Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge Buckaroos prepare to take on Jacksboro in season opener tonight

Breckenridge Buckaroos prepare to take on Jacksboro in season opener tonight
August 26
09:03 2022

By Brant Thurmond/Breckenridge Texan

Lace up your Nikes. Strap on the pads. Put on some face paint. Cheer with the cheerleaders and enjoy the sound of the band. It’s football time in Breckenridge, Texas.

Coach Casey Pearce, in his third year as head coach of the Breckenridge Buckaroos, keeps an eye on the team during the Mineral Wells scrimmage. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Following two weeks of two-a-day practices and two scrimmages, the Breckenridge Buckaroo football team is geared up for what looks to be a promising 2022 season.

The Bucks open the football season by hosting the Jacksboro Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, at Buckaroo Stadium.

The Buckaroos made it to the Class 3A playoffs in head coach Casey Pearce’s second year at the helm in 2021. This year, Pearce and the Bucks will have that playoff experience and a senior-heavy team to help lead them to a successful year and what could be a significant playoff run.

The Buckaroos had a duel scrimmage with Fort Worth Castleberry and Gainesville on Aug. 11 and then hosted Mineral Wells in the most recent scrimmage on Aug. 18.

Pearce said progress has been made thus far into the 2022 season and noted the senior leadership within the team.

“I think we have had two productive scrimmages and are ready to go into the first ball game and compete and try to win our first one,” Pearce said. “That needs to be our focus…us. We need to try to win one at a time and play it a week at a time and not make this ball game any more important than any other one.

“At this point, the senior leadership is showing,” he continued. “We are young in the offensive line, but they’ve come on with it and showed some continuity already that we have struggled with early the last two seasons. It’s nice to see that we can communicate and talk and do some things together without hesitation. I think that has given us the opportunity to be successful here as of late.”

The Buckaroos will return seven offensive and seven defensive starters from the 2021 team, led by several seniors, some of whom have seen playing time at the varsity level since their freshman year.

“It’s a huge deal that they have played that many snaps (on varsity),” Pearce said. “Recognition and reaction for those guys on Friday nights should be better than anybody on this football team because they have had exposure and the ability to get to play.”

One of the biggest strengths this season for the Buckaroos will be the skill position players. The Bucks return Jerry Lawson, Anson Rodgers, Zeke Castillo, Chase Lehr, Adrian Ruiz, to name a few, all of whom are seniors on this year’s team.

Breckenridge Senior Jerry Lawson runs with the ball during last week’s scrimmage against the Mineral Wells Rams. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

“Those skill players are pretty dang good, and by allowing them to cut loose and play, I think the people around them are going to be better,” Pearce said. “They are vocal leaders that lead by example, so we have a chance. I’m excited to see what these seniors bring to the table.”

Rodgers, Lawson, and Lehr are three of the many players to keep an eye on this fall for the Bucks.

“Anson Rodgers is a unique player. He’s a two-way guy that is a really, really good football player,” Pearce said. “He is very instinctive and savvy of what is going on around him and makes things happen.”

Lehr will be in his second year at the quarterback position and has really grown as a player, Pearce said.

“Chase Lehr has come along way mechanically and just in his maturity and in his ability to process things as the bullets are flying,” Pearce said.

Lawson will be leaned on heavily in the running game and has the ability to have a breakout season for the Buckaroo running attack.

“He has every God-given tool that you could ever want on your team,” Pearce said. “He has length, strength, toughness. All those things that make a great football player, Jerry has, and he has an opportunity to showcase that this fall.”

The Bucks will have some rebuilding that will need to take place on the offensive line after losing three starters to graduation in the spring. Look for seniors Adler Loftis, Nando Becerra, Erick Williamson, Nate Aguilar, and Isaiah Lehr to be the backbone of the offensive line. Loftis and Lehr will also be leaned on as key players on the defensive line as well.

“Isaiah Lehr has come a long way since his sophomore year,” Pearce said. “He has become a staple in that offensive line, and I’m proud to see him where he’s at.”

Defensively, expect big things from Castillo and Ruiz.

“Zeke is going to be a defensive leader for us week in and week out and as well in the kicking game as a return specialist,” Pearce said. “It’s going to be exciting to see what kind of things Zeke’s going to do for us.

“Adrian is a very, very dynamic player and his maturity level is through the roof right now,” the coach continued. “That’s exciting to see because he has struggled in the previous season with just being able recover from things that happen on the field and be able to flush a bad play and go make another good play. I’ve seen some very unselfish play out of him this year, and that’s exciting because he can help us turn the corner.”

Another player who can bring another dynamic to the team with overall speed is senior Sean Cooksey, who will see playing time at the receiver and defensive back positions.

“Sean’s confidence just playing football is coming around. The longer he is out here, the more he is exposed, the more reactive he is becoming, and it’s exciting,” Pearce said. “He has speed running out of his ears, and if we can tap that and give him opportunities to utilize those talents, he can really change the complexion of this football team.”

Buckaroo Senior Anson Rodgers evades the Mineral Wells defense in the scrimmage on Aug. 19. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Jacksboro vs. Breck

The season opener will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, at Buckaroo Stadium.

Jacksboro, who finished 5-5 overall in District 5-3A Div. II behind Eastland in 2021, returns nine offensive and nine 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.

Breckenridge Junior Caiden Marin leaps into the air in an attempt to get under a pass during the Mineral Wells scrimmage in Buckaroo Stadium. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Some of the key returners for the Tigers include quarterback Lando Belcher, receivers Kaleem Howard and Peyton Kinman. The Tigers also return running back Jett Davenport and Baylor Laake.

Other key players to watch are Garrett Hubble, Cannon Valenzuela, Jackson McComis, Ryder Jackson and Paul Shackelford.

The Tigers have a new head coach in Casey Hubble, who after six seasons at Breckenridge, left for Class 4A Canton High School before moving to Jacksboro last year. This will be Hubble’s first game back at Buckaroo Stadium since leaving in the spring of 2020.

“I kind of know what Casey Hubble and his staff did here offensively and defensively,” Pearce said. “They are very similar to that right now. We will be prepared for whatever they throw at us. They will probably have some change-ups for us and see how we can handle them.

“What we got to do is get ready for a good football team coming to our place to open the season,” he continued. “It can’t be a Casey Hubble versus a Casey Pearce thought in this locker room or in this coach’s office. It’s about two football teams getting ready to play.”

A win Friday night for the Bucks will help set the tone for the 2022 season as the pre-district portion of the schedule is no walk in the park with opponents having a combined record of 37-20 (including Jacksboro’s 2021 season) and all of which made playoff appearances in 2021.

The Bucks will have their first road game of the season on Sept. 2 as they travel to Childress (9-1, Bi-District finalist) and then return home to host the Cisco Loboes (11-3, Regional Finalist) on Sept. 9. That will be followed by a road trip to Eastland (6-6, Area Finalist) on Sept. 16, and the final pre-district game will be homecoming on Sept. 23 against the Benbrook Bobcats who were 6-5 overall in 2021 and were a Bi-District Finalist.

“Breckenridge has never shied away from competition. That’s just how this place has evolved, and that’s part of the tradition of this place,” Pearce said. “Going to school here, we played Stephenville and Fort Worth Boswell. Those were big ballgames against two 4A teams when we were 3A back in the ’90s.”

“Casey Hubble, Steve Freeman and Ross Dodson never shied away from people in the late ’90s and into the 2000s and to the present,” Pearce said. “I wasn’t going to line up a soft schedule behind those guys. We are going to look for people who know how to compete, and we are going to figure out how to compete.”

Pearce noted the importance of having Cisco and Eastland on the schedule as the rivalry has started to grow.

“Now that Cisco and Eastland have become rivalry games, why would you drop those two games?” Pearce said. “Until you start whipping people within a 60-mile radius of where you live, you might as well keep them on the schedule and see if you can get after them. Those two games we are going to keep, regardless.”

A winning record is among one of the many goals going through the non-district schedule.

“We need to have a winning non-district record going into district,” said Pearce, who was named the Big Country Homepage’s Coach of the Week on Wednesday. “We open two opponents that are dropping down from Class 4A Division II. Just by numbers, those are going to be more competitive people from some of the 3A opponents that left our district a year ago. We better get ready for Vernon and Iowa Park. We open (district) on the road two weeks in a row, so we better get our business together over the course of the first five weeks.”

Click here for the 2022 Varsity Buckaroo Football Schedule.

Anson Rodgers runs with the hand-off from quarterback Chase Lehr in the Breckenridge-Mineral Wells scrimmage last week. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Breckenridge Senior Jerry Lawson runs with the ball during last week’s scrimmage against the Mineral Wells Rams. Lawson, Anson Rodgers and Chase Lehr are three of the many players to keep an eye on this fall for the Bucks. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 


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