More than ‘Boot’ at stake Friday
Although there was a little more pep at the start of practices on Monday, the football coaching staff’s at Burleson and Centennial are approaching preparation for the “Hall of Fame/Boot Game” as if it were just another District 9-5A game.
“It’s a district game no matter who it is,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy said. “We will turn around next week and the conversation will be the same. It’s anyone’s district title right not but the next few week’s will go a long way to determine who is going to win it and we need to make sure that we take care of business and are on the positive end of things.”
Burleson (3-3, 2-1) faces Centennial (5-1, 2-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Burleson ISD Stadium before a probable sell out crowd according to BISD athletic director Phil Anderson.
The Elks will be looking to maintain control of “The Boot” for the fourth consecutive year while the Spartans will be trying to return the rivalry trophy to their campus for the second time. Burleson leads the all-time series, 3-1.
Hoisting the “The Boot” following a win Friday night would be gravy compared to the district victory that goes with it.
“With the season getting close to the end every win is going to be important,” McElroy said. “There’s no denying that. This district is going to be knotted up until the end. I don’t think anything is going to be settled until Week 10.”
A home loss to Everman last week has Burleson needing a win on Friday to keep the Elks near the top of the district race. The trouble for the Elks is that their final three 9-5A games are against another rival Cleburne (1-2 in district), second-place Arlington Seguin (2-1) and district-leading Crowley (3-0).
“The players know what week it is and they know what we need to accomplish,” McElroy said. “They aren’t oblivious to who we are playing. They know not coming out on top last week puts us in a little bit of a bind. It’s like I told them Saturday and Monday ‘It’s not time to hit the panic button yet but we need to hit the accelerator pedal for sure.”
After dropping its 9-5A opener at Crowley, the Spartans have knocked off Cleburne and Seguin the past two weeks. While the Elks face an end-loaded district slate, Centennial’s last three games are against Granbury (1-2 in 9-5A), Joshua (0-3) and Everman (1-2).
“A win will put us in good standing as far as the district race goes, that’s the most important thing,” Geller said.
The 9-5A victory is the ultimate goal for Geller and Spartans but beating their crosstown rival and possibly putting the Elks in a tough situation playoff wise would be nice. Centennial’s seniors last saw “The Boot” when they were freshmen.
“This is a big game. The players and coaches want to end the streak. The biggest thing is getting a win in district play and if we also beat our crosstown rival that makes it that much better. I don’t have any hatred toward those guys what’s so ever.”
Geller and his staff have their players approaching this game as any other.
“It’s the exact same schedule,” Geller said. “We practice the same amount of time and we prepare our very best. That’s what you do no matter who you play. You don’t want to play the game on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. You want to play the game on Friday.”
Both coaches have a great deal of respect for each other’s program and see the game turning on the usual things like turnovers and penalties.
“Their offense is concerning because you never get to see it anymore. That always poises some challenges,” McElroy said of the Spartans’ triple-option attack. “We have to play sound responsibility football against these guys. They are good at what they do. You can’t be out their guessing on defense.”
McElroy added that if the Elks want to win on Friday they have to “stay level-headed and not let the game be bigger then it is. We can’t worry about the crowds or social media. We just have to go out and play football.”
Geller had praise for both the Elks on offense and defense. He termed quarterback Hayden Whitten “a nifty player that runs well, throws well and operates the offense well.”
Burleson offensive player-maker Jaylen Johnson was acknowledged by Geller as a special as far as what he can do with the ball.
“They stack up as a good defensive team,” Geller said. “They have some really good players of defense. Their defensive ends are good and their nose guard is good.”
For those in the sellout crowd Friday night, it should be a game worthy of the price of admission.