The Brownwood Lions came up a point shy of qualifying for the 7-on-7 small school state tournament last weekend, and Saturday the Lions will test their mettle against Class 4A and 5A competition at the Lake Travis state qualifier.
Brownwood is looking to advance to the state tournament for the 10th summer in a row, and each of its nine previous advancements occurred at a larger school tournament. The Lions, who will be a member of District 2-3A this fall, played in their first small school qualifier last week and will again do so on June 14 at a tournament hosted by Arlington Bowie.
The Lions will be competing in Pool C at Lake Travis against Round Rock Westwood, Austin Bowie and former district rival Lampasas.
Westwood locked up a state berth two weeks ago with its appearance in the championship game of the Round Rock state qualifier. Therefore, the Lions only need to defeat Austin Bowie and Lampasas to reach the tournament semifinals.
Brownwood reached the semifinals of last week’s Gatesville’s state qualifier, but suffered a 43-42 loss on the final snap of the contest — a successful two-point conversion attempt by Rockdale.
Despite the final outcome, the Lions offense still put forth an impressive performance. Brownwood scored on 24 of its 30 possessions and averaged 43.3 points in its four contests.
Quarterback Casey Pachall connected on 84 percent of his pass attempts (98-of-116) with 24 touchdown tosses and one interception.
Parker Taylor led the Lions with 29 receptions, including five touchdowns, while Travis Holleman grabbed 23 catches and three touchdowns. Shelby Miller added 19 receptions and a team-high seven touchdowns, while Kenny Vaccaro snagged 11 receptions with six touchdowns.
Other receivers getting their feet wet at the varsity 7-on-7 level included Luke Chastain with five catches and two touchdowns, Hayden Hewitt with five receptions and a score, Cade Johnson and Zac Fulton with three receptions each and Tyler Kemp finished with one grab.
The Lions would like to see a more consistent defensive performance Saturday after roller coaster ride they experienced in Gatesville. Brownwood gave up just three touchdowns and forced seven turnovers in wins over Burnet and Prosper, while surrendering an average of 37.5 points per game to Waco Reicher and Rockdale.
Brownwood gave up touchdowns on just 14 of its opponents’ 31 possessions (45 percent) and intercepted 10 passes. But the deep ball proved to be the opponents’ best weapon as several long strikes either resulted in touchdowns, or set up short scoring tosses.
If the Lions are able to get past Austin Bowie and Lampasas, they would face either Pflugerville Connally, Cedar Park Vista Ridge, Round Rock or Dripping Springs out of Pool D in the semifinals.
The rest of the tournament field features Lake Travis, Hays Consolidated, Belton and Round Rock Stony Point in Pool A, along with Georgetown, Copperas Cove, Austin Westlake and Brady in Pool B.
The two teams to reach the championship game will move on to the large school 7-on-7 state tournament July 11-12 in College Station.