EXTENDED TEAM FEATURE FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL TEXAS FNF CUSTOM COVER PROJECT SCHOOL
Despite the 3-7 record in 2015, Cleburne was in the playoff race until the final week of the season.
The ‘Jackets close losses to
Crowley and Burleson took the
shine off an upset win over Everman
in district play and kept Coach
Merket’s squad on the outside
looking in of the playoff race.
However, hopes are high that
CHS can right the wrongs of 2015
and get back to the playoffs. Cleburne returns an impressive 18 total
starters including 10 on offense,
including five of the 18 starters are
returning three year starters, so
experience is a big strength for the
Yellow Jackets heading into 2016.
It starts with QB Tre’Von Bradley
who played the position for the first
time in 2015 and thrived accounting
for 2,763 yards and 33 touchdowns.
He’ll again be the focal point of the
“Tre’von had an outstanding 2015
considering he never played the
position of quarterback before. His
big time speed and ability to make
guys miss in short spaces really sets
him apart,” said Coach Merket.
But don’t make the mistake and
think that the Cleburne offensive
unit is simply a one man show, as
Bradley has plenty of playmakers to
utilize when teams focus too much
on stopping him.
The biggest asset the CHS
signal caller has at his disposal is
a strong receiving corps anchored
by Jordan Gann who in just six
games had 665 receiving yards and
five touchdowns. “Gann is a great
route runner, sure handed and has
breakaway speed, we want to get
him the ball in space and we think
big plays can happen,” said Merket.
Isaiah Romero accounted for a
dozen touchdowns and nearly 1,200
yards of total offense and that will
force defensive coordinators to play
the ‘Jackets honest across the board.
“Isaiah is a powerful runner, strong
and has great vision, he’s low to the
ground and quick feet and is really
tough tackle, he’s a 500 pound squat
guy, He’s our bull,” said Merket.
Four starters are back on the
offensive line, a group that Merket
says is “strong and aggressive.”
Chris Robles is a three year starter
and will be the leader of the group,
“Robles is a smart and coachable
kid, he can make adjustments
on the fly for our line and is their
quarterback,” said Merket who
mentions his offensive line is a tight
knit group and they are the key to
Eight starters return on the
defensive unit including the entire
defensive backfield, which Merket
expects to be much improved.
”Our secondary is loaded with
experience, a really talented group
that has gotten better each year,”
said the Cleburne HC.
Mac Ledwig and Brandt Martindale
lead a solid group of linebackers, the
duo accounted for 205 tackles a year
ago. “Mark is undersized, but he’s got
a nose for the ball, he is just a ball
hawk, Martindale is a versatile guy,
we can move him around to different
spots and take advantage of his skill
set depending on the situation,” said
If Cleburne can replace a couple
of defensive lineman lost to graduation, this could be a playoff team
in 2016. “We’ve got some young
guys we think can help us up front,
we need to develop depth, you can
never have too many good defensive
lineman, we want to be able to
rotate guys in and out to keep them
fresh” said Merket.
If the game is close and comes
down to a kick, Cleburne has a good
weapon in Livan Valdez. “Livan was
a first year varsity player last year,
but he did a great job, he’s a reliable
weapon and very accurate from 40
yards in and more importantly he’s
outstanding on kickoffs and placing
the kick which is huge for field position,” replied Merket. “We’ve been
close the past three years missing
out on the playoffs, we feel like
we can win the first district title at
Cleburne since 1992. We think we
have the personnel to get it done,”
Cleburne plays a tough non-district schedule with Stephenville,
Wichita Falls and North Crowley.
One advantage Cleburne does
possess is one of the top home
field advantages in the DFW area,
Yellow Jacket Stadium also known
as “The Rock” is considered one of
the toughest places in the area for a
visiting team to leave with a win.
Cleburne Yellow Jackets
AUG. 26: VS. STEPHENVILLE
SEP. 1: AT WICHITA FALLS
SEP. 9: AT NORTH CROWLEY
SEP. 23: VS. EVERMAN
SEP. 30: AT BURLESON CENTENNIAL
OCT. 7: VS. CROWLEY
OCT. 14: VS. ARLINGTON SEGUIN
OCT. 21: AT BURLESON
OCT. 28: VS. GRANBURY
NOV. 4: AT JOSHUA
KEY PLAYERS: Tre’Von Bradley (Sr., QB); Isaiah
Romero (Sr., RB); Justin Leisering (Sr., DL); Jordan Gann
(Sr., WR); Brant Martindale (Sr., DL); Mac Ledwig (Sr.,
LB); Chris Robles (Sr., OL); Braden Walthall (Sr., WR);
Livan Valdez (Sr., K); Caleb Deen (Sr., OL).
9 OFFENSE, 8 DEFENSE
JOSHUA REED, ROSS TAYLOR, WAYLAND
WHITE, CORY WARNER, MARK
WHITFILL, MARLON WINN, RYAN STEPP,
1 DesmondSanders DB Sr.
2 Ryan Afflerbach DB Sr.
3 Isaac Jarmon LB Sr.
4 Isaiah Romero RB Sr.
5 AustinRobinson WR Jr.
6 Jamari Bradley WR So.
7 DylanFredericks LB Sr.
8 Aldo Carrizales DB Sr.
9 Jacobe Peet RB So.
10 Mac Led wig LB Sr.
11 Tre’von Bradley WR Sr.
12 Livan Valdez K Sr.
13 Isaias Jones WR Sr.
14 Fred Eichholtz IV WR Jr.
15 Bret Hodges RB So.
16 Braden Walthall WR Sr.
17 QuentinMcFerren WR Sr.
18 Cooper Walthall RB Fr.
19 Carson Gann QB So.
20 Ethan Whitehead LB Jr.
21 Damion Campbell-Silva DB Jr.
22 Sean Hernandez DB Sr.
23 TreytonPenninger DB Sr.
24 TrystonPonder LB Jr.
25 Andrew Talton III DB Sr.
26 Jordan Gann WR Sr.
28 Michael Mitchell DB Sr.
34 Adam Howell RB Sr.
38 Nathan Tivnan WR Sr.
40 ArnufoMuniz LB Jr.
45 BraxtonWeger DL Sr.
46 JustinNazworth LB Sr.
47 BrantMartindale DL Sr.
50 ColtonSmith DL So.
51 RionHeard OL Jr.
52 JustinLeisering LB Sr.
54 BrandonGuerrero LB Jr.
55 NoahLeverett LB So.
56 DemarqusMcGilveary LB Jr.
57 ColtonFugitt DL Jr.
58 CalebDeen TE Sr.
60 DanielMinchey OL Sr.
61 MathuBlanton DL So.
64 LukeGalan OL So.
65 AaronRamirez OL Jr.
66 RichardCuellar DL Jr.
70 KennethLay OL Jr.
71 TyreseColeman OL Jr.
72 AlexMaldonado DL Jr.
74 MarkGrotberg OL Sr.
75 ChrisRobles OL Sr.
76 TylerEdsel OL Sr.
77 BlakeLeonard OL So.
78 IsaacRobles OL So.
79 LukeNewby OL Jr.
80 SamuelBelmares WR Sr.
82 ShaneEiler WR So.