District title for Burnet football runs through Liberty Hill

Burnet High School quarterback Derek Kiser (left) fires a pass downfield during the Bulldogs' 45-0 win over the Gatesville Hornets on Oct. 18. The Bulldogs now face the Liberty Hill Panthers on Oct. 25 in Liberty Hill with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

[box]GAMETIME
Burnet Bulldogs vs. Liberty Hill Panthers
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25
WHERE: Panther Stadium, 16500 Texas 29 West in Liberty Hill
TUNE IN: Listen to 102.9 FM or at KBEYFM.com with pre-game show at 7 p.m. and live broadcast at 7:30 p.m.[/box]

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

BURNET — The Burnet High School football team ensured the Oct. 25 showdown against Liberty Hill will have District 8-3A championship implications.

“The majority of time over the last 10 years, the district championship has gone through (Liberty Hill),” Burnet head coach Kurt Jones said. “That’s what we want people to be saying about us. The only way to make that happen is if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

The Bulldogs (5-2, 1-1) crushed Gatesville 45-0 on Oct. 18 to earn their first district win. Meanwhile the Panthers (6-1, 2-0) defeated Brownwood 31-20.

Liberty Hill utilizes the Slot-T formation, a running attack that capitalizes on misdirection to confuse the defense.

“We feel like we’re a pretty experienced team,” Jones said. “Liberty Hill is as experienced as anybody. They run that offense as well as anybody in Texas.”

The Panthers are led by senior quarterback Tyler Vickers, who has 36 rushes for 354 yards and four touchdowns and has completed six passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.

Senior running back Nick Barrios has 93 rushes for 701 yards and nine touchdowns, while senior running back Will Fromme has carried 85 times for 646 yards and seven touchdowns for the Panthers.

“They have hard-nosed kids who run hard, and they have quality speed as well,” Jones said. “You  have to be ready to defend both to a certain degree when you play Liberty Hill. Liberty Hill always does a good job on offensive line as well.”

Against the Hornets on Oct. 18, the Bulldogs racked up 328 total yards of offense. But most important, they capitalized on turnovers.

Jeremy Ayers recovered a Gatesville fumble during a punt, and senior quarterback Derek Kiser hit senior running back Brock Foster for a 15-yard touchdown four minutes into the contest.

The Bulldogs special teams blocked a punt that resulted in another 15-yard Kiser touchdown pass, this time to Joel Johnson.

“We were good in all three phases of the game,” Jones said. “That’s what you want to string together. Not that we were perfect, but a lot of things went well. Gatesville is a good team. We knew that going in. We knew it was going to be a big battle all night. We definitely made the big plays.”

By the end of the contest, Kiser had completed 12 of 16 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns. Cody Jones caught two passes for 78 yards, Johnson hauled in five for 71 yards and two touchdowns and junior Brock Foster nabbed four receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

Running back Trenton Hafley finished with 15 rushes for 50 yards and two touchdowns, while Jonathan Brown added 10 carries for 62 yards.

In Burnet’s 36-31 loss to Brownwood on Oct. 11, the Bulldogs gave up three big plays on special teams that turned into Lions points. Against the Hornets, Burnet’s special teams played a big role in leading the way to the win.

“I answered a lot of questions, and I’m sure our players did, too,” Jones said. “Mentally, how can you put a gut-wrenching loss to Brownwood behind you? I thought we had a great week of practice. It showed against Gatesville. I’m proud of our kids for bouncing back the way they did.”

The Bulldogs travel to Liberty Hill, 16500 Texas 29 West, for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Oct. 25.

jfierro@thepicayune.com