Elks open season at home
An opponent Burleson has never faced will provide an opportunity Friday that has not been presented in more than a decade.
If the Elks can defeat Saginaw in their football season opener, it will mark the first time since 2002 that Burleson has won a season opener in three straight seasons. The teams meet at 7:30 p.m. at Burleson ISD Stadium.
“We want to start 1-0 and win our home opener,” Elks Coach Gary McElroy said. “If we can do that, we will accomplish the first two goals we’ve set for the season.”
It won’t be an easy task, McElroy said. After watching his team scrimmage Azle last Friday, McElroy took the opportunity to watch his season-opening opponent.
“They have good team speed,” he said. “We’re going to have to play our assignments and keep everything in front of us defensively. We’ll have to be fast and physical.”
The challenge will be to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, he said.
“We need to win this one in the trenches,” McElroy said. “Offensively, we need to be able to run the football.”
Saginaw went 5-5 last season and will be out to win consecutive season openers.
Burleson is expected to play both Tristan DeLeon and Hayden Whitten at quarterback. Should Whitten get the start, it will be his 25th consecutive start. His previous 24 starts have been at place-kicker.
Both played quarterback in the scrimmage at Azle, leading what McElroy described as a “vanilla offense,” because he chose not to allow either quarterback much opportunity to run.
“Whitten probably ended with a few more snaps because he led some long drives,” McElroy said. “I thought they both made some good throws.”
He was pleased with the play of Devin Stevenson at halfback, who is the team’s primary running back.
“I thought he ran well,” McElroy said.
Jaylen Johnson also showed he’s ready to step into a greater role in the offense.
“We got the ball in his hands probably eight or nine times,” McElroy said. “He can catch the ball in traffic. He’s got good speed and athletic ability.”
Justin McMaster also grabbed McElroy’s attention in the passing game. He scored a touchdown when he broke free and sprinted past the defense.
This could be McElroy’s best defensive team of his five-year tenure. Thus far, he’s pleased.
“The first-team defense did not give up a score,” he said. “They played fast, physical and good assignment football. I would like to see better tackling.
“Each year, we ask them to be a better defensive team than the year before.”
Burleson, which went 8-4 last season and advanced to the area round of the playoffs for consecutive seasons, can extend its home winning streak to four games with a victory. Burleson went 4-1 at BISD Stadium last season, with the lone loss to White Settlement Brewer. The Elks are 12-4 at BISD Stadium in the past three seasons.