DAY 1: Elks steamroll Cougars in opener, 58-12
This is the first in a series of 17 football game stories that will tout either a Burleson or Centennial victory. The series is meant to get you excited about the upcoming season and also as a lead up to the release of our 2016 Football Section in our Aug. 18 edition.
FORT WORTH — Burleson has nine regular season football games remaining and Elks’ coach Gary McElroy could live with a repeat of the execution he saw on offense in the season opener in a 58-12 victory over Fort Worth Western Hills at Clark Stadium.
Burleson scored on its first eight offensive possessions of the season. As the Elks took just six snaps in its own territory in the first half, Western Hills (0-1) took one across the 50-yard line and with negative 6 yards of offense in the first two quarters it spelled a 37-0 Elks halftime lead.
“They gave us great field position, and then the offense executed,” McElroy said. “It was a great team effort.”
The play of the defense led to those opportunities to operate almost exclusively in Western Hills territory, McElroy said.
Isaiah Nelson had a team-leading 10 tackles and Jack Collins added seven more, both at inside linebacker, where Burleson’s leading tackler Blaine McRay was lost to graduation. The starting defensive front of tackle Kody Russey and ends Trey Schuman and Corey Freelon played as promised, allowing linebackers to make plays, McElroy said.
Burleson has won consecutive season openers against Western Hills by a combined 121-18 margin.
“We did a lot right,” McElroy said. “We got a tad sloppy, but we were only able to have 1-1/2 practices [in pads] before the game,” because of inclement weather.
In the season opener, Taylor Bissell scored his fifth career receiving touchdown 2:02 into the game on a 50-yard grab from quarterback Preston Paden to spot Burleson a 7-0 lead it would never relinquish. David Tubig’s 10-yard touchdown run 3:49 later and Kobe Slaughter’s 5-yard touchdown run with 2:15 left in the first quarter gave Burleson a 20-0 lead.
Paden struck again 1:50 into the second quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run. After Hayden Whitten converted a 28-yard field goal with 5:19 left in the second quarter, Paden connected with Jaylen Johnson on another 50-yard touchdown strike to stretch out the halftime lead to 37-0.
Paden completed his first 11 pass attempts of the season and 15 of 19 in the game for 182 yards, while compiling 28 yards on six carries.
Slaughter’s 10th career touchdown run on a 68-yard tote came with 3:45 elapsed in the second half. Slaughter led Burleson with 149 yards rushing on 11 carries, including 104 on his final two touches.
Burleson’s bid for its second shutout in the past eight games was erased on the next play when Kamion Bell scored on a 69-yard run that appeared as if it had been whistled dead. Paden responded by connecting with Bissell five plays later on a 16-yard touchdown strike to go up, 51-6, with 6:27 left in the third quarter. Bissell’s 70 yards receiving and two receiving touchdowns were both team highs.
Johnson scored a second time in his first varsity game when he raced through the secondary and 71 yards to paydirt with 1:38 left.
“He was in there without the first team, but [Western Hills] still had in their first-team defense,” McElroy said, naming the sophomore among the pleasant surprises in the season opener. “He made a good run and made some people miss.”
Hayden Whitten was given a chance to convert a career-long 51-yard field goal late in the game. He had the distance, but his kick rang off the left crossbar. The sophomore appeared at receiver, quarterback, as punter twice and converted a field goal and 7-of-7 conversion kicks in the game.
Burleson committed too many penalties, McElroy said. It was penalized 13 times for 118 yards, while officials enforced 28 combined penalties in the season opener.
“They were silly penalties,” McElroy said. “I think some of it was nerves. Some of it was lack of concentration.”