STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
In the weeks leading up to the Burnet High School football team’s matchup against Lampasas, Bulldogs head coach Kurt Jones was emphatic in his assessment.
“It’s the best Lampasas team I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said.
Jones served as an assistant coach on Bob Shipley’s Burnet staff almost two decades ago before taking over the head coaching slot, so he’s seen quite a few Lampasas squads.
As Jones was getting the Bulldogs (2-3) prepared for their District 14-4A Division I game against the Badgers (2-3), he stood by his original evaluation.
“They’re a way talented team,” Jones said. “I really feel like they could be 4-1 if not 5-0.”
The two teams kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at Bulldog Field, 1400 Bulldog Stadium Drive in Burnet. It’s the first district game for both.
One of the Badgers’ losses was to La Vernia, a top 10 team in Class 4A Division I. La Vernia won 51-50 in overtime. Jones noted that Lampasas was on the La Vernia 2-yard line but couldn’t stop the clock to run another play.
“That game could’ve gone either way,” he said.
He added that during Lampasas’s 33-27 loss to Gatesville, the Hornets had to recover an onside kick with 41 seconds left to preserve the victory.
The Badgers are led by sophomore quarterback Ace Whitehead, sophomore running back Jack Jerome, and junior split back Cameron Everts. Jones said the Lampasas offense is very similar to the Burnet offense in that it strives for a balanced attack.
“Their skill-position players are very talented,” Jones said. “They throw it around quite a bit. Their wide receivers can spread the field. They have a good running back. Their quarterback can make plays with his arm, but he can take off and run with it. They do a good job in space. They’re as talented in the skill players as anyone we’ve seen.”
Defensively, the Badgers are led by senior middle linebacker Landon Irvin, junior defensive backs Clayton Bever and Koby Allen, senior linemen Rodolfo Esparza and Adam Murphy, and junior lineman Austin Kielpinksi.
“Irvin has a nose for the ball,” Jones said. “They flow to the ball. We’re going to have to be sharp.”
The Bulldogs will counter with sophomore quarterback Jaxson Denton, who has completed 49 of 103 passes for 708 yards, seven touchdowns, and five interceptions and has 38 carries for 148 yards and two scores; sophomore running back Marcus Escamilla with 69 carries for 252 yards and three touchdowns; and junior receiver Blaine Burkhalter, who has 24 catches for 424 yards and seven touchdowns.
Jones said he and Lampasas head coach Troy Rogers exchanged film during the bye week.
The Bulldogs spent their off time doing many of the same tasks they do each week: lifting weights, going through position drills, and running through the playbook. They had three practices.
“We try not to change a whole lot,” Jones said. “We know that, even during a bye week, we still have to get better. The kids worked hard, and we had good practices.”