With consecutive undefeated runs to the state tournament and Round Rock tournament championships to their credit, the short-handed Brownwood Lions will attempt to keep both streaks alive as the 7-on-7 season gets under way Saturday.
Brownwood — the 2005 and 2006 Round Rock state qualifying tournament champion — will again attempt to defend its title though seven members of the team will miss the action due to the Lions’ playoff baseball game.
Still, the Lions have more players returning with 7-on-7 tournament experience than they did a year ago, though the inexperience didn’t hinder Brownwood as it went 14-0 in state qualifying tournaments.
“Each year we get about 18 or 19 guys because we know there are going to be travel plans for these kids in the summer,” said Lions offensive coordinator and 7-on-7 coordinator Mitch Moore. “With the success of baseball, we’re going to be missing about seven guys, but we’ve got plenty of people to fill in.
“Having the baseball team still playing is definitely not a bad thing and we might be without them for a few more weeks. It’ll be a little tough on our guys with only 12 or so people. There’s going to be a lot of running, but we’ll be fine. I’m not worried about their efforts.”
Among the 7-on-7 veterans are junior quarterback Casey Pachall, senior utility player Chris Munson, junior running back/safety Kenny Vaccaro, senior running back Corey Burr and senior fullback/inside linebacker Jordan Longoria.
All five were members of last year’s 7-on-7 squad that started 16-0 before dropping its final game of pool play at state to Southlake Carroll, 47-34. Brownwood then fell to San Antonio Clark, 46-40 in double overtime, in the first game of the championship bracket.
Newcomers who will have a chance to prove themselves immediately include Bubby Harrell, Travis Holleman, Hayden Hewitt, Payton Ragsdale, Dakota Carrasco and Sean Roberson.
“Every year is different,” Moore said. “We’ve got some guys that have been in this situation before and some more that we’re hoping catch on quickly. We’re going to play hard and do our best. The goals stay the same every year.”
Moore stated there are no expectations to win the tournament for the third straight season, though it would be nice to at least make the championship game and secure the program’s ninth straight trip to the state tournament in College Station July 13-14.
“We’d like to qualify right off the bat again, but there’s no pressure,” Moore said. “We do this work to improve for the fall.”
The Lions begin Pool A play at 9 a.m. at Round Rock High School and among their opponents will be Burnet, which knocked off the Lions, 40-22, during the Gordon Wood Classic last year. Brownwood will travel to Burnet on Sept. 14 of the upcoming season.
“It’s always fun to play against someone you’ll face in the upcoming season,” Moore said. “Last year we felt like we didn’t play a great game against them, so we’re excited about getting to compete against them and seeing them again in the fall.”
Round Rock Westwood and Cedar Park round out the pool, and Cedar Park is the only member of the pool not to advance to last year’s state tournament.
Comprising Pool B are Round Rock, Manor, Austin Bowie and Brenham; Pool C consists of Round Rock McNeil, Lake Travis, Austin High and Georgetown; and Pool D is made up of Pflugerville, Hutto, Pflugerville Hendrickson and A&M Consolidated.
The Lions will take the first weekend of June off, then play at Lake Travis (June 9) and at Abilene (June 16) before hosting their own qualifier on June 23.