JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — The Burnet High School football team has several players battling it out for starting positions for the 2014 season.
And fans will be able to get a sneak peek during Burnet 7-on-7 League play that begins 6 p.m. May 5 at the Bulldog practice fields, 1000 The Green Mile. League competition is every Monday during the month except May 12 because Burnet will hold its annual awards ceremony in the high school auditorium, 1000 The Green Mile, that day.
Also playing in the league are Faith Academy of Marble Falls, Llano and Lampasas.
For the first time in three years, the Bulldogs will have a new starting quarterback. Vying for the job are incoming senior Taylor Barksdale and incoming junior Austin Moore.
Barksdale started at linebacker last season, while Moore guided the junior varsity to a 10-0 record.
“Everyone looks for leaders who have confidence and play with confidence,” Bulldogs head coach Kurt Jones said. “We’re looking for a guy who’s going to make solid decisions with the offense, makes throws, takes care of the football and is highly competitive. If you get those things on the field, you have a chance.”
Jones said the Bulldogs will have two teams for 7-on-7 during May. Barksdale will quarterback one team, while Moore will play on the other. The following week, they’ll switch teams.
Incoming junior Brock Foster, who lined up at slot receiver, could be moved to running back. Still, JV running back Keedrick Hill and incoming senior linebacker Eric Walker are battling for starter as well.
“They have really good feet, speed,” Jones said. “They have a chance to make plays.”
In addition to the running back being able to move the chains by running the ball, the coach said he must be equally good at catching the ball and on pass protection. He noted graduating running back Trenton Hafley had 900 yards receiving in two years.
“In our offense, it’s huge,” he said. “We hit our backs in the passing game quite a bit. It’ll continue to be big for us.”
The good news at receiver is Blayne Parisher is the only starter graduating in May. Joel Johnson, a 6-foot-2-inch 185-pounder, is penciled in at starter.
“He was Blayne’s backup,” Jones said. “He brings tremendous upside. He’s big and tall with good speed and good hands.”
Incoming seniors Cory Jones, Cory Campbell and Wyatt Shephard and Foster will return.
As for the defense, reigning District 8-3A Defensive Player of the Year Kody Hall, a linebacker, and Jake McElroy, a defensive back, return to anchor the unit. Both will be seniors. Jones said he can not recall ever seeing the duo not go full speed every second they’re on the field.
Hall’s father, Kevin Hall, is the defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Two years ago, the elder Hall wanted to coach the secondary because several of the players were making their starts at the varsity level for the first time. Coaches tried switching between a man-to-man and a zone defense until they saw progress with the defensive backs.
“I think our defense will be better,” Jones said. “We made a change a couple of years ago trying to be a better defense. I think we’ll have a chance to be stronger.”
The head coach said it’s not up to one player to understand the schemes on both sides of the ball; he is holding each athlete responsible for knowing their roles and for understanding the strengths of their teammates.
“It’s a collective group effort,” he said. “The quarterback is a unique position. You naturally have a little bit of an awareness.”