Another year has come and gone — almost. With only six days remaining in 2013, there are plenty of moments to reflect on that will linger in local sports fans’ minds for years to come.
The following, in no particular order, are 10 Brown County sports stories that made an impact either on the local, state or national level — or all of the above.
Kenny Vaccaro drafted in first round by the New Orleans Saints
Former Brownwood Lion, Early Longhorn and Texas Longhorn Kenny Vaccaro was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the National Football League draft on April 25 in New York City.
Vaccaro made an immediate impact for the Saints, tipping a fourth-and-goal pass in the final seconds that resulted in an interception and a 23-17 New Orleans victory over the defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons in the season opener.
Through the first 14 games of his rookie campaign, Vaccaro had recorded 77 tackles with one sack, one forced fumble and one interception.
New Orleans and the Carolina Panthers are fighting for the NFC South title as well as a first-round playoff bye.
During his career at Texas, Vaccaro started in 32 games and recorded 231 tackles, including 158 solos and 14 for loss, with five interceptions, two sacks, 24 passes broken up and four forced fumbles. He also was voted an All-American by Pro Football Weekly following his season year.
Shelby Miller finishes third in
NL Rookie of the Year voting
Former Brownwood Lion Shelby Miller in his rookie campaign at St. Louis helped the Cardinals win the National League Central Division title as the Redbirds went on to appear in the World Series, eventually falling to the Boston Red Sox.
In 31 starts as a rookie, Miller posted a 15-9 record with a 3.06 ERA, 169 strikeouts and 57 walks in 173.1 innings.
The former Lion received one second-place vote and nine third-place votes by the Baseball Writers Association of America, giving him 12 points — two more than fourth-place Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu (10 points).
Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez took home the honor with 26 of 30 first-place votes and 142 points. Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig came in second with four first-place votes and 25 second-place votes, for 95 points.
Despite a stellar season Miller only pitched one inning in one postseason game.
Following the conclusion of the postseason, Cards GM John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he saw Miller “close to the 200-inning mark” next season.
Shelby Miller pitches near perfect game against Colorado Rockies
Brownwood graduate Shelby Miller appears twice, specially for an individual feat that rarely occurs in Major League Baseball.
Miller retired 27 consecutive batters against the Colorado Rockies on May 10, including a Cardinal rookie record 13 on strikeouts, but unfortunately surrendered a leadoff single to Eric Young Jr.
“It’s definitely the best game I’ve thrown in my life,” Miller said after the game. “How it finished was unbelievable. It was a great experience. Yadi (catcher Yadier Molina) was calling a great game and they were making great plays for me. It was a start I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
Miller threw 113 pitches and at the time lowered his ERA to 1.39, which was the lowest for a Cardinals pitcher in his first eight starts since Howie Pollet had a 2.09 ERA in his first eight in 1941.
Casey Pachall returns to TCU football program for senior season
Former Brownwood Lion quarterback Casey Pachall returned to TCU in January after leaving the university to attend rehab following an October 2012 arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Through TCU’s first four games of the 2012 season, Pachall ranked fifth nationally in pass efficiency as he completed 64 of 97 passes for 948 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception.
In the 2013 campaign, Pachall suffered a fracture in his non-throwing arm, which forced him to miss significant time. Though the Frogs did not qualify for a bowl, finishing with a 4-8 record, Pachall passed for 1,468 yards and six touchdowns in limited action.
For his career, Pachall completed 431 of 685 passes (63 percent) for 5,415 yards with 42 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Pachall has also been invited to play in the inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl on Jan. 11. His NFL future will be determined May 8-10 when the NFL Draft takes place in New York City.
May Tigers reach Six-Man
Division I state championship game
Coming off a 6-4 campaign in which they did not reach the playoffs, the May Tigers surprised the six-man world in 2013 with an undefeated run to the Six-Man Division I state championship game — the first held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Despite falling in the final to Crowell, 78-52, the success of the season was not dampened. Along with appearing in their first state championship since 1977, the Tigers also established a new school record for victories in a single season with 14.
The Tigers reached the state final behind a rushing attack that averaged almost 350 yards per game, and a bend but don’t break defense that frustrated many of its opponents.
The playoff run was the sixth in 10 seasons for May head coach Craig Steele, whose previous teams were often first-round foes for Richland Springs — which saw its string of three straight Six-Man Division II state titles end in 2013.
Bangs Dragons qualify for
UIL Class 2A state baseball tournament
After being denied in four previous attempts, the Bangs Dragons finally earned their first trip to the UIL Class 2A state baseball tournament in June.
The Dragons defeated District 6-2A rival Wall, 14-4 and 10-1, in the regional championship round to punch their ticket for the state semifinals at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
Bangs head coach Jim Bob Williams said, “This is great for our kids and something we’ve been building on the last couple of years. We’ve had several years in a row where we’ve had a lot of success and these kids have built on what the other kids started and created. Those other kids are a big part of why we’re here.”
The Dragons finished the season with a 27-9 record as they were upended by No. 1 Hughes Springs, 5-1, one game shy of playing for a state championship.
Brown County sends 17 athletes to
UIL track and field state meet
Brownwood, Bangs, Blanket and Zephyr provided the largest contingent of Brown County athletes at the UIL state track and field meet in more than a decade.
Blanket’s Rowdy Johnson captured the gold medal in the Class A Division II boys 200 meters, while the Tigers’ 4x200 relay team of Johnson, Tyler Martinez, Kaeden Chasteen and Rafael Marquez earned a silver medal.
Brownwood’s Victoria Henry claimed a silver medal in the shot put, while Lexie Lewis brought home a bronze in the 200 and finished fourth in the 100. Dylan Person, making his second straight state appearance, was seventh in the 1600 meters.
Zephyr’s Haven Rogers brought home a bronze medal in the Class A Division II girls 1600 meters. Blanket’s Sierra Tippie placed fourth in the Class A Division II girls long jump, while the Bulldogs’ 4x400 relay team of Dillon Williams, Jayden Choat, Dakota Rogers and Jayden Ezra just missed out on a medal as well.
Bangs’ girls mile relay team of Destany Finley, Kylie Allen, Charley Lipsey and Liz Pettit came in sixth.
Bangs Dragons football again advances three rounds deep in playoffs
For the second consecutive season, the Bangs Dragons football team advanced to the third round of the playoffs.
The Dragons, who finished second in District 3-2A Division I to Wall, defeated Comanche (31-26) and previously undefeated Denver City (27-25) before being eliminated for the second straight year by Eastland (49-23) in the regional semifinals.
Due to icy conditions in November and December, Bangs also played postseason games on a Tuesday night as well as the following Monday night — a first for a high school team in the state of Texas.
Three Dragons landed on the Associated Press all-state team as Josh Truelove was selected as a first-team defensive back, William Roberts was a second-team offensive lineman and Justin Hoskinson was an honorable mention offensive lineman.
Bangs posted a 9-4 overall record.
Chuck Howard takes over
Brownwood Lions football program
On April 25, Chuck Howard was named the new head football coach and athletic director at Brownwood High School after Bob Shipley stepped down to take a coaching position at the University of Texas.
Howard’s 25th season of coaching overall marked his first as a head coach and he guided the Lions to a 4-7 record and a berth in the Division I-3A playoffs, where Brownwood fell to Stephenville in the opening round.
The Lions finished fourth in the District 8-3A standings and earned 25 all-district honors, but no Brownwood players were voted to the Associated Press all-state team, which was released earlier this month.
Kent Hawthorne name head
football coach, athletic director at Early
On March 8, Kent Hawthorne became the third Early Longhorns head football coach and athletic director since 2008.
In his first season at Early, Hawthorne guided the Longhorns to a 4-6 record, but Early missed the playoffs in District 3-2A Division I after dropping its final three district contests.
The Longhorns did earn one all-state honor, however, as Landon Beck was selected as a second-team defensive end by the Associated Press.