STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Who would have thought that after two games, the Burnet and Liberty Hill football teams would be winless in District 14-4A Division I?
The two squads meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 25, at Panther Stadium, 13125 Texas 29 West in Liberty Hill.
“The rivalry of it makes it fun to play,” Burnet head coach Jerod Rye said about the game. “What makes it a big game is the implications. The winner of this game can put themselves in the driver’s seat for the playoff spots. Don’t let 0-2 fool you. Liberty Hill is a good team.”
The Panthers (2-4 overall, 0-2 district) are led junior running backs Trey Seward with 89 carries for 740 yards and eight touchdowns and Blake Simpson with 99 carries for 722 yards and five scores.
Liberty Hill has change-of-pace runners. Seward is the speedster, difficult to tackle in open space, while Simpson is more of the power runner, unafraid of giving punishment.
Rye said the Panthers’ solid offensive line benefits their slot-T offense, a run-based scheme that emphasizes misdirection.
“They play real physical upfront,” he said. “You’re going to see offensive linemen who are getting after it.”
The Panthers defense is led by junior Drake Oberpriller, who has 50 tackles on the season, and sophomore linebacker Andon Thomas with 42 tackles.
Senior defensive end Walker Baty and sophomore defensive end Aaron Brewer help hold things in check from their positions.
“The defensive line is really, really good,” Rye said. “Liberty Hill is fast and physical. They do a great job at getting their kids to rally to the football.”
Burnet (4-3, 0-2) will counter with a spread offense led by junior quarterback Matthew Tippie, who has completed 108 of 196 passes for 1,496 yards and 23 touchdowns and hasn’t thrown an interception.
Junior running back Marcus Escamilla has 114 carries for 538 yards and five touchdowns, and senior receiver Blaine Burkhalter has 38 catches for 630 yards and 10 scores.
This is the fourth slot-T offensive unit the Bulldogs will face this season. Burnet defeated Marble Falls and Sonora in pre-district, but Fischer Canyon Lake prevailed 28-20 last week.
“We did some good things,” Rye said of the loss to Canyon Lake. “We just didn’t do enough of them consistently. You can’t be first-and-15, first-and-20 and expect to overcome that. I thought our defense played really well. I was proud of the way we played.”