Repping “B-Town” football
Even though they were crosstown rivals in high school, six Burleson ISD football players finished their prep football careers playing for the same team in the 2016 North Texas Bowl, DFW East/West Classic at Bedford’s Pennington Field.
The six players, Burleson quarterback Preston Paden and wide receiver Taylor Bissell and Centennial defensive end Jordan Jackson, linebacker Nathan French and offensive linemen Joe Kuhn and Weston Hunter, helped the West squad rout the East, 36-13.
Playing for the West, the six decided they had to represent Burleson in the game and put their best foot forward.
“I loved playing with Preston and the Centennial guys,” Bissell said. “Our whole motto for the game was that we had to put it on for the city one more time. It was different cheering for the Centennial players when they were out there playing.”
Kuhn said the players went into the game wanting represent their town and be the best football players there.
“We had the attitude that we were playing for all of Burleson,” Jackson said. “We knew we were going to play with a lot of Class 6A players and had to show them what 5A players could do, but we also had to represent B-Town.”
Having played on teams with the Centennial players as kids, Paden said the experience was a good one playing for Burleson.
“It was a little different,” Paden said. “It makes me wish we all could have gone to one high school. I enjoyed it.”
Jackson said he was glad to be playing on the same team with Paden and Bissell.
“It is always nice not having to face Preston and Taylor,” Jackson said. “I played with them when I was younger. I’m close with those guys, so it was nice.”
Shockingly, neither Paden or Bissell scored in the game.
The West team was guided by coach Bob Wager’s Arlington Martin staff and they kept the ball on the ground most of the night. Paden completed 8 of 10 passes and Bissell had three catches. He also had a touchdown negated by a penalty.
“We scored once on a trick play and the rest of the touchdowns came on runs,” Paden said.
During the middle of the game, the coaching staff called for Paden and Bissell and designed a play just for them.
“The coaching staff was pretty cool,” Bissell said. “They drew up a play called ‘Elk’.”
Paden praised Kuhn and Hunter for their run blocking during the game.
“It was pretty cool to play with Preston,” Kuhn said. “He was the quarterback on my third grade team. The game was top-notch. There were so many talented players out there on the field at one time, it was just insane. It was great to get back and play one more high school football game before college.”
Defensively, Bissell said Jackson was going off on defense. Paden said Jackson was “awesome on defense and led the West in tackles.”
“I did alright,” Jackson said. “I was able to hold my own out there. I was up there in tackles, I don’t know how many I made. There is nothing like playing football. It was awesome playing in the summer. They really didn’t get anything going offensively against us. Nathan played really well in the secondary.”
Paden said playing in the all star game was a great experience.
“I’d recommend anyone to play in the game,” Paden said.