Breckenridge Texan

Coach Pearce describes 2023 Buckaroos as ‘resilient’ as they start district play on Friday against Iowa Park

Coach Pearce describes 2023 Buckaroos as ‘resilient’ as they start district play on Friday against Iowa Park
October 05
17:35 2023

By Brant Thurmond/Breckenridge Texan

It’s time to throw out all the records and hit the reset button for the Breckenridge Buckaroo football team as they are set to start the district 3-3A campaign and chase the district title.

The Buckaroos will officially open the district portion of the 2023 football season Friday, Oct. 6, against the Iowa Park Hawks at 7 p.m. in Buckaroo Stadium.

Breckenridge enters the game with a 3-2 overall record and are on a three-game winning streak after starting the season with back-to-back losses against Jacksboro and Childress, while Iowa Park enters the game 1-4 overall with their lone win coming in week three against Burkburnett, 34-14.

Statistically, Iowa Park has had the strongest non-district schedule out of all the district opponents with their opponents having an overall combined record of 16-9.

The Hawks have averaged 18.6 points per game offensively and have allowed 32.6 points per game defensively, which ranks them at fourth and fifth respectively, compared to other district 3-3A teams.

Buckaroo running back Sawyer Wimberley scores the first touchdown of the Sept. 22 game against the Benbrook Bobcats. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The Buckaroos go into Friday’s district opener averaging 34.8 points per game offensively and allowing 30 points per game defensively, which ranks them tied for second place with Vernon in offensive points and fourth overall in points allowed.

Head coach Casey Pearce said he has been pleased with the progress the Bucks have made over the first five weeks of the season.

“I feel like the first five weeks have started to define this group,” Pearce said. “We had some adversity to start off and found a way to get through it and get a win against Cisco and hang on for one against Eastland and Benbrook.

“Overall, they are a competitive group and they are going to fight for one another. They are enjoyable to practice with,” he said. “That gives you a chance when you can show up Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and not dread it on the coaches’ side and the players’ side. That’s been a lot of fun this year.”

The Bucks will control their own destiny, and Pearce stressed the importance of starting district with a win.

“Where we are headed – we control. We got to find a way to win the first one because you can’t win a district championship without winning that one,” he said. “We need to get after Iowa Park and move forward and make progress and continue to grow as a football team.”

One of the biggest challenges at the start of the season was replacing a talented group of players from the 2022 season and having several young players that had not experienced playing at the varsity level.

Pearce noted how several players have stepped up to fill the spots and spoke on that progress within the team within the offensive line and quarterback play. He said that he hopes to continue to balance the rushing attack by getting several different players involved.

“The biggest deal is finding some continuity in the offensive line. We have grown their mentality in the capacity in what we are trying to do there,” Pearce said. “Cam has become more comfortable, and the skill players around him have figured out ways to step up and make it a better situation for Cam throwing the football.

“Then with what Sawyer has done rushing is dang sure impressive. We got to continue to find other backs. I think Jaime Cruz and Jack (McKay) and Hunter Eaton and AJ Franco,” Pearce said. “The spots that they have gotten carries have been pretty dynamic, and we got to continue to sprinkle them in there. I think what you saw against Childress was to key number 30 (Wimberley). That was their plan was to go attack him every time and hope they landed.”

Defensively, the Bucks are starting to hit their stride with player alignment, defensive line rotation and the plays made from the linebacker group and secondary.

“Figuring out our linebacker group has been huge. I think our secondary is settling in, and our defensive line rotation is starting to get better,” Pearce said. “We got to start killing explosive plays by not allowing those. I talk about it all the time, but the 50/50 balls at some point come back to you and you’re able to go get them. They came back to us in the Cisco ballgame, and we were able to have five takeaways.

“Our takeaway margin has got to improve. Our explosive plays has to improve,” Pearce continued. “What’s going to give us that chance is the way we are lining up and putting our secondary shell out there is much improved. They (Benbrook) put us in a little bit of a bind the other night, and we had a little bit of panic. I think it’s correctable. That’s going to allow us to knock that points-per-game total down.”

Pearce noted the importance of the offense continuing to produce. “What can’t happen is us not produce offensively,” he said. “At some point, there’s going to be a ballgame where we are going to have to lean on our defense to keep us in it. We did that early in the season when we were able to get some takeaways and give it back to the offense.”

One of the bright spots for the Bucks throughout their three-game winning streak to close out the non-district schedule was the ability to get crucial stops late in the game.

The Buckaroo defense came away with a fumble late in the game against Benbrook that ultimately put an end to a potential game-tying drive.

“The biggest deal is, there is not a quitter in the group. They have been able to weather the storm and find ways to get off the field,” Pearce said. “We were able to get pressure to the quarterback late. We got to be a pressure defense in timely situations. We got to be able to land that pressure and not allow it to flush and escape and then a ball go up that is unexpected where it’s going. The defense has responded the right way and they are going to continue to respond. We are going to get better every week.”

With several new faces that have embraced their role on the Buckaroo team this year, Pearce categorized the team as resilient.

“When I think of this group to describe them is they understand the expectations and they got guts,” Pearce said. “So if you categorized that as a trait, I would say resilient. They reflect one another’s personalities because the 25 guys in that locker room have overcome some type of adversity at some point seven weeks into the season. They have had each other’s back. They are pretty special. They show up day in and day out and try to trust one another. It has been very non-verbal in the leadership pieces. It’s a little bit different than what I have been around with good teams, but they are very reflective in the play of good teams that I have been around with how they have kept each other moving forward and kept each other out of a bad place mentally.”


Five games into the season and Vernon and Clyde sit on top of the standings at 5-0, while Jim Ned (4-1) and Breckenridge (3-2) hold the second and third spot and Iowa Park (1-4) and Bowie (1-3) round out the bottom half of the standings.

In addition to the Iowa Park Hawks, which are discussed above, District 3-3A includes the following teams:

(At Buckaroo Stadium)

The Lions averaged 34.8 points per game offensively and allowed an average of 15 points per game defensively through five games. They are tied for second in most points per game offensively and rank first among district opponents in points allowed per game.

The Lions’ opponents have an overall record of 10-14 through five games, which ranks last in strength of schedule based off opponent records.

Vernon picked up wins over Wichita Falls City View, Gainesville, San Angelo Lakeview, Idalou and Burkburnett.

(At Indian Stadium in Tuscola)

Jim Ned looks to be the overall favorite to win the district again. The Indians are averaging 29.6 points per game offensively and are allowing 16.2 points defensively through five games.

The Indians’ opponents have a combined record of 12-11, which ranks third overall in strength of schedule based off opponent records.

Jim Ned’s only loss of the season came in week five with a 21-19 loss to the Eastland Mavericks, who were winless at the time.

The Indians had wins over Hawley, Holliday, Wall and Rockdale before losing to Eastland.

“Jim Ned had some kids not play against Eastland. With Eastland being 0-4, I think they probably felt like they could get through that ball game, get to the open date and get people healthy,” Pearce said. “Jim Ned is still the same Jim Ned that everyone ranked them at 10 a week ago. They are not worse. Teams slip up and have a bad night. To me, Jim Ned is the front runner (in district).”

(At Buckaroo Stadium)

The Jackrabbits enter district play with an overall record of 1-3 after their week three game against Henrietta was canceled due to weather.

Bowie’s lone win of the season came in week two against Bridgeport when they won 23-9.

The Jackrabbits have averaged just 17.7 points per game offensively and have allowed 35 points per game defensively, both which put them at the bottom of the rankings in points per game and points allowed per game among district opponents.

Bowie’s opponents have a combined overall record of 10-10, which ranks fifth in strength of schedule based off opponent records.

(At Bulldog Stadium in Clyde)

The Clyde Bulldogs come into district play on a hot streak of five consecutive wins and are undefeated at 5-0.

The Bulldogs picked up wins over Cisco, Wall, Merkel, Ballinger and Sweetwater and lead the district in points per game at 48 points, while ranking third defensively by allowing 22.6 points per game.

“The Carr kid is good football player,” Pearce said. “He is their leading rusher and obviously, their leading passer. They have leaned on him heavily, and he has come through for them. If he stays healthy, that Vernon-Clyde game is going to be a deciding factor in the district championship.”

Pearce played out a few scenarios that could fall into place for the Bucks in the district but stressed the importance of starting of the district schedule on the right foot with a win.

“If you look at our first two weeks, if we took care of our business, they could be a huge deal for us going into the Bowie and Clyde weeks,” Pearce said. “It could be a for real chance that if we went 2-0 to start this thing or 3-0 to start this thing, we could play for a district title against Clyde. Or if Vernon beats Clyde in week one, it turns our second district ball game into a huge game for us.”

“The biggest thing is the week one game, because if we can be 1-0, we got a shot,” Pearce said. “That’s the bottom line. It would be a step in the right direction to go get the first one somehow some way.”


Oct. 6

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

Oct. 13

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

Oct. 20

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

Oct. 27

  • Bowie at Breckenridge (Senior Night)
  • Clyde at Iowa Part
  • Jim Ned at Vernon

Nov. 3

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

 All games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., and tickets for Buckaroo home games cost $5 for adults (general admission) and $3 for students (general admission). Tickets must be purchased online at HomeTown Ticketing (click here). Tickets to the Jim Ned and Clyde games will be available on their school district websites the week of those games.

The varsity Buckaroo football team celebrates their 41-35 win over the Eastland Mavericks in the Sept. 15 Homecoming game. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline top, photo: Coach Casey Pearce leads the Buckaroos across Chelsey Field to shake hands with the Cisco Loboes following Breckenridge’s 41-6 win. Click here to see all of the 2023 Buckaroo Football stories on the Breckenridge Texan so far this year, and click here to see the Photo Galleries. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)



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