The first season of Brownwood Lions football under head coach Sammy Burnett gets underway at 4:30 p.m. Monday at the high school. Following five-plus months of preparations since being hired Feb. 22, Burnett — a 1988 Brownwood graduate — is eager to lead his alma mater onto the field for the initial preseason practice.
“We’re extremely excited,” said Burnett, who owns a 58-32 record as a head coach with seven postseason trips in a combined eight seasons at Farmersville and Honey Grove. “We spent the last couple of weeks educating coaches on the system and trying to get it all set in place. We’ve done our practice plan and how we’re going to do offense and defense and we’ll go over it again before Monday. We’re just excited about getting the kids out there, seeing what we have and start building more relationships and teaching the work ethic that it takes to be successful. It’s going to be a grind, but it’s going to be enjoyable.”
Along with Burnett, who stated he will call the majority of the plays, the Lions coaching staff includes offensive line coach and run game coordinator Chase Adams, who comes with Burnett from Farmersville and will also call plays at times. The rest of the offensive staff includes returnees Brad Bowden to help coach the offensive line, Bryan Clark as running backs coach, Tyler Horton as quarterbacks coach and Grant Feaster as wide receivers coach.
Assistant head coach David Jones, another Brownwood graduate who most recently coached defense at Plainview, will “run the defense,” according to Burnett, while defensive coordinator and secondary coach Brett Mouser arrives from Brenham, where he helped lead the Cubs and their 3-4 defensive approach to three state championship game appearances. Darren Bailey, with previous stints in Bangs and Early, will coach cornerbacks, while Derrick Stacks rejoins the Brownwood staff as outside linebackers coach. Both Kirk Chastain, along the defensive line, and Blandon Hancock, assisting with outside linebackers, are back from last year’s staff.
Monday’s initial practice for the Lions will be starting during the heat of the day, with a high forecast of 99 degrees. While the temperature will be extremely warm, another run of 108-degree days Brownwood experienced in late July is not expected any time soon.
“It’s going to be hot out there but we’ll embrace that,” Burnett said. “It’s going to be hot for everybody, but we’re real excited about the opportunity we have.”
The timing of the practice should aid the Lions coaching staff with its top priority prior to putting on the pads for the first time Friday — conditioning.
“Conditioning is No. 1,” Burnett said. “There’s a sense of urgency of getting in shape so we can play fast and not have to worry about conditioning later.”
Installing the offensive and defensive playbooks will also be critical during the first four days of workouts.
“We’re trying to get our playbook in as quickly as possible, educate the kids on their positions and the concepts we have on both sides of the ball,”Burnett said. “We’re going to be behind the eight ball compared to some other programs that have had their system in a while, but our kids are smart and I think they’ll pick it up pretty quick.”
Heading into the initial practice, Burnett feels the skill positions are the strength for the Lions while the biggest question mark is the offensive line.
“Our skill areas, we’re going to be really strong in those,” Burnett said. “Our kids are extremely smart, very knowledgeable. They pick up stuff pretty quick. I think they’re excited about the opportunity they have. We have some things in place that are going to help us be successful. We do have some kids that can perform and play.
“Our biggest concern is our offensive line, but I think we’re going to have more than capable kids who can get that done. It’s our job to find the five that work the best together as a unit, the best fit. The lack of experience on the line is what’s going to be our bigger concern, but we’ll address it and find the right guys and we’ll be fine.”