COLLEGE STATION — The Brownwood Lions reached the round of 16 in the 7-on-7 Division II State Tournament championship bracket Friday morning, rallying past Rockdale for a 34-26 victory before falling to Cuero, 31-12.
In the opener, the Lions erased a 20-13 halftime by allowing just one touchdown while compiling three.
“We played really well the second half on both sides of the ball,” said Lions head coach Kyle Maxfield, who observed the action. “We were able to come from behind just like we did in pool play. We kept fighting, made some plays and came out with the win.”
In the second outing against Cuero, the Lions found themselves in an 18-12 hole at halftime and were unable to produce any points over the final 20 minutes.
“I didn't see all the teams play down at state, but I think they were one of the favorites to win the whole thing,” Maxfield said. “We had our chances. When you have a chance to make a pick against them, you have to make the most of every opportunity. The second half, they got hot, got on a roll and we just couldn't slow them down.”
Brownwood's District 3-4A Division I rivals Abilene Wylie advanced to the championship game while Stephenville reached the consolation final before falling to Midlothian Heritage, 33-14. Graham, who the Lions face for homecoming the second game of the season, defeated Wylie, 27-20, to earn the Division II state championship.
Over five state qualifying tournaments, along with the state tournament, the Lions posted a 15-7 record. Brownwood — making its 18th consecutive state appearance — improved on its finish at College Station a year ago, where the Lions were eliminated in the first round of the consolation bracket, winning just one of four games overall.
“It's been great to see them grow as players and compete,” Maxfield said. “For us to set the bar higher than last year, even at the 7-on-7 state tournament to make it to the Sweet 16, that's a pretty good weekend for us.”
Maxfield added he was pleased with the development he's seen on both sides of the ball over the last two months.
“As a whole, every game it seemed like different guys would step up and that's the way 7-on-7 can be,” Maxfield said. “You never know when the ball's going to come to your way on offense or defense. Some game it does more than others. It was just great to see the kids compete. They just don't have any quit in them.”
Unlike in years past, an entire month remains before the start of preseason practice. While the Lions will receive a break next week, summer work during the rest of the month is vital with the first practice slated for Aug. 7.
“We talked about that after the last game as a team, getting their legs back under them and enjoying time off during the Fourth of July week,” Maxfield said. “The weight room will still be open next week for the guys who are going to be around, but the last three weeks of July will be very critical for us to get a good start to practice in August.”