary will be vitally important as the season continues.
- The Marble Falls Mustangs are 1-2 after a loss to Leander 48-34 Nov. 17 and a 52-28 win against Austin Navarro Nov. 14. Leander features a couple of players who are 6-foot 3-inches tall. So while no one wants to lose, this game was encouraging because of the Mustangs’ fight.
- The Llano basketball teams suffered losses over the weekend. The Yellow Jackets lost to Abilene High 47-39 Nov. 18. Llano led 25-24 going into the fourth period. Head coach Landry Norwood noted the Eagles took advantage of a Llano team that’s still getting into basketball shape. Meanwhile, the Lady Jackets went 0-4 at the Hamilton Tournament. But they finished the tournament with a 39-35 loss to McGregor in double overtime. Head coach Jay Parker said he can see improvement from his players every time they exit the floor. And he believes they’ll get it together by the time District 5-3A play starts to make a playoff run.
- The Faith Academy girls basketball team lost its first game of the season 65-30 to Austin St. Dominic Savio Nov. 17. That snapped a three-game winning streak. Leading up to that contest, the Lady Flames were getting offensive production from just about every player on the roster, especially senior post Morgan Weems. Weems has added to her game by becoming more consistent on the offensive end. It also helps that her teammates also have gotten better and are showing a commitment to scoring and to defense.
- The Faith Academy boys basketball team earned its first victory of the season, a 71-34 win against San Marcos Academy. The Flames got plenty from their starters. But head coach Zakk Revelle’s defensive philosophy shown brightly in this one as they Flames shut down passing and dribbling lanes to the basket and then pushed the pace for fastbreak buckets. That always helps a team filled with youth get more comfortable.
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