Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Sports

June 28, 2014

Jackets’ 2014 schedule features familiar foes

CLEBURNE — The 2014 season for the Cleburne Yellow Jackets will feature several familiar foes. Of the 10 opponents on Cleburne’s football schedule, the Jackets have faced seven of those teams at least once during the past two seasons.

Of those seven teams, the Jackets have faced off against six opponents — Azle, Burleson, Burleson Centennial, Crowley, Everman and Joshua — once a year during the past two seasons.

Over the past two years, Cleburne squared off against Azle in one of its three non-district games each season. And following the University Interscholastic League’s biennial district realignment, the majority of District 8-4A — now 8-5A — remained the same with only two changes. With such little change in their district, Burleson, Burleson Centennial, Crowley, Everman and Joshua remained on the Jackets’ schedule for the upcoming season.

The other team on the Jackets’ schedule which Cleburne has faced once over the past two seasons is new district foe Aledo. The Jackets and Bearcats met in the bidistrict round of Class 4A playoffs in 2012, with Aledo recording a 45-7 win.

The three “new” opponents for the Jackets in 2014 will be Mansfield Lake Ridge and Boswell in non-district and Granbury as the other new team in District 8-5A. While Cleburne hasn’t faced Granbury in the past two seasons, the Jackets and Pirates are familiar programs as the two schools have been in the same district from time to time over the past couple of decades.

Aledo and Granbury replaced Waco High and Waco University in District 8-5A following district realignment.

The Jackets have a 7-5 record against the six teams they have faced twice over the past two seasons. During those matchups, Cleburne is 2-0 against Burleson Centennial and Joshua, 1-1 against Azle, Burleson and Everman, and 0-2 against Crowley.

After scrimmages against Waco Connally on Aug. 15 at home and at Argyle on Aug. 22, the Jackets open the season against Mansfield Lake Ridge on Aug. 29 at Yellow Jacket Stadium. Cleburne’s first road game of the year is the following week on Sept. 5 at Boswell. Cleburne closes non-district play with a home game against Azle on Sept. 12. Prior to opening District 8-5A play, the Jackets will have a bye week on Sept. 19.

Cleburne then opens league play at Crowley on Sept. 26. The Jackets return home for their homecoming game against rival Burleson on Oct. 3. The Jackets then hit the road two weeks in a row — at Granbury on Oct. 10 and at Everman on Oct. 17.

Cleburne closes out district play and the regular season with two of its final three games at Yellow Jacket Stadium. The Jackets will host Joshua on Oct. 24 then head north on Highway 174 to face the Burleson Centennial Spartans on Oct. 31. Cleburne returns home and wraps up the season against defending state champion, Aledo, on Nov. 7.

Aside from the Boswell game, which is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, every game will be scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Jackets went 6-4 in 2013, the program’s second season with Coach Jeff Merket at the helm, missing out on the playoffs due to a tiebreaker. In 2012, Cleburne went 7-4 in Merket’s first season and broke a 10-year playoff drought in the process by finishing in second place in the district.

Entering the 2014 season, expectations are high in Cleburne as the Jackets return several key pieces on offense in junior quarterback Brian Baca, senior receiver Reggie Robinson II, sophomore receiver Spencer Suitt and senior offensive lineman Dalton Torres. The defense, which was one of the best in the region last year, lost several key playmakers, but return senior defensive tackle Tevin Boone, junior defensive end Jonathan Rice and defensive back Robinson, among others.

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine predicts Cleburne to finish in fifth place, missing out on the playoffs behind Aledo, Everman, Crowley and Burleson, respectively.

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