In the game of football, first impressions usually don’t count for much — especially when it comes to first scrimmages. But the performance the Brownwood Lions put forth Saturday against the Denton Guyer Wildcats definitely turned heads, and provided a glimpse of why expectations are so high for the 2007 season.
Brownwood scored a total of 12 touchdowns to Denton Guyer’s four in length of the field, red zone and goal line scrimmage action during Saturday’s dual workout between the two varsity squads at Gordon Wood Stadium. The Lions defense also forced six fumbles, while the offense lost the ball only once.
“Our goal is for our offense to be feeding the defense, and the defense to be feeding the offense,” said Brownwood Lions head coach Steve Freeman. “If we do that, all the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. We tasted that some in the latter part of ’06 and we’ve got great potential for that mix to be pretty good this year.”
The Lions ran 26 plays during the length of the field scrimmage, where drives started on the 35, and scored four times — all in the first 11 snaps. Brownwood accumulated at least 10 yards on 16 plays, and seven plays covered 20 yards or more.
“In our team segment, especially in the first segment, we were real effective,” Freeman said. “For our first time out I’d give us a plus. We had a real broad mix for the first time out. We had good stuff on the ground and some good stuff in the air.”
All eyes were on Brownwood’s gigantic offensive line, one of the most heralded in the program’s storied history, in their first outing against live competition. The unit — which includes projected starters Luke Butler (5-10, 190 lbs.), Jon Fitzgerald (6-5, 310 lbs.), Stavion Lowe (6-4, 295 lbs.), John Ward (6-3, 310 lbs.) and Dusty Crelia (6-0, 250 lbs.) — received positive reviews from Freeman.
“I think they’re going to grade out pretty decent. I was pretty pleased,” Freeman said. “Guyer’s got some kids that are strong and they have good team speed. The biggest deal with the offensive line is that we’ve got some game tape on them now. We’re going to see some good stuff and we’re going to see botches. It’s good to get this under our belt and take the film and do some more teaching. We’ve taken a good positive step.”
In length-of-the-field action, quarterback Casey Pachall completed 7-of-8 passes for 220 yards with three touchdowns. He also rushed for 92 yards on four carries with another score.
Kenny Vaccaro caught three passes for 114 yards, Jacob Allen grabbed two receptions for 51 yards, Corey Burr hauled in a 35-yard reception and Garrett Goodwin caught a 20-yard pass.
The passing game picked up considerably from the hull that took place early in the workout, where Brownwood receivers had problems keeping their hands on the ball.
“If there was a down side today, in the pass hull we put the ball on the ground way too much,” Freeman said. “Any is too much for us because we have to make first downs and plays in our league. But the plus side is the receivers were in the right place and the ball was on the money for the most part.”
Burr led the Lions’ ground game with a team-high seven rushes that totaled 42 yards, while Chris Munson ran three times for 36 yards, Jordan Longoria picked up 14 yards on two carries and Vaccaro added an 11-yard sprint.
After the lone incompletion on the first play of the team offense set, Pachall swiped a fumbled handoff to Munson out of midair and raced around the left end 65 yards for a touchdown.
Brownwood’s next drive featured a 35-yard screen pass from Pachall to Burr, a 15-yard sprint by Burr and Munson then took an option pitch 15 yards to the end zone.
Pachall rushed for 17 yards on the first play of the next drive, then hit Vaccaro on a fly pattern for a 48-yard touchdown.
The Lions needed just four plays to score again as Munson rushed for 11 yards, Longoria rumbled for 14 yards and Burr picked up five yards before Allen pulled in a 35-yard scoring toss from Pachall.
Brownwood finished the offensive portion of the workout with red zone action, where it scored five touchdowns in 12 plays. Pachall completed all seven of his pass attempts and he threw touchdowns to four different receivers.
Mitchell Tharp caught a 10-yard scoring toss, Parker Taylor had scoring receptions of 14 and 13 yards, Bubby Harrell grabbed a 6-yard touchdown catch and Munson scored on an 11-yard toss.
In five minutes of goal line work — which started at the Guyer 3 — the Lions scored three touchdowns.
After a four-hour break in which the Brownwood and Guyer JV and freshman squads scrimmaged each other, the Lions defense took its turn manhandling the Wildcats.
In 26 plays of length of the field action, the Lions surrendered one touchdown on the final snap, caused two fumbles and gave up seven first downs and 170 yards of offense — including 58 on one play.
In red zone action, Guyer again managed just one touchdown and fumbled twice in 12 plays from inside the Brownwood 25.
Guyer scored half its touchdowns during the goal line segment, but the Lions also collected a sack, caused a fumble and recorded two tackles for loss in seven plays.
“Defensively, it was a little bit of a replica of the offensive segments,” Freeman said. “We came out flying around and that’s really where our effectiveness is going to be. Today was living proof that size doesn’t matter to us because those boys were huge.”
The Lions will resume practice Monday, then head to Wichita Falls for a 7 p.m. scrimmage on Friday. Brownwood will open the season at home on Aug. 31 against Abilene Wylie.
“We’re extremely pleased with today, but we’ve got to continue working hard,” Freeman said.