Breckenridge Texan

Buckaroos prepare for tough season, set goals on playoffs

Buckaroos prepare for tough season, set goals on playoffs
August 07
07:18 2019

With two-a-days starting on Monday, the Breckenridge High School Buckaroos’ 2019 football season is officially underway.

Last year, fresh off a 2017 season that saw the Buckaroos overcome an 0-5 start en route to a District 3-3A Division I championship and a 5-0 district record, they had high hopes for the 2018 season. Despite the final 4-7 record, the Bucks remained competitive and, minus a few last-minute scores by opposing teams, that record could have been much closer to .500.

The Buckaroos’ first game of the season will be against the Jacksboro Tigers on Aug. 30 in Buckaroo Stadium. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

In 2019, Breckenridge will look to sealing the close games in order to achieve their goal of making a deep playoff run.

“I believe it comes down to coaching,” Breckenridge head coach Casey Hubble said. “Our kids are going to do what we expect them to do and I believe if we can coach better, we will win those games. I am going to hold myself accountable and the coaching staff accountable. We are going to be accountable to each other from the top down to the bottom up. I believe we let a couple of the games get away from us last year.”

The Bucks finished the 2018 season with a 2-3 district record and were eliminated by the Brock Eagles in the Bi-District round of the Class 3A playoffs.

In 2019, the Bucks will return five offensive and three defensive starters from last season’s team, and Hubble sees a lot of potential heading into this year’s season.

“We have been working our rears off all off season, from a physical standpoint to a schematic standpoint, to make sure we coach our kids to where they know exactly what they are supposed to do and go perform at a very high level,” Hubble said. “We do not have kids that do not try hard, so we have to make it to where they can play hard, fast and with a clear mind. A clear mind makes fast feet.

“That has been our goal over the course of the offseason in implementing those things,” he said. “I believe we are going to be better off offensively, defensively and on the special team side of it. Coach (Lee) Lewis does a great job with our special teams and I expect us to put a great product on the field.”

THE PLAYERS

One of the biggest bright spots for the Buckaroos will be the 2020 senior class that has talent across the board, including several who were on the varsity team as sophomores.

“We got good kids coming back. We have a senior class that has been here since they were in seventh grade,” Hubble said. “This is their sixth year. This is my sixth year. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to work with those guys and make great things happen. … I believe we have a great group of guys that we can build our football team around.”

After an up and down season that was plagued by injuries last year, the Bucks will look for big things from senior Owen Woodward, who returns at the quarterback position.

“Owen has been playing at the quarterback position since his sophomore year and had a rough year as a junior with injuries, but I expect huge things from him this year,” Hubble said. “He’s truly going to be a dual threat quarterback. He worked his tail off all offseason. He does everything. He plays football, basketball. He runs track during baseball season. He had a great baseball season and did a good job in track. He was at every workout, and I believe it is going to pay off.”

Among the senior skill position returners for the Bucks will be running back Kooper Shook and receiver Aaryn Medina, Tristan Garcia, Kyle Canada and Justin Bell.

“Kooper is a kid that didn’t ever play football until last year, and we expect big things out of him,” Hubble said. “We expect Aaryn to be a big threat at receiver, as well.”

The Bucks return some quality players on the offensive line, as well, in seniors Zane McKay and Tanner Cantrell.

The Buckaroos will play their first scrimmage game of the year on Friday, Aug. 16, against Vernon in Buckaroo Stadium. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

“Zane has really grown as a leader for our team. He’s unbelievably strong and is going to be huge for us this year,” Hubble said. “Tanner has turned in to a big ol’ offensive lineman that I expect big things from.”

Other senior contributors with varsity experience will be J.T. Caraway and Johnathan Perez.

The Buckaroo offensive will look close to last year.

“I would call it a power spread. I enjoy the physical style of this game,” Hubble said. “I want to make sure we can always run the football. However, there are a lot of stresses that you can put on a defense by making sure you can attack the defense or field sideline to sideline and then vertically. When you can make sure you can attack all those areas, a defense must make sure they can defend all those areas, which opens up other parts of the field.”

Hubble says the objective is to attack opposing defenses and use multiple formations to keep the defenses off guard.

“If I had to describe our offense, I would say we are going to attack every inch of that football field. We are going to put stress on defenses either by formation, tempo, motions and then the read game,” he said.“The game of football has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and I believe we have a great plan to stress defenses and make them have to defend the whole field. We will know how to attack when they take something away. That’s where, as coaches, we have to be very smart and understanding of our offense in what exactly we are doing. I believe we will be better at that this year.”

THE COACHES

Hubble said there have been some coaching changes in 2019.

Breckenridge alumni Colby Hartfield will step in and fill the role of Offensive Coordinator.

“Colby and I will be working together on the offensive side of the ball, and I believe we are going to take that to another level that we haven’t seen before,” Hubble said. “Since I have been here, we have been very one-sided in our approach. I do not believe we have ever been able to throw the ball as well as we need to in order to be competitive at a high level and win on a consistent basis.”

Coach Brian Valenzuela will take over full reins of the defensive side of the ball after being the Co-Defensive Coordinator the past four years.

“I’m very blessed to have Coach Val as a coordinator,” Hubble said. “He is a guy that I have worked with a lot, and I really trust him with turning that defense completely over to him. I truly believe that he is going to make it better. All our defensive staff is back from last year. I truly believe in those guys, and (we) are very fortunate to have them.”

For extra pointers, Hubble and Valenzuela had the opportunity to go to the University of Alabama this summer and learn from arguably one of the best coaches in college football, Head Coach Nick Saban, as well as coaches Javier Arenas and Rashad Johnson.

Both Arenas and Johnson are All-American football players who spent time at the professional level in the NFL and now coach at Alabama.

“Coach Val and I were able to fly out to the University of Alabama and spent three days out there,” Hubble said. “Their coaching staff was unbelievable and treated us like we were somebody. I greatly appreciate Coach (Nick) Saban, Javier Arenas and Rashad Johnson.

“They taught us everything they did from a coverage standpoint, and we are going to implement some of it,” he said. “I believe it’s going to make us better in our pass coverage. It all fit in with what we were doing and will help us be better. Other than that, you are going to see the same type of defense that we have had, as far as kids coming off the ball and being good tacklers.”

THE SEASON

The road to the post-season will not come easy for the Buckaroos, who are picked to finish fourth in District 3-3A Division I, according to the annual Dave Campbell Football Magazine.

“Our district isn’t getting any easier. They are going to be tough,” Hubble said. “From top to bottom, it is going to be better. I believe we are going to have to be better and that is the expectation. I’m excited about the challenges that go with that.”

The projected top four finishers are exactly how they finished in 2018 with Wall taking the top spot, followed by Eastland, Jim Ned and Breckenridge, according to the magazine. Clyde and Early are the other two teams in the district and are projected to miss out on the post-season.

Eastland quarterback Behren Morton is projected as the Offensive MVP for the district, and Wall’s defensive end Joe Walker is the projected Defensive MVP.

Morton, a heavily recruited Division I college prospect threw for 2,264 yards and 18 touchdowns, while Walker recorded 65 tackles and 12 sacks in 2018.

“Our goal is going to be the same. Get better every week,” Hubble said. “That’s something we have to get better at because there have been weeks where we dropped back a little bit. Our main goal is the same one that it has always been – that is to be playing our best football when the playoffs get here. We want to get in the playoffs and make a deep run. I have started off the year 0-2 and have been fortunate enough to be playing as long as they let you play.

“We want to play great football at the end of the year. We approach things like that,” he said.“We are going to work on being the best we can be at what we do. We are never going to put a big emphasis on one game over another because at the end of the year, it’s about making deep playoff runs, and that is what we want to do.”

The Buckaroos will have virtually the same grueling schedule as last year with just the home/away schedule flipped.

On Friday, Aug. 30, the Bucks will open with Jacksboro at Buckaroo Stadium. Two away games will follow in back-to-back weeks with trips to Comanche and Cisco on Sept.6 and Sept. 13.

The Bucks will have a rematch with Brock on Sept. 20 and then play their final non-district game against Dublin on Sept. 27.

Breckenridge will open District 3-3A play on Oct. 11 by hosting Jim Ned, followed by a road trip to Eastland on Oct. 18 and a homecoming game against Early on Oct. 25.

Senior night will be Nov. 1 against Wall. The Bucks will close out the regular season with a trip to Clyde on Nov. 8.

The home opener against Jacksboro will also serve as the Jerry Tubbs Kick-Off Classic.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Hubble said. “It is going to be a fun year, and I believe we can be the best that we have been since I have been here.”

The Breckenridge High School Buckaroos get in some practice time on Monday morning. (Photo by Tony Pilkington / Breckenridge Texan)

For more photos from Monday morning’s two-a-days practice, click here to see the Breckenridge Texas photo gallery.

 

Story by Brant Thurmond / Special to the Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Casey Hubble talks to the Buckaroos on Monday, Aug. 5, at the team’s first two-a-days practice of the season. To see more photos, click here. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/ Breckenridge Texan)

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