Breckenridge Texan

Coach Casey Pearce takes a look at Buckaroos’ upcoming opponents before tonight’s district opener

Coach Casey Pearce takes a look at Buckaroos’ upcoming opponents before tonight’s district opener
October 07
08:53 2022

By Brant Thurmond/Breckenridge Texan

Call it perfect, undefeated, unbeaten, dominant …whichever you choose could easily describe the Breckenridge Buckaroo football team’s first five games of the 2022 season.

The Bucks have seen a great deal of success in five games, including wins over the ranked Cisco and Childress teams and dominant victories over Benbrook, Jacksboro and Eastland, and are a perfect 5-0 heading into District play for the first time since 2006.

Ask any coach in the state, and they will be quick to tell you that the non-district schedule doesn’t mean much, but rather it’s the district games that count the most.

And that is crucially true for the Buckaroos. Even though they are 5-0, what they do in the next five games will ultimately determine their fate if they want to make it to the state playoffs.

With four of the six teams from District 3-3A Division 1 advancing to bi-district, the Bucks have a really good shot at making the playoffs. But for Buckaroo head coach Casey Pearce, there are bigger things in the hunt for the Buckaroos, who have their sights set on a district championship.

“Ultimately, we want to play for that gold ball and district championship,” Pearce said. “I think people this day and time play to get in the playoffs. I want us to become where we are playing for that district title. Those gold balls are very important, and they don’t come easy. We need to play for that. It needs to be on our radar. It needs to be important these next five weeks.

“We need to do it one week at a time, and, beyond that, we need to win a playoff game,” the coach continued. “If we can win a playoff game, it kind of gets the table set, and once the first one is over with, now the tournament is on and a little luck plays into that, health plays into that and who you draw does too.”

If the Buckaroos claim the district championship, it will be their first district championship since 2017, when the Bucks started the season 0-5 finished district with a perfect 5-0, defeating Brock with a game-winning field goal with less than five seconds left in the game.

The road to a district championship will not come easy for the Bucks with back-to-back road games against former 4A schools in Iowa Park and Vernon to start the district schedule.

Iowa Park is 1-4 heading into district with their lone win coming over Benbrook, 63-21. Their losses were to Holliday (28-7), Burkburnett (29-22), Graham (31-17) and Wichita Falls (34-7).

Vernon heads into district with a 3-2 record with wins over Wichita Falls City View (56-0), Gainesville (36-24) and San Angelo Lake View (23-12). Vernon’s two losses came from Idalou (17-0) and Burkburnett (35-30).

The road to 5-0

The Buckaroos have dominated from the start of the season with their closest game coming in week three against Cisco where they came out with a 30-27 win over the Loboes.

The other four wins came with an average advantage of 36.25 points over their opponents.

The Bucks defeated Jacksboro (42-13), Childress (35-8), Eastland (62-12) and Benbrook (56-17) in their other four games of the pre-district schedule.

Coach Casey Pearce and the Breckenridge Buckaroos celebrate their victory over the Cisco Loboes on Sept. 9. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

In the first five games, the Bucks averaged 42 points per game, while allowing 15.4 points per game defensively. The defense held opponents to an average of 261.6 yards per game with an average of 82.4 rushing yards per game and an average of 261.6 yards passing per game.

The Bucks never trailed in any of their first five games and picked up two wins against ranked opponents in Cisco and Childress, while climbing their way up to No. 7 in the latest rankings by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

“It’d be a test if someone jumped out on us and we have to start chasing,” Pearce said of having to play from a deficit for first time this season. “Number one, we better be able to respond on offensive side and go get some points back. Number two, our defense is responding to adversity, I feel like, because they have been put in some situations with turnovers or drives ending on fourth down, and they have stepped out and made plays. That’s a little bit of an indication of the type of football team that we have. This next stretch, we are going to see some different adversity, and how we handle that is going to be huge.”

Pearce noted the importance of being appreciative of the being 5-0 to start district but stressed the importance of the district games.

“We are appreciative of the opportunity to win those first five (games),” Pearce said. “We better appreciate the success, because it has been a process to get to that point. But right now, you got to kind of put that on the back burner. You can look back on it at the end of the year. The next five are the ones that count, and it’d be great to go 5-0 in this next stretch. That would mean more than those first five.”

One of the many things that the Bucks have been able to accomplish in the first five games is being balanced on the offensive side of the ball. The Bucks have seen success in both the rushing attack and the passing game and have had several players get involved within the offensive attack.

“We have been fairly balanced as far as our run-pass percentage. We don’t have any glaring tendencies when we have self-scouted,” Pearce said. “I think the biggest thing is we have been able to disperse the workload on different people and they have been able to step up and handle the work. That’s big because you never know when you have to rest a kid on offense or defense. Whoever you are plugging and playing with better be able to handle the offensive play call and execute.

“We have been able to do that, and we have done that even in the offensive line, which is usually a place where people try to lock in and play just a set group,” he continued. “We have played about seven offensive linemen fairly consistently. That’s big that we have that kind of depth. Just a mental capacity to go execute with the first group out there is big for us.”

Statistically, the Buckaroos’ rushing attack is led by senior running back Jerry Lawson, who has rushed for 501 yards on 62 carries and has six touchdowns.

Anson Rodgers has been a versatile player for the Bucks who has had success running the ball and catching passes from Chase Lehr. Rodgers has also played a critical role on special teams, as well.

Rodgers carried the ball 44 times for 305 yards and had seven touchdowns to help in the Bucks’ rushing attack. He also has 12 receptions for 169 yards and four touchdowns in five games. Rodgers is statistically the second highest rusher on the team and leading receiver in receptions and touchdowns.

Lehr has completed 45 of 68 pass attempts for 723 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in five games. Lehr has also rushed for 181 yards on 30 carries and has three touchdowns.

Adrian Ruiz has 123 yards on seven receptions and two touchdowns and is the only other Buckaroo player with over 100 yards receiving.

One of the most noticeable things that has been visible for the Buckaroos is the community support for the team.

In the three home games played at Buckaroo Stadium, the home stands have been packed with fans ready to cheer the Bucks on to victory and be supportive.

As district starts, it will be important for fans to continue to show up and support the Bucks and be loud and proud in critical moments of the games, the coach said.

“It is huge for this community and shows that the tradition and the program and things that people still believe in about Breckenridge are still here. It’s not dead,” Pearce said on the community support and fans in attendance. “It’s exciting that we have helped generate that excitement from them to want to be out and see these kids participate, whether it be watch a football game or watch the band perform at halftime or watch our cheerleaders. Putting those bodies in those bleachers is big, coming off the things we have dealt with over the course of the last two seasons and this community has dealt with. It continues to show the resilience here in Breckenridge, I believe.”

With two crucial home games during district (Jim Ned and Clyde), the Bucks will have a chance to have a home field advantage through the fans in attendance.

“When you play in this stadium and you have a big home crowd and it’s loud and it’s on top of you, it’s a unique environment,” Pearce said. “That environment the other night in the Benbrook game, it has been a long time since I’ve seen these seats filled in Breckenridge.”

District 3-3A D1 Breakdown

Clyde Bulldogs (4-1)

Statistically, the Clyde Bulldogs have the second-best overall record at 4-1. The Bulldogs’ lone loss of the season came in week one against the Cisco Loboes, where they were defeated 41-13. Since then, the Bulldogs have had a four-game winning streak over Eastland (26-0), Merkel (41-21), Ballinger (41-19) and Sweetwater (29-28).

The Bulldogs are averaging 30 points per game, allowing 21.8 points per game defensively. Their opponents have an overall combined record of 6-19 through five games.

Blake Carr leads the Bulldogs offensively in both rushing yards and passing yards. Carr has completed 84 of 130 passing attempts for 1,279 yards. He has 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. Carr has also rushed for 416 yards on 67 carries and has four touchdowns.

Fabien Gomez is the second leading rusher with 188 yards rushing on 45 carries and one touchdown.

Garis Gray is Carr’s favorite target and has 489 yards with 19 receptions and three touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs’ receivers. Dai’ Jon Booker is the second leading receiver with 17 receptions for 247 yards and five touchdowns.

The Bucks will host Clyde on Nov. 4 in the district finale.

Vernon Lions (3-2)

The Lions got off to a strong start with three wins in a row over Wichita Falls City View (56-0), Gainesville (36-24), and San Angelo Lakeview (23-12). They finished the non-district schedule with two loses against Idalou (17-0) and Burkburnett (35-30).

Vernon enters district play averaging 29 points per game offensively and allowing 17.6 points per game defensively. The Lions’ opponents have a combined record of 13-14.

Individual statistics were not available at the time of this article.

 Jim Ned Indians (2-3)

The Indians started the season 0-3 with losses to Hawley (30-7), Holliday (41-19) and Wall (3-0). Since the 0-3 start, the Indians have won two games with a 22-21 win over Rockdale and a 48-17 win over Eastland to close out the non-district schedule.

Jim Ned heads into district averaging 19.4 points per game and allowing 22.2 points per game.

The Indians, who were without several key players to start the season, are led statistically by Brayden Shipman, who has rushed for 309 yards on 65 carries and has one touchdown in five games.

Gray Beasley also has over 300 yards rushing with 305 yards total on 49 carries and has one touchdown, while Troy Doran has 201 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown through the Indians’ first five games.

Doran has also completed 17 of 26 passing attempts for 217 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Doran is also the Indians leading receiver with 10 receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown.

Grant Glidewell has also played the quarterback position for the Indians and has completed 22 of 33 passing attempts for 215 yards and has two passing touchdowns and three interceptions.

Jim Ned’s opponents have an overall combined record of 15-10 through five games.

Iowa Park Hawks (1-4)

The Hawks have just one win heading into district with a 63-21 win over Benbrook in week two. Since then, the Hawks have lost three games in a row to Burkburnett (29-22), Graham (31-17) and Wichita Falls High (34-7). The Hawks opened the 2022 season with a loss to Holliday (28-7) in week one.

Iowa Park averages 23.2 points per game offensively while allowing 28.6 points per game defensively.

The Hawks’ opponents have a combined record of 17-11 through five games.

Individual statistics were not available at the time of this article.

Bowie Jackrabbits (0-5)

Bowie heads into district play still searching for their first win of the 2022 season.

The Jackrabbits lost back-to-back games by a combined four points – Bridgeport (63-62) and Henrietta (29-26) – before losing their final two games by a more substantial margin to Burkburnett (41-16) and Childress (49-22). The Jackrabbits were defeated by Graham in their season opener 41-22.

Bowie heads into district play averaging 29.6 points per game while allowing 44.6 points per game.

The Jackrabbit opponents have a combined record of 19-9.

Individual statistics were not available at the time of this article.

District outlook from Coach Pearce

Iowa Park –

“They are going to be a very physical group,” Pearce said. “They are pretty big up front and have some skilled kids that can expose you.”

Vernon –

“They are a much, much improved football team,” Pearce said. “They got athletes that are traditional athletes that are playing again in that program. They are going to be able to score points and put us in a bind just with their scheme in a Wing- Slot-T type mentality.”

Jim Ned –

“Jim Ned is getting healthy,” Pearce said. “They had 12-15 players out before the first ball game, so that put them behind the eight-ball starting the year, but they have started getting their pieces back together.”

Bowie –

“They are struggling right now,” Pearce said. “It has been a while since they won a ball game in that program. It’s a tough turnaround.”

Clyde –

“I think Clyde is the scariest one of them all,” Pearce said. “They have put up points; they have won close games and are doing some things in that program to get it turned around. We can’t look too far down the road, but that last ball game could be a big one. We need to take care of this first one.”

District 3-3A Schedule

Oct. 7

  • Breckenridge at Iowa Park
  • Jim Ned at Bowie
  • Vernon at Clyde

Oct. 14

  • Iowa Park at Bowie
  • Breckenridge at Vernon
  • Clyde at Jim Ned

Oct. 21

  • Vernon at Iowa Park
  • Bowie at Clyde
  • Jim Ned at Breckenridge

Oct. 28

  • Iowa Part at Clyde
  • Vernon at Jim Ned
  • Breckenridge at Bowie

Nov. 4

  • Jim Ned at Iowa Park
  • Clyde at Breckenridge
  • Bowie at Vernon

 

Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge High School head coach Casey Pearce talks to the varsity football team after their win over the Eastland Mavericks. The 2022 Buckaroo team plays their first district game of the season on Friday, Oct. 7, in Iowa Park. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 


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