Elks’ Johnson top offensive player
Jaylen Johnson didn’t rack up the gaudy eye-popping stats he did his junior year for Burleson’s football team but that was because opponents knew what he could do.
The senior receiver still made his mark this season and the coaches of District 9-5A recoginized his talents and skills as they honored him as Offensive MVP.
“There was not a single game where an opponent was not manipulating their coverage to account for him. He earned enough respect from the other coaches in the district to earn the award,” Burleson coach Gary McElroy said. “We also didn’t go to Jaylen as much this season because we had more offensive options.”
Johnson led the Elks in receiving with 34 catches for 589 yards and five scores. He averaged 17.3 yard per catch. Johnson also carried 14 times for 76 yards and returned two kicks for scores.
“He’s a smart football player,” McElroy said. “He’s really not that big but he’s super athletic. He’s the type of player that can score from anyplace place on the field. He can make people miss.”
The Elks had a great season posting an overall record of 10-2 while finishing 6-1 in 9-5A play. Burleson was second in district play behind undefeated Everman. The Elks lost to regional finalist Mansfield Legacy in the first round of the playoffs.
McElroy said the 27 members of the senior class played a crucial role this season. Three seniors started on offense and five started on defense but all the seniors contributed in some way.
“This was a great senior class,” McElroy said. “Not all of them played a lot. I can’t say enough about this senior class. I’m so grateful for them. They had a great attitude and work ethic. This is the first class that has gone through with us since seventh grade. They bought into what we were selling. This team figured out early they could play hard and win and it just took.”
McElroy said it was a fun season and was special because the kids worked hard, they were driven, they had goals they wanted to accomplished and were confident they could accomplish them.
Burleson had five first-team players this season. Three on offense in Brock Williams, Matt Collier and Edgar Lopez, and three on defense in Jaterrius Pleasant, C.J. Williams and Blake Meyers.
Williams, a senior tight, did a nice job for the Elks according to McElroy.
“He doesn’t have big stats but that is more because of the nature of our offense,” McElroy said. “He had some quality catches and he was good in the red zone. He was a good blocker.”
Williams finished the season with 10 catches for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
Collier, a senior tackle, was the anchor for the Elks’ offensive line, McElroy said.
“Matt supplied senior leadership,” McElroy said. “He’s been there and done it. When we had to have it we would run behind him or set our pass protection to him. Matt did an outstanding job.”
Lopez almost didn’t kick for the Elks this season. The sophomore was considering skipping football to concentrate on soccer but his father and McElroy talked him into playing this season. That was a good decision for the Elks when starting kicker and quarterback Hayden Whitten went down with an injury before the second game of the season.
“Thank goodness he decided to play because when Hayden went down we would have been in a pickle,” McElroy said. “He made some big kicks for us all throughout the year. He is a really good kicker. He has a great leg.”
Lopez’s biggest kick of the season was a 45-yard field goal with 11 seconds to play that gave Burleson a 31-28 victory over Centennial in the Hall of Fame/Boot Game.
Even though Pleasant drew double teams most of the season at nose guard, the senior still managed 72 tackles. He had seven tackles for losses, two sacks, 18 hurries and forced a fumble.
“He’s is two-year starter and a force to be rekonded with,” McElroy said. “He’s going to play college football. He has several offers right now. I don’t know how those kids do it but he loves to play nose guard. I wouldn’t want to because they are getting double teamed every time. He still made plays. He’s just outstanding.”
Williams, a junior, is the prototypcial cornerback according to McElroy. The junior finished the season with 70 tackles, four tackles for losses, he broke up 13 passes, had two interceptions, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
“He can run a hole through the wind and fears no man,” McElroy said. “He is not afraid to make a tackle in run support. He’s really, really special.”
Myers moved to punter when Whitten was injured. The sophomore also played safety and was a backup quarterback for the Elks. McElroy said that Lopez could have handled the punting duties but that really wasn’t his forte.
“Blake punted for the freshman team so we stuck him our there and he did a great job,” McElroy said. “The best thing was we didn’t have to punt very often but when we did, Blake was able to put the ball where we wanted it.”
The Elks had 10 second-team players including, junior quarterback Jacob Amador, senior running back
Devin Stevenson, junior receiver Aden Anderson, senior guard Cameron Lopez, junior defensive end Ben Quirino, junior defensive tackle Jacob Hardie, senior inside linebacker Zachary McDaniel, senior outside linebacker Casey Jackson and junior safeties Sam Martin and Jared Johnson.
Burleson’s honorable mention players were senior outside linebacker Isaac Dagley, junior cornerback
Iver Macaulay, junior center Tyler Massengill, junior receiver Jacob Moss, sophomore running back Caleb Lewis and sophomore linebacker Carson Hallack.