Ellis County football previews: Bulldogs ready to maul their fall competitors

After pair of outstanding regular seasons, Palmer looking to keep momentum

Don Hullett
Daily Light correspondent
Palmer's Bralen Lopez runs for yardage against Dallas Gateway Charter last November. The 1,000-yard rushing Lopez returns for his junior season, but will have a lot of new starters around him.

PALMER — The Palmer Bulldogs will hit the road to open up the 2021 football season this Friday night in Kemp at 7:30 p.m. Palmer will be coming off of a season last year where they made the playoffs, but were edged out by Leonard in the first round by a score of 26-20.

Head coach Don Waddle will be entering his eighth season as the Bulldogs leader and he will bring an overall record of 44 wins and 31 defeats during his initial seven years at the helm.

Coach Waddle spoke recently about this upcoming season last week and he had these observations. When asked how many players he had returning from last year’s squad, Waddle said, “We will have 14 returning lettermen, with 2 starters from the offensive side of the ball and 4 from the defense.” Waddle then added, “The biggest weakness for this year’s team will be having so many new players, and the main focus will be on getting the inexperienced players the much needed game reps they will need to make the playoffs.”

Waddle then commented on the strength of the District 2-3A and he said, “Our competitors are all pretty average, with no one team having a distinct advantage, at least at the early part of the season.” When asked what type of offense and defense he will have this year, he replies, “We will be running a power spread offensive set and a 4-2-5 defense.”

He continues, “Overall he expects the offense to be solid, especially with some good receivers, a stable quarterback, and an excellent running back – but the negative aspect is that the offensive line needs experience.” Waddle’s general grade on his defense would be “good” with high marks for the linebackers and the secondary.

The coach expects good years from junior Bralen Lopez at running back and senior Jacob Berumen at running back and slot receiver. They are the lone returning players on offense from the previous season. Last year Lopez played in all of Palmer’s games and carried the ball 148 times for a total of 1,081 yards and caught 25 passes for 428 yards. He also scored 13 touchdowns on the ground and 4 through the air. Berumen carried the ball 43 times for 359 yards with 4 touchdowns, and caught 14 passes for 251 yards – with another 4 touchdowns.

Palmer will have 4 returning defensive starters from last years group, three seniors and a junior. The seniors are Trenton Hartley (defensive line or linebacker), Collin Graves (linebacker) and Berumen (defensive back). The single underclassman returning will be Lopez ( defensive back), as noted as a offensive impact player as well.

Waddle picked as his top newcomers on offense Cutter Burrow at running back, Jett Maxwell at offensive lineman, receivers Drew Powell and Elijah Garcia, and kicker Adam Leach. On defense, hopefuls are linebacker Cayden Langthorn, defensive lineman Julian Ramirez and defensive back Braden Martinez.

District 7-3A (II): Palmer Bulldogs

Head coach: Don Waddle (8th year at school and overall, 44-31)

Enrollment: 326

2020 Record: 9-2, 5-1

Returning lettermen: 14

Returning starters: 2 offense, 4 defense