Breckenridge Texan

As Buckaroos prepare for first football game of 2023, Coach Pearce gives overview of team, season

As Buckaroos prepare for first football game of 2023, Coach Pearce gives overview of team, season
August 21
08:38 2023

By Brant Thurmond/Breckenridge Texan

Noted as one of the most exciting times in Texas, high school football season is upon us and the 2023 football season will get underway this week.

Texas high school athletes, as well as band members and cheerleaders from across the state, have braved 100-degree temperatures the past three weeks leading up to being able to represent their communities this fall in hopes of making it to the championship game at AT&T Stadium in December.

The Breckenridge High School varsity football Buckaroos will open the 2023 season by traveling to Jacksboro to take on the Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, at Tiger Stadium.

The Buckaroos had a dual scrimmage with Fort Worth Castleberry and Gainesville on Aug. 10 and then scrimmaged against Mineral Wells on Aug. 17.

Breckenridge High School Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Casey Pearce talks to the varsity and JV football players during the Watermelon Scrimmage on Aug. 5. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

For the 2023 Buckaroo football team, they are coming off the best year any team has seen in quite some time and the best year yet under Head Coach Casey Pearce, who will start his fourth season as Breckenridge head coach and athletic director.

The Bucks finished the 2022 season 8-3 overall and advanced to the Bi-District round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Paradise. The 2022 season also saw the Bucks start the season 6-0 and climb to inside the top 10 in the Class 3A Division I rankings.

After losing a group of talented seniors to graduation, the Buckaroos will now look for some new faces to make a name for themselves in 2023.

The Bucks return five offensive and defensive starters from the 2022 season and have 17 lettermen returning, as well.

Senior Camden Escalon will take over at the quarterback position after finishing the last three games as the starter in 2022. He threw for 425 yards in five touchdowns.

“I think the situation he (Escalon) came into as the starter last year, he didn’t have a lot of confidence with what he was getting into,” Pearce said. “But right now, I see a guy that has stepped into a role that he embraces and knows that it’s his job and he’s got to take care of it and take care of this football team by leading that position. Right now, we feel like he is in a good place as truly a first-year starter in my opinion.”

Sawyer Wimberley will be the one Pearce and the Buckaroos look for big things from in 2023, carrying most of the load in the running game.

“Sawyer has every tool you could want as a back. His attitude and determination are going to get tested whenever he’s toting the ball more than he did last year,” Pearce said.“My expectation is he’s able to be the guy in our rushing attack that can catch it and run with it and kind of carry the attack on his shoulders and then allow us to utilize others around him to expose defenses based on his performance.”

Jack McKay and Jamie Cruz will each see time carrying the football, as well, for the Buckaroos this year. Pearce also expects big things from Joseph Juneau and Douglas White.

“It’s going to be exciting to see how we run the football with Sawyer Wimberley, Jack McKay and Jamie Cruz,” Pearce said. “I think the dark horse of the whole thing is Joseph Juneau. He and Douglas White both have some unique athleticism. It’s going to be interesting to see how they develop as sophomores this year.

“I think they are going to make a name for themselves. Jamie Cruz already has as a sophomore in my opinion with the way he competed in track,” he continued. “Some of the things that he’s done on the football field have been impressive.”

At receiver, look for Alexis Franco, Brilee Bernal, Bryson Herring to be a few of the main targets for Escalon to throw to.

Pearce commended what he has seen out of Cole Morton, Thomas Dittmar and Herring so far after the two scrimmages.

“Those guys have done a lot of work that has been unseen by a lot of people,” the coach said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how that all comes out. Bryson and Cole have had two good scrimmages.”

Despite losing key players to graduation, one of the biggest bright spots for the Bucks is the success the JV team had in 2022 by finishing the year a perfect 10-0.

“The success of those JV kids has really shown in their confidence and has shown in their retention. We are way further along with our offensive and defensive scheming than we were a year ago,” Pearce said. “Understanding what we are trying to get done is there. They know what the expectation is. Those kids that were apart of a successful JV program have come into the varsity level with a lot more swagger and confidence, and that is huge when you’re trying to build something.”

As far as the overall leadership from the senior class, Pearce said he has been pleased with what he has seen from the seniors.

“So far, it’s been productive. More work than words. That’s not a bad thing,” he said. “I think this group of kids in the varsity locker room care about that JV locker room as much as they do themselves. That’s unique, and you don’t see that type of unselfishness very often, especially with teenage boys. That’s a good thing. The 60 we got playing football right now, they got some care about one another.”

The Bucks will host Childress (7-5 Area Finalist) for their home opener on Sept. 1 before traveling to Cisco (11-3, Regional Finalist) on Sept. 8. The Bucks will host Eastland (1-9) on Sept. 15, before a road trip to Benbrook (1-9) on Sept. 22 to close out the non-district portion of the schedule.

Once District 3-3A I play starts, the Buckaroos will take on Iowa Park (Oct. 6), Vernon (Oct. 13), Jim Ned (Oct. 20), Bowie (Oct. 27) and Clyde (Nov. 3). For a PDF of the latest, updated schedule, click here.

With a tough non-district schedule, Pearce said the goal still remains the same as it does each year.

“It’s a goal we set every year… Be a winning record in non-district and then a winning record in district play,” Pearce said. “Right now, there’s a lot of people that are counting us out after losing the athletes we did a year ago. We need to prove people wrong, outwork folks, and we need to perform at the best of our ability early on to gain some confidence, especially in our offensive line continuity and overall scheme on our offensive side.

“Defensively, we got to be able to create negative plays and get off the field in a timely matter so we can try to put points on the board,” he continued. “Those are some things that I’m going to look for in the first five weeks, and if we are obtaining those from week to week, we are going to have a chance to make a run at the district championship. That’s the expectation going into district, is we make a push to go win one (district championship).

Jacksboro vs Breck

The 2023 season opener will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, in Jacksboro.

The Tigers, who are in their second year under head coach Casey Hubble, finished 8-4 overall, including a 4-1 district record, in 2022 in Class 3A Div. II.

The Tigers return 17 lettermen from last year’s team, including nine offensive and seven defensive starters. A few of the Tiger’s key returners include quarterback Lando Belcher, Cannon Valenzuela and Kaleem Howard.

Belcher threw for 2,869 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2022 and also had 675 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Jacksboro plays in District 5-3A II and is picked to finish second behind Comanche, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine that was released earlier this summer.

A win Friday night would help the Bucks get off on the right path, and Pearce knows it’ll be a battle.

“Jacksboro is a lot more similar to our football team a year ago,” Pearce said. “They are senior-heavy and got some guys that have some dynamic skill at the skill position. They have some big offensive linemen that can move. How they utilize them against us will be interesting. It’s a much-improved Jacksboro football team.

“I think we are still more athletic overall,” he continued. “We are going to have our work cut out for us. Number one, we have to maintain possessions and not turn the ball over and be able to finish drives with points. If we do that, we can stay in the ball game with them and compete.”

For those unable to make it to Friday’s game, the game will be broadcasted on KLXK-93.5 by Lance Kitchens and Charlie Parker. The Resist-All Electric pregame show will start at 6 p.m. with kick-off set for 7 p.m.

The community had a chance to “Meet the Bucks” at the annual event in Buckaroo Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 19. Click here to read more and to see the photo gallery. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


Cutline, top photo: The Buckaroos had an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 5, with the varsity and junior varsity teams alternating time on the field. On Friday, Aug. 25, the varsity team will travel to Jacksboro for the first game of the season. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)




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