The Cleburne Yellow Jackets and their Search to Rewrite History

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Photo by
Jonathan Rodriguez
September 16, 2016

The Cleburne Yellow Jackets haven’t won a district title since 1992 nor a playoff game since 1998.

When Jeff Merket was hired in 2012 to help turn the Cleburne program around, he came in looking to match similar success that he had at Brownwood as the offensive coordinator. Now in 2016 as Cleburne heads into a bye week, he has the Yellow Jackets sitting at 3-0 which is their best start since 2009.

Cleburne got their season off on the right foot when they defeated Stephenville 66-40 which was their first victory against them since 1988. It was also an important game due to the significance it had in coach Merket’s time at Cleburne.

“Cleburne has been down for a little while, but we expected to be good this year. We thought we would be 3-0 at this point and we are, so to me we are just fulfilling our expectations,” Merket said.

And if the way Cleburne has been playing as of late continues then the expectations and goals laid out for them could take place come season’s end. However, in order to get to their goals, they will have to go through their first challenges when they start district play next week against two tough opponents in Everman and Burleson Centennial, who both made the playoffs last year in the 5A classification.

“Most of these guys have been playing since they were sophomores. I think we had ten of them that started as sophomores so that makes a big difference. We’re not playing 15-year-olds anymore we’re playing 18-year-olds and all that experience they have has really helped us.”

Those sophomores now part of the senior class this year have helped this program take a leap forward. So much so that many are beginning to take notice. Cleburne recently received a vote in the Texas AP High School Football Poll for the first time in 20 years and is the only team from the 9-5A district to appear.

Top 5 Quarterbacks in the State (as of Week Three) earlier this week.

Bradley finds those awards and distinctions to be nice, but does not put much stock into them with his focus being geared towards the goals of the team.

“But I don’t think they’ll mean as much as they should until after the season and after we achieve what we want to achieve as a team. Right now I’m focused on our team goals.”

Bradley echoes the sentiments of Coach Merket when he discusses the goals he has for the team.

“It feels good. I never thought that this would happen. As a kid you play NCAA and you play as those teams and to be able to possibly say that I’m going to play on that team is crazy.”

Bradley who knows the importance of education has already begun to think about possible majors and what to study, all the while being the quarterback for the Cleburne Yellow Jackets.

“Work hard, play hard and have fun.”


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