LEANDER — The Brownwood Lions didn’t come all the way to Austin to lose. So far they haven’t, sweeping Friday’s pool play action at the 7-on-7 Division II state tournament.
The Lions, 2010 state champions of the 7-on-7 Division II, are looking for a return to glory this time around.
The Lions had two close games and one rout, dispatching Anna (40-32), Mexia (33-12) and Houston Episcopal (34-26). The Houston game was highly contested as the referees kept calling pass interference on the Lions while ignoring the Houston defensive backs crawling all over the backs of the Brownwood receivers.
After the final game, Lions head coach Chuck Howard was unfazed by the bad calls on the field.
“We’re off to a pretty good start,” Howard said. “I don’t even worry about the calls, those things tend to even themselves out and go both ways.”
Leading the day on touchdown catches for the Lions in the first game were Kaimon Ontiveros with a pair and Bryan Johnson with two. Ceth Hardy also got one.
Lions quarterback Chris Keesee looked sharp all day, zipping passes and rarely getting the four-second calls for not throwing the ball on time.
In the second game against Mexia, Braxton Kilgo got his first touchdown of the day on a 20-yard slant from Keesee. Brownwood led at the half of the Mexia game, 14-6. The Lions weren’t satisfied with scoring on just offense. The Lion defensive backs kept the pressure on Mexia, forcing six four second violations in the second half. The receivers for Mexia just couldn’t get open.
Brownwood suffered one key injury on the day, as defensive back Matt Lewis twisted his knee while defending a pass.
“We’re pretty sure he’ll be okay,” Howard said. “They checked his knees and he just landed wrong.”
Play was stopped for the injury and blood on the field. The Lions were getting physical with the Mexia offense.
Keesee led the Lions to second-half scoring drives with passes to Kilgo and Ontiveros and touchdowns to Kyle Steele and Elijah Salazar. Ontiveros got a pick in the end zone to stop one Mexia drive. The final, Brownwood 33, Mexia 12.
In the third game of the day, the heat bulb seemed to be even hotter than before, as the Lions faced a Houston team that just wouldn’t quit.
The game got off to a slow start as both teams struggled to get drives going in the first half.
Finally the Lions broke the scoreless tie with a 15-yard throw down the middle to Kilgo for a touchdown.
In the next Houston Drive, Ontiveros got a pick in the end zone and took it all the way home for a six.
Brownwood went up 14-0 with a leaping catch in the right corner by Bryan Johnson for the PAT.
Houston came back with a length of the field bomb which burned the Brownwood defensive backs. The partisan Lions fans were very vocal throughout the day. It seemed like the Lions had a home field advantage.
The halftime score was 21-7 with the Ontiveros interception.
In the second half, Lions safety Dalton Simmons got a pick and almost made it back for six.
Houston rallied for another score to make it 21-14.
Keesee fired back with a slant to the end zone corner with Johnson pulling away from the Houston defender in the corner of the end zone as Brownwood stretched its lead to 28-14.
Ontiveros added to the Lions’ tally with another touchdown, but Houston fired back with a score of their own.
Just as Brownwood got the ball back to attempt another score, the horn sounded with the final 34-26 in favor of the Lions.
The Lions get today started with a 9 a.m. match against Lorena.
Bangs, who went 2-1 on the day, is in the championship bracket as well and will face Dallas Episcopal in its 9 a.m. opener. The Dragons defeated Crandall (26-24) and Yoakum (46-38) with a loss coming against College Station (39-20).
Based on the draws, Bangs and Brownwood could meet for the state championship.
“That would be really fun,” said Bangs head coach Chuck Lipsey.