FORT WORTH — The Cleburne Yellow Jackets are off to a scorching hot start to the season with a 6-1-0 record and a tournament championship already on their 2021 résumé.
After a 4-0 win in its season opener over Waco Connally on Jan. 5, Cleburne went 5-1-0 in the Castleberry Kickoff Tournament including back-to-back 1-0 wins in the semifinal and final to take first place in the tournament.
“It is a huge confidence booster, for them and for myself as well,” Cleburne Coach Jose Salazar said. “They played really well and we came in as the dominant team in every game. It's great to see them clicking as a team.
“It's a great start. Even with the loss, we learned a lot from the mistakes that cost us the game against Midlothian Heritage, which the boys were able to correct and come out on top [the next time].”
Cleburne opened the Castleberry Kickoff Tournament with a 3-1 win Thursday morning over Anna. Coming off a hat trick in the season-opening win, Cleburne sophomore E.J. Jarmon found the back of the net twice against Anna while freshman Nick Terronez added one goal. Sophomore Alex Lara and junior Hayden Goosen had one assist each.
Then the Jackets blasted Lake Worth in a 5-0 victory Thursday afternoon. Jarmon continued his impressive start to the season with two more goals for a 2-0 lead — with Lara and sophomore Anthony Terronez registering assists. Sophomore Yahir Piña made it 3-0 on an unassisted goal for his first of the season. Then Nick Terronez scored the final two goals — off assists from Anthony Terronez and Lara — to produce the 5-0 final.
On Friday, the Jackets dropped a hard-fought 2-1 decision to Midlothian Heritage. Anthony Terronez had Cleburne's lone goal on a feed from Piña.
Cleburne bounced back strong later Friday with a 4-0 victory over Ferris. Jarmon scored his eighth goal of the season for a 1-0 lead. Nick Terronez also continued his impressive start to the season with a goal off an assist from sophomore Diego Mares for a 2-0 advantage. Senior Jose Sanchez recorded his first goal of the season with Anthony Terronez getting credit for the assist, and then Lara made it 4-0 on a feed from Sanchez.
On Saturday, the Jackets battled Castleberry to a scoreless draw through the first 70 minutes before Anthony Terronez scored on a free kick with 10 minutes left for a hard-fought 1-0 victory, which sent the Jackets to the tournament championship.
In the final, Cleburne beat Diamond Hill-Jarvis in another 1-0 final tally. This time, Cleburne scored in the opening 15 minutes on another goal by Anthony Terronez, and the Jacket defense made the 1-0 lead stand.
“The semi and final they played perfect games,” Salazar said. “They made minimal mistakes and were so dominant over their opponents. They all did exactly what we needed them to do. They are finally understanding the tactics and moving the ball how I want them to. I am proud of how they played. Six games in three days put a huge strain on their bodies. But they toughed it out and left it all on the field.”
Cleburne has out-scored its first seven opponents 19-3, including an 18-1 margin in six wins.
The Jackets are scheduled to visit Burleson Centennial at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.