STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The road to the playoffs doesn’t get any easier for the Burnet High School football team as they welcome Fischer Canyon Lake on Friday, October 18.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Field, 1400 Bulldog Stadium Drive in Burnet.
The Hawks (5-1, 1-0) enter district contest after a 41-7 win against Taylor last week. Burnet (4-2, 01) looks to bounce back after losing to Lampasas, 45-13.
Burnet head coach Jerod Rye said he has reviewed the game film from Canyon Lake’s 7-0 win against Marble Falls in season opener.
“They are much better than they were in week one,” he said. “They run the ball and play great defense. We know it’ll be a challenge.”
Canyon Lake operates the slot-T offense, a run-based scheme that uses misdirection and confusion with the aim of controlling the clock and wearing down offenses.
Sophomore running back Shackquiel Scott has 470 yards and three touchdowns on 54 carries, senior running back Nic Rivera has 290 yards and three scores on 36 carries, and senior running back Ethan Slater has 244 yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries.
Junior quarterback Peyton McMullen has 16 of 53 completions for 267 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions and has 158 rushing yards and a score on 37 carries. Sophomore receiver Jeremy Greene has six catches for 129 yards and a score.
“They have three or four kids who carry the ball and can hurt you,” Rye said. “They throw it well for a slot-T team.”
Defensively, the Hawks give up an average of 17 points a contest and have two shutouts this season. They have recovered 13 fumbles and recorded four interceptions through six games. Senior defensive end Alex Hardin has one interception and three fumble recoveries. A trio of seniors lead in tackles: safety Stephen Sharp with 36 and linebackers Kyle Wharton with 35 and Daniel Neel with 31.
“They’re physical,” Rye said. “Our offensive line has to hold on to blocks and keep them off the quarterback. Their defensive linemen are all good players, and their inside linebackers are good as well.”
The Bulldogs will operate its version of the spread offense led by junior quarterback Matthew Tippie, junior running back Marcus Escamilla, senior receivers Blayne Burkhalter and Brayden McPherson, and junior athlete Jaxson Denton.
Tippie has 88 of 151 completions for 1,276 yards, 21 touchdowns, and no interceptions, while junior running back Marcus Escamilla has 95 carries for 488 yards and five touchdowns. Burkhalter has 30 receptions for 564 yards and nine touchdowns.
As for the loss to Lampasas, a squad that’s been ranked in the top 10 in many Class 4A polls, Rye said the Bulldogs understood the challenge from the start.
He noted that Burnet had its chances, but penalties wiped out big plays that would have gotten the Bulldogs closer to the red zone offensively, and Lampasas junior quarterback Ace Whitehead made plays for his team when it needed them the most.
“I was proud of our kids’ efforts and the way we executed,” Rye said. “Big-time players have to make big-time plays.”