BURKBURNETT, TX (KAUZ) - Tuesday night, our high school Training Camp Road Trip starts District 4-4A Div. I with the Burkburnett Bulldogs. They had a tough break early in camp, losing their starting quarterback to a knee injury, but they're staying positive.
"The guys are really excited," said head coach Scott Boswell. "You know, football season every year just brings that vibe, and it's just an electricity. It's just a lot of fun to get out here."
The Bulldogs hope to make it back to the playoffs this year. But if they do, it will be without their starting QB from last season, Mitchell Jennings. He went down in practice at the end of the first week of training camp, tearing his ACL and ending his high school career.
"We're looking to pick up right where we left off," Coach Boswell said. "We lost Mitchell Jennings, our quarterback from last year, but he's been here every day, and he's been helping the guys. He's been coaching them up."
Losing Jennings on the field will be a big blow for Burkburnett, but having him around the team and on the sidelines can help the younger players get up to speed faster.
"I just try to put them in game-situation scenarios," Jennings said. "I just try to point out certain things they need to work on. This throw, that throw, just certain things that will make their game better."
"We've got [an extra] coach on the staff," Coach Boswell said. "And we've got a couple of guys we have been rolling through there and getting reps at quarterback. They are doing a really good job learning those paces and just trying to get themselves in the right spot at the right time and deliver the ball, and just learning the offense. I think the mantra is, 'Let's go, next man up you know we got to pick up the slack.' So everybody has responded really well To that."
Junior quarterback Jacob Acheson will take over for Jennings at QB. The transfer student from Hurst L.D. Bell HS was expected to play wide receiver this year, but will now take over the reins of QB, with sophomore Marcus Jackson being the backup.
"He's good, he's looking real good," said senior running back Kolby Youngblood. "You know everybody makes mistakes, but he just keeps on working and keeps on working. He gets better everyday."
"They both do some different things," said Coach Boswell of his two quarterback options. "Marcus is a very good runner, and he's developing his passing game. Jacob, on the other hand, is a very good passer, and he's a pretty decent runner. He's new to us. He's moving here from the Metroplex and we're just learning what he can do. So as he grows, as both of them grow in the offense, we'll learn a whole lot more about what their strengths and weaknesses are."
Despite having a new quarterback, the Bulldogs bring back some talented skill players. They think having playmakers on the outside will help ease the transition for Acheson.
"The receiving corps is going to have to be the one that we hang the hat on," Coach Boswell said. "All of them know that we've got to make the quarterback look good, and that's what we're really striving to do: go outside of our comfort zone, outside of our hula hoop, and catch a ball that's not necessarily right between our numbers. So, those guys have been working really really hard at trying to get their routes right, and running them on time, and doing everything to make themselves the biggest viable part of the offense. So, really looking forward to big things out of those guys."
On defense the Bulldogs lost some starters to graduation, but they still expect to have a hard-hitting defense in 2016 with the players they have coming back.
"I'm expecting a hard hitting, physical, defense that's always ready for anything that the other offense throws our way," said senior linebacker Jessy Upchurch, who also plays offensive line.. "If they are going to be running, we should be on the ball, eleven men on one spot. If it's a pass, we're going to be dropping into our zones like we are supposed to. With eleven men on the ball, everyone on the field should be running to him and team tackling."
"We have nice safeties," said Youngblood, who lines up at linebacker on defense. "We have a good defensive line. Our line is pretty big this year, so we're good at that and we can get to the ball."
"We are looking forward to a lot of guys just getting out there and staying hungry, showing us what they've got," said Coach Boswell. "You know, we've got a lot of shoes we've got to fill on that side of the ball, too. We had a large senior class that graduated. And like you said, some younger guys that are stepping up and filling holes and showing us what they've got. We're looking for guys that are going to line up right. They are going to read their key, and they are going to know that their assignment is and just run to the ball with relentless passion. Get to the football and make something happen."
If Burkburnett can overcome the early injuries at quarterback, they could be in the hunt for a playoff spot in a district with some tough competition at the top, including state-title contender Argyle, Sanger and Decatur.
The Bulldogs open their season on Friday night, August 26th at 7:30 p.m. as they travel to face rival Iowa Park in our Week 1 Dr Pepper Game of the Week!
On Wednesday, we'll wrap up District 4-4A Div. I, and begin looking at WFISD teams, with the Hirschi Huskies!
Burkburnett Bulldogs 2016 Schedule
Aug. 26 at Iowa Park, 7:30
Sept. 2 vs Bridgeport, 7:30
Sept. 9 at Vernon, 7:30
Sept. 16 vs Graham, 7:30
Sept. 23 at Mineral Wells, 7:30
Sept. 30 BYE
Oct. 7 vs Gainesville, 7
Oct. 14 at Sanger, 7*
Oct. 21 vs Hirschi, 7*
Oct. 28 vs Decatur, 7*
Nov. 4 at Argyle, 7*