Burnet on the cusp of return rockdale at burnet
But in Kurt Jones’ second season at the helm, you get the feeling the Bulldogs are on the cusp of returning to past glories.
Despite a 5- 6 mark last season, Burnet made its first playoff appearance in a decade and according to prognosticators, will battle storied Brownwood for the District 8-3A title this season, in what is considered the toughest Class 3A league in the state.
They’ll find out who has the upper hand fairly quickly—the two open district play on Oct. 11.
Since coach Bob Shipley’s departure in 2006, the Bulldogs have gone 53-45, which a lot of teams would gladly take, but not up to previous Burnet standards.
“We felt like we finished the last half of the year fairly strong last year,” Jones said. “And we just got to build off of that. And, if we’ll do that, then everything else will fall into place and take care of itself.
“ I think we’re going to be stronger overall as a team. The team strength should be much improved. I also think just in confidence. And that comes with kids coming back that have been one- or two-year starters for us.”
“We don’t see a whole lot of weaknesses in them,” said Rockdale Coach Jeff Miller. “They play very fast and they’re very strong like us. And the quarterback, he’s a player.”
Burnet is coming off a 40-27 win over Fredericksburg in the season opener.
Leading 33-27 in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs got a late interception by Eddie Medrano on a tipped ball with about 90 seconds left.
Cody Jones scored from 30 yards out on fourth-and-9 with 25 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
The Bulldogs return seven starters on both sides of the ball. On offense, skill players are abundant in quarterback Derek Kiser, running back Trenton Hafley and a talented stable of wide receivers.
In his first year as a starter, K iser (6- foot- 2, 180 pounds) threw for 2,800 yards and 22 touchdowns and is the pre-season district most valuable player.
Kiser was impressive in the opener, completing 24- of- 32 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.
Hafley had 101 yards on the ground, while Cody Jones hauled in seven passes for 126 yards and Blayne Parisher grabbed six passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
In Rockdale’s 24-17 victory over Burnet last season at home, Austin Caffey turned in a career night with 10 catches, 139 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers to the win. His fourth quarter score pushed the Tigers ahead 24-10 with 6:29 remaining.
Rockdale led 17-3 at halftime.
In just his second start, Kiser was 23-of-39 for 267 yards, but was picked off three times, twice in the final five minutes.
Despite the loss, Burnet did roll up 400 yards of offense.
• Senior tackle Dedrick Page graded out highest against Salado.
• Hayden Offield’s 78-yard interception return for a TD was the second-longest in school history, tied with Stryker Sulak (2005). The longest return for a score belongs to Sonny Givens who took one to the house against Manor in 1991.
• Junior reserves Javier Mayberry and Jon Hines missed the game due to concussion-like symptoms. Hines will return Friday.
• Senior defensive back Ladontice Coates led the Tigers in tackles with nine.
• The Tigers were penalized 12 times for 104 yards.
• Pete Heintze, Jakob Moreland, Preston Ehler and Justin Offield started both ways for the Tigers.
• Burnet is over twice as large as Rockdale with 951 students.
• Rockdale game cameraman Joe Wayne Cleveland and his wife Sarah celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary Friday night. Coincidently, Cleveland has been filming Tiger games for 44 years. There is no truth to the rumor they were married in the press box. Austin Caffey
Austin Caffey (2011-13) 75
Joe Sanders (2007-09) 73
P.J. Williams (1992-94) 69
Cody Skubal (2011) 52
• Austin Caffey’s fourth catch of the evening for 23 yards pushed him past Joe Sanders to become the school’s all-time leader in receptions. “He’s been a very reliable receiver,” Miller said. “He does a great job of going to the spot and getting open and catching the ball with contact. He’s a great kid and a coach’s dream.”
What: Burnet Bulldogs (1-0) at Rockdale Tigers (1-0). Where: Bulldog Stadium (4,905 capacity, grass) When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Favorite: Rockdale by 3. Last week: Rockdale 47, Salado 21; Burnet 40, Fredericksburg 27. Series record: tied 3-3. District outlook: Burnet is picked 2nd in District 8-3A, (Brownwood, Liberty Hill, Gatesville, Llano, Lampasas). Bulldog to watch: No. 7, Senior QB Derek Kiser. If you go: Take Hwy 79 to Taylor, take a right onto Hwy 95. Outside Taylor take left on Hwy 29 which takes you into Burnet. In Burnet, take right onto Hwy 281/North Water St., then right onto Green Street. Stadium is on the left. 83 miles. Best place to eat: Post Mountain BBQ, Main Street.