Breckenridge Texan

Head Coach Casey Pearce talks about what to expect from Buckaroos football this season

Head Coach Casey Pearce talks about what to expect from Buckaroos football this season
August 26
12:00 2021

By Brant Thurmond/Breckenridge Texan

The time has come for high school football players across the state of Texas to strap on the pads and enjoy the glow of the Friday night lights once again as the 2021 football season kicks off this Friday, Aug. 27.

Breckenridge High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Casey Pearce says the Buckaroos have made progress and he’s looking forward to a successful season. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The Breckenridge Buckaroos started practice Aug. 2 and have had two scrimmages (Vernon and Mineral Wells) in preparation for Friday’s season opener against the Jacksboro Tigers.

Buckaroo head football coach Casey Pearce says progress has been made and good things are coming for the Buckaroos.

“We were a 1-7 team a year ago and there was ton of retention with these kids, and it made fall camp a lot of fun,” Pearce said. “I think we were efficient with the time we got in the spring after the district track meet, working football. We are in a good spot right now and will take them (the games) one at a time from here on out. I think the kids have some confidence in what they are doing. They look like a different football team than what we were a year ago.”

One of the biggest keys to success as an athletic program, according to Pearce, will be success in the fall.

“The way we start the fall is going to dictate how our whole year goes. Volleyball started off with a bang. Coach Taylor has made a huge difference with our volleyball program,” Pearce said. “It’s my job and this coaching staff’s job to get this football program turned around and headed in the right direction.

“If we get those two things going in September, it’s going to be fun to see this place change,” he said. “It’s going to become a place people want to be instead of place where people stay and then move.”

SEASON PREVIEW

The Buckaroos return several key players, but one of the arguably most important returners will be a senior-led offensive line.

“Our offensive front is really kind of the senior class. There’s not very many skill guys in that senior class,” Pearce  said. “But there’s some offensive linemen that have risen to the challenge and occasion and opportunity. Chad Willcox, Jose Duran, Isaak Eutimio and Trace Thompson. Those guys have done a heck of a job getting us to a point where there is some stability.”

Buckaroo quarterback Chase Lehr scrambles with the football during the scrimmage against the Vernon High School Lions on Aug. 13 in Buckaroo Stadium. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Another challenge for the Buckaroos will be to keep the offensive line healthy and continue to improve as a unit consistently.

“Last year, we didn’t play one game with the same offensive line we finished with at the Mineral Wells scrimmage,” Pearce said. “Their ability to stay healthy and if we keep this group together, they are going to get better every week and it’s going to give us a shot to be very successful up front.”

Senior Chad Wilcox will make the move to center and will help be the backbone and leader of the offensive line, according to Pearce.

“He has really changed his body and his ability to run. His play in space has really improved. I think it’s going to give him a chance really help us move the football,” Pearce said. “Chad is really in tune with what we are trying to get accomplished and is able to just direct traffic. It’s very similar to being the guy on the mound pitching. It’s exciting.”

Among other changes on the offensive line, Isaak Eutimio has made the move to guard.

“He will be our primary pulling guard, and that will give us some really good foot speed in our pulling and power scheme,” the coach said. “It allows Isaak to run off the football and go hit people, and I think he enjoyed being able to do that.”

The Bucks are also looking for big things from lineman Jose Duran as well.

“Jose is one of those that the more reps he gets, the better he’s going to get. It has been good. Very good,” Pearce said.

Another big change in the look of the Buckaroos will be junior quarterback Chase Lehr. Lehr has led the junior varsity squad as quarterback the last two years and is ready to take on the role as a leader at the varsity level.

“Chase has embraced his role since I stepped foot on this campus,” Pearce said. “He understood where he was at a year ago and what he has done to develop himself the way he ran track. Whenever you can win three distance races at the district meet and qualify in three at the area meet, it’s pretty dang impressive.”

Pearce also noted Lehr’s ability to strive to improve each day and put in the work it takes to be successful.

“Nobody can point a finger at that guy about not being a worker. When you have that mentality and show those things, a program and other people are going to respond,” Pearce said. “They respect you just because of the work. You don’t have to be a talker. Chase is a solid leader that is very patient and very savvy on the game of football. He can make some plays that we weren’t able to make a year ago.”

Among the top returning skill players for the Buckaroos are Anson Rodgers, Jerry Lawson, Cedric Baladez and  Zeke Castillo.

Also, look for a big impact from Sean Cooksey in the defensive secondary and Adrian Ruiz as a receiver. Emilio Maya, Caiden Marin and Xander Silva will also look to make a name for themselves, as well.

Offensively in 2020, the Buckaroos struggled to score points throughout the season, averaging 10.7 points per game.

A change in offensive mentality has been developed to help get the Buckaroo offense on track, according to Pearce.

“In the off-season, we have transitioned more to a where can we exploit a match up and to where we are in a better position than what they are,” Pearce said. “I think just analyzing an opponent and alignment has gotten better with this staff. We may throw it 80 times a game. We are going to do what works.”

Adrian Ruiz and his Buckaroo teammates celebrate a touchdown in the scrimmage against the Vernon Lions earlier this month. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Coach Jeremy West has been a big addition to the Buckaroo staff to help with the Buckaroo offense, Pearce said.

“His knowledge of football and the experiences he has had is going to be big for us,” Pearce said. “Adding him to the offensive side of the ball with coach (Jarrod) Sheppard has been huge. Those two dudes are two good minds and are working extremely well together. It’s helping us on both sides of the football with having both of those guys attack us. To me that’s the biggest addition we have made.”

Pearce said a key to success offensively will be efficiency and being able to score points once inside the 20-yard line.

“Taking a possession and making a six-, eight- or 10-play drive and cashing it in will be a big key for us,” he said. “We got to put points on the board where we didn’t last year. We have to be efficient in the redzone.”

Defensively, the Bucks will maintain close to the same defensive approach as last year with eight defensive starters returning.

“The guys that played in the defense a year ago know the structure and have responded extremely well with just retention. Our defensive secondary is still a work in progress with just teaching, learning, seeing and reacting,” Pearce said. “Up front (defensive line), we had Harley Davis move in from Water Valley and that is going to help us.

“We can run up front. We have some quickness and some strength that we didn’t have a year ago,” he said. “I think we have a chance (defensively) to keep the ball bottled up and keep it going sideways and we will have a chance.”

BRECKENRIDGE VS. JACKSBORO

The season opener will start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27, at Buckaroo Stadium.

Jacksboro, which finished 2020 with a 6-5 overall record in District 5-3A Div. II, behind Eastland, will return five offensive and five defensive starters from last year and are picked to finish in second place, once again behind Eastland, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine that was released earlier this summer.

The Breckenridge Buckaroos varsity players watch the action on the field during the Aug. 13 scrimmage. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Some of the key returners for the Tigers include offensive/defensive linemen Cameron Reeves and Andrew Olivarez. The Tigers also return running back Baylor Lakake.

“They are going to be very similar to what we have seen the last two week in our scrimmages,” Pearce said of the Tigers. “They have a little bit spread and run mostly Wing-T, compact formations. They have condensed formations that are going to force you to be able to play.”

Defensively, those guys at Jacksboro do a good job. They run to the ball and tackle well in space,” he said. “We got to be able to put bodies on bodies and give our skill guys a chance to make a cut and maybe make a break away.”

Pearce said the Tigers have a few returners from a year ago but are very young.

“They are playing with about eight sophomores and a small senior class,” he said. “Similar to us, but all those guys have seen playing time.”

A season-opening win will help set the tone in what Pearce hopes will be a winning record, heading into the district portion of the Buckaroos’ schedule.

“These kids need to have some success, and we need to have a winning record going into district play. I think we are capable of that,” Pearce said. “The big thing for these guys is focus on us and control what we can control. We can improve, practice better and do some things more efficiently. Then, when we get a chance to go hit somebody in the mouth, we have to take a shot and see what happens because I think some good things are fixing to happen.”

The rest of the Buckaroos’ non-district is brutal, to put it mildly, with all of the remaining opponents having a playoff run in 2020.

The Bucks will host Ballinger (11-2, Area Finalist in 2020) on Sept. 3 for homecoming before hitting the road to Cisco (10-4, Regional Finalist in 2020) and Eastland (10-4, Regional Finalist in 2020) on Sept. 10 and Sept. 17. The Bucks close out the non-district schedule with a road trip to Holliday (11-2, Regional Semi-Finalist in 2020) on Sept. 24.

Varsity Buckaroo football players, from left, Jerry Lawson, Isaak Eutimio and Harley Davis wait to be introduced during the Meet the Bucks event at Buckaroo Stadium last week. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Buckaroos running back Jerry Lawson evades the Vernon Lions defense in the Breckenridge High School football team’s first scrimmage of the 2021 season. The Buckaroos will play their first regular game Friday night, Aug. 3, in Breckenridge. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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