Mustangs' second straight playoff trip ends in first round

MAY — For the second year in a row, the Brookesmith Mustangs qualified for the playoffs as the runner-up out of District 12-A Division II. And, for the second straight year, the District 11 champion and state-ranked Strawn Greyhounds awaited in the opening round.

As was the case a year ago, No. 5 Strawn again brought Brookesmith’s season to end Thursday night, rolling to a 60-0 bi-district playoff victory over the Mustangs. In 2016, the Greyhounds recorded a 60-14 win in the opening round.

“I think we could have played better, but I’m proud of my boys,” said Brookesmith first-year head coach Scott Edmondson, who guided the Mustangs to second straight 5-6 campaign. “Strawn is a tough team that very well could win it all. It’s a heck of a draw for the first round.”

Unbeaten Strawn (11-0) limited Brookesmith to 0 total yards on 28 snaps — nine of which resulted in negative yardage — with no first downs. The Mustangs finished with negative-6 yards rushing on 18 carries and completed 3 of 10 passes for 6 yards with a pair of interceptions.

Mason Brummett was 3 of 9 through the air with a 6-yard toss to Ryder Nelson, while Jonathan Willoughby caught two passes that netted 0 yards. On the ground, Brummett finished with 2 yards on eight carries while Willoughby registered negative-8 yards on 10 totes.

For Strawn, six different players scored on offense as the Greyhounds generated 251 total yards — all on the ground. The Greyhounds also scored points on defense as Junior Cervantes returned an interception 50 yards for the second touchdown. Cervantes also booted a 27-yard field goal for the final points of the game with 1:49 left in the second period.

Offensive touchdowns for Strawn came from Tanner Hodgkins on a 17-yard carry at 7:47 of the first quarter; Julian Fraga on a 36-yard run at 4:45 of the first; Carlos Villanueva on a 16-yard scamper at 4:01 of the first; and Ivan Ruiz from 20 yards away to round out the first-period scoring.

Leading 40-0 after the initial stanza, Strawn added second-period touchdowns on a 28-yard sprint by Marco Lopez at the 8:52 mark, and a 65-yard jaunt by Kody Gault with 6:15 remaining.

After an 0-3 start to the season — all shutout losses — the Mustangs rebounded to win five of their last seven regular season games to return to the playoffs, holding off Mullin for a 48-46 victory and the runner-up spot in the district. Prior to the last two seasons, Brookesmith had not reached the playoffs since 2006.

“Nobody expected us to do this again and it was a challenge,” Edmondson said. “Starting out 0-3 it was looking like a self-fulfilling prophecy the first three weeks, but we got it together, got in the right positions, battled through and won five games. I’m really proud of that and of them being here. It’s huge for these boys. We have a lot of young players, we’re only losing two seniors, so I think we can build on this and get better.”

Brookesmith will find out its new district when the UIL announces its biennial realignment in February.

Meanwhile, Strawn will face either No. 7 Crowell (6-3), the District 11 champion, or District 10 runner-up Lueders-Avoca (5-4) in the second round of the playoffs next weekend.