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No.8 Palmer (11-1) Produces Best-Team Ever

When a team is ready for the season to be over, it’s not a good indicator. When players are incredibly disappointed that they’ve played their last game, like Palmer on Nov. 22, it reveals a very successful campaign. That the Bulldogs were 11-0 before suffering a year-ending loss in the playoffs is a major statement about the best team in school history. These guys never wanted this year to stop. Head Coach Don Waddle, whose 2014 team (8-3) won the school’s firstever district championship, added another this fall with a team that rose to No. 8 in the state Class 3A rankings. The Bulldogs crushed Hamilton, 49- 7, in the Bi-District round, and then endured a heartbreaking 17-14 upset defeat at the hands of Holliday the following week. Palmer then reaped the benefits of its outstanding campaign when a whopping eight players received Superlative recognition by the eight league coaches. Compared to Ennis, who also won their district crown, the Lions had three players earn similar honors. The Black-and-Gold swept the first five of the highest awards, including District MVP - Carson Cisneros, Offensive Player of the Year – Adrian Cisneros, Defensive POY – Marc Zagala, Utility POY – Ben Waddle, and Offensive Lineman of the Year – Henry Martinez. All are seniors. Additionally, Gabe Bolden, a junior, was tabbed as the Offensive Newcomer of the Year, sophomore Collin Graves received Defensive Newcomer and senior Alan Mata was the Kicker of the Year. Waddle and his entire staff of assistants, including Defensive Coordinator David Blakley and OC Matthew Moose, garnered Coaching Staff of the Year. Twice in his six years at the helm the Bulldogs have been top dogs in the district, and have finished below .500 only two times. During the prior six seasons the Hounds enjoyed just one winning year. This year’s senior-laden Barkers, 7-3 as juniors, gave credence to a group whose camaraderie and work-ethic well exceeded their considerable talent. While running the table in District 7-3A, they faced four teams with winning records, routing Buffalo 38-19, Mildred 48-13, Edgewood 41-16, and Rice, 39-0. Buffalo and Edgewood were coming off 12-1 and 9-2 seasons. In the process the Bulldogs averaged 46.6 ppg and allowed just 11.8. Balanced offense; D had 24 takeaways Palmer moved the ball very well through the air, gaining 190.0 passing yards per game and 27 TD’s. They threw only four interceptions. On the ground they rolled for 219.4 ypg, 43 TD’s while losing just four fumbles. That’s 409.4 ypg, 70 TD’s and a scant 8 turnovers. DC Blakley had his unit post three shutouts and held 10-of-12 teams under 20 points. Collectively they swiped 12 interceptions as well as recovering a dozen fumbles. Palmer was +16 in turnovers. In their only setback, 17-14 to Holliday (10-4), they allowed only 235 yards on 43 plays. Meanwhile, Palmer racked up 320 yards, 71 plays and an 18-12 advantage in first downs. The Bulldogs committed zero turnovers and three penalties. They were, however, stopped on downs five times, four of them deep in their opponents territory. District MVP Cisneros does double-duty On a team known for sharing the glory, any one of four or five players could have easily been named the Most Valuable Player. League coaches, however, agreed that senior Carson Cisneros, who excelled as a two-way player, was most deserving. His cousin, three-year starting QB Adrian Cisneros, had a sensational season, and a case could easily be made for Waddle and Zagala. But it was Carson (6’0, 165) who seldom ever left the field. He played full-time at both wide receiver and cornerback. Carson was second in receiving with 31 catches, which were good for 6 TD’s. His average yards gained by grab was 17.4. At cornerback he had height, speed and agility, which enabled him to make 79 tackles, third most on the team, though his 50 solo stops was tops. He had two interceptions, returned punts for a 14.2 average. “We couldn’t have accomplished what we did without him,” said Coach Waddle. “He never left the field except when we punted. Carson made big plays on both sides of the ball and was especially huge at free safety.” The coach mentioned a few others who were worthy of the award, though Cisneros likely deserved the honor. QB


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