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The Palmer Bulldog defense stifled visiting Kemp in Friday's 2020 season opener. (Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports)

Palmer defense flexes in season-opening, 14th consecutive win

By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports

The Palmer Bulldogs dominated Kemp on both sides of the football in Friday night’s season-opener.

Kemp mustered just 66 total yards of offense in the Bulldogs’ 35-7 home win, while Palmer quarterback Julian Villasenor paced his offense with four total touchdowns.

“I’m just really, really glad that we are playing football,” Palmer head coach Don Waddle told KBEC Sports. “That’s number one. I’m glad we won and we did a lot of things well. But, the coach in me, we had a few turnovers, and we really have to fix that. We have a good group of kids and I’m confident that we’ll fix it. It was a great first win but, again, we are just really lucky to be out here playing.”

Villasenor completed 7-of-his-15 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns — one each to Gabe Bolden (2-108) and Arturo Gonzales (3-81). He added 12 carries for 25 yards and two more touchdowns.

Bolden said the season-opening victory was an affirmation of the Bulldogs’ work during the offseason and COVID-related shutdown.

“[This win] feels good know that we lost a whole bunch of seniors,” Bolden said. “We had a bunch of kids who were backups or, maybe, started some last year step up.

“[…] I think we are capable of doing anything that we want to do or that we set our mind to. We can go as deep [in the playoffs] as we want. There is nothing that we can’t do.”

Bralen Lopez led all ball carriers with 20 carries for 94 yards.

As a team, the Bulldogs gained 338 total yards and picked up 17 first downs.

Collin Graves and Damian Gonzales led Palmer with 12 total tackles and Trenton Hartley recorded 10.

Waddle credited the Bulldogs’ defensive line and its pressure and presence in the backfield for setting the tone.

“We made plays when we needed to,” Waddle said. “Arturo made a great play on a deep pass and almost everyone had flashes. It’s there; we just have to keep going.”

The victory marked the 14th consecutive win for the Bulldogs in the regular season, dating back to 39-0 victory against Scurry-Rosser on Oct. 26, 2018.


The Bulldogs return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4 on the road against Grand Saline. The Indians were thumped in their season opener by Cooper, 54-0.

Palmer is not slated to return to Bulldog Stadium until Sept. 18 against Groesbeck to wrap-up its non-district slate.

Waddle said he expects the Bulldogs to be prepared enough to win each week and always be the more physical team.

“And to be good teammates,” he added. “We don’t do anything fancy or secret. That is all we talk about each week and they’re bought in.”


All photos by Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports


Fred Phipps/KBEC Sports contributed to this report. 


Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith


About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith is the owner and content director of Ellis County Sports and has over a decade of award-winning sports coverage. He most recently served as the digital sports director for KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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