Burnet 7-on-7 football team returning to state tournament after strong qualifier

STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO

Burnet High School senior receiver Blaine Burkhalter makes a leaping catch during a 7-on-7 game at the Burnet state-qualifying tournament May 26. The Bulldogs had previously qualified for the 7-on-7 Division II State Tournament by finishing in the top two at the Fredericksburg state-qualifying tournament May 19. Photo by Martelle and Briezie Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Burnet High School senior receiver Blaine Burkhalter makes a leaping catch during a 7-on-7 game at the Burnet state-qualifying tournament May 26. The Bulldogs had previously qualified for the 7-on-7 Division II State Tournament by finishing in the top two at the Fredericksburg state-qualifying tournament May 19. Photo by Martelle and Briezie Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

BURNET — After a one-year hiatus, the Burnet High School 7-on-7 football team is back at the Division II state tournament thanks to a strong showing during the Fredericksburg State Qualifying Tournament.

After a string of appearances from 2009-16, the Bulldogs fell short of making the state tournament last year, but, on May 19, they earned a spot back in College Station after going 4-0 at the Fredericksburg qualifier.

In the preliminary round, Burnet defeated Geronimo Navarro 28-27, Andrews 40-21, and Hondo 38-8. In the qualifying round, Burnet beat the Lago Vista Vikings 45-27. Boerne High also beat the Vikings, 28-26, which gave Lago Vista two losses and ensured the Bulldogs landed one of the two automatic qualifying spots to the state tournament.

To Burnet offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jerod Rye, the drills, weightlifting sessions, and workouts the players went through during the spring are paying off.

The 7-on-7 season also let Rye see two potential Bulldog quarterbacks in action: senior Wyatt Young and sophomore Jaxon Denton. With last year’s starting quarterback, junior Chandler Galban, and his family relocating to the Houston area, Rye is looking for Denton or Young to fill the position this fall.

The coach said it was especially gratifying to see how all the Burnet players competed during the Fredericksburg tournament. Several Bulldogs made big plays during key moments in each contest.

Burnet sophomore quarterback Jaxon Denton sees an open receiver during a recent 7-on-7 contest. Denton and senior Wyatt Young are vying for starting quarterback for the 2018 football season. Photo by Martelle and Briezie Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Burnet sophomore quarterback Jaxon Denton sees an open receiver during a recent 7-on-7 contest. Denton and senior Wyatt Young are vying for starting quarterback for the 2018 football season. Photo by Martelle and Briezie Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Though Burnet is relying on some inexperienced varsity players right now, Rye said coaches are happy with what they are seeing.

Before 2017, the Bulldogs made it to the 7-on-7 state tournament eight years in a row:

• 2009 – Burnet fell to Graham 50-29 in the quarterfinals of the championship bracket after finishing in the top two of pool play.

• 2010 – the Bulldogs lost 36-29 in the consolation final to Graham.

• 2011 — Burnet lost 35-12 in the first round of championship bracket play to Wimberley.

• 2012 – Burnet fell to Graham 40-24 in the semifinals of the championship bracket after beating Stephenville 44-42 in overtime in the first round of bracket play, Worthing 26-21 in the next round, and Liberty 34-28 in the quarterfinals.

• 2013 – Graham defeated the Bulldogs in the second round of the championship bracket 49-47 in overtime.

• 2014 – Burnet made it to the second round of the consolation bracket, where they lost 39-26 to Rice Consolidated.

• 2015 – The Bulldogs qualified for the championship bracket, where they beat Eastland 39-20 in the first round and Worthing 38-22 in the second round and lost to Navasota 55-27 in the quarterfinals.

• 2016 – The Bulldogs lost 27-21 in the first round of the championship bracket to Mineral Wells.

No Burnet 7-on-7 team has been able to top what the 2003 squad did. Quarterback Stephen McGee and receiver Jordan Shipley led Burnet to the championship game, where the Bulldogs lost 41-27 to Odessa Permian. The Bulldogs finished the 2003 year with a second appearance in the Class 3A Division I state championship game in December, losing to Gainesville 35-24.

The 7-on-7 Division II state tournament is Thursday-Friday, June 28-29, at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex, 3101 Harvey Road in College Station. Go to texas7on7.org for more information on the state tournament.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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