Following a week of pounding on each other in full pads, the Brownwood Lions will finally get to take out their aggression on the District 5-4A Denton Guyer Wildcats.
In their first work against someone other than themselves, the Lions will host Guyer — coached by former Brownwood offensive coordinator John Walsh — in a dual workout starting at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Gordon Wood Stadium.
Expectations are sky-high for the 2007 Lions — who were ranked No. 7 in Class 4A by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine — as seven offensive and seven defensive starters return from last year’s 4A Division II state quarterfinals squad. But the Lions have put last year’s postseason accomplishments behind them as they are focusing on a new beginning.
“We’ve never rode the coattails of anything that’s happened in the past, and we surely can’t this year, even if we are talking about a lot of the same people,” said Brownwood head coach Steve Freeman. “Where we are right now is yet to be seen.”
The varsity workouts will be split into two sessions as the Lions offense will work from 11:30 a.m. to 1:10 p.m., while the defense will come back and take the field from 5:30 p.m. to 7:10 p.m.
The large gap of time between sessions is designed primarily for rest and relief from the heat, though the temperatures are expected to be cooler Saturday than they have been the past several days. The Lions will also be playing several players on both offense and defense, while Guyer has very few two-way performers.
During the varsity break, the JV and freshman squads from Brownwood and Guyer will scrimmage against one another.
“Saturday is designed to be a work day for in-depth progress,” Freeman said. “When you leave there you know you’re better than you were when you got there. We’re going to create more of a drill circumstance early on, then we’ll move to a couple of segments where we move the chains and the boxes.
“You don’t worry so much about the ending success as much as the meat of the work and the progression of trouble spots. When you get to keeping score, sometimes instead of working in elements you really need to be working in, it becomes competitive. It needs to be a patient process.”
According to the itinerary sheet provided by the Lions coaching staff, the Brownwood offensive portion of the workout will feature a 10-minute stretch drill, followed by eight minutes of individual drills.
The Lions will then work on 20 minutes of run hull, with a two-minute break in the middle. Following a four-minute water break, Brownwood will move into a 16-minute pass hull, with another two-minute break in the middle.
Team offensive work for the Lions will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m. with a pair of 12-minute sessions with a two-minute break in between. Possessions will begin on the defensive 35 yard line and chains and the down box will be utilized. Unsuccessful third downs will return to the 35, while drives that advance inside the 10 will be extended to four downs. Fumbles and interceptions will be dead and stunting on defense is optional.
Brownwood should conclude its team offense session near 1 p.m., then the Lions will work on 10 minutes of red zone offense. Four-down possessions will move from the 25 yard line toward the end zone.
Saturday’s workout will be the first opportunity for Brownwood’s highly-touted, but young, offensive line to measure its progress.
Senior Luke Butler (5-10, 190 lbs.) returns at center, while senior Jon Fitzgerald (6-5, 310 lbs.) and junior Stavion Lowe (6-4, 295 lbs.) are manning the tackle positions, while seniors John Ward (6-3, 310 lbs.) and Dusty Crelia (6-0, 250 lbs.) will line up at the guard spots. Junior Jake Senkirik (6-1, 255 lbs.) and seniors Seth Hoover (6-0, 215 lbs.), Josh Welch (6-2, 315 lbs.) and Robert Funderburg (6-3, 285 lbs.) could also see a considerable amount of action.
“Offensively, as always, it starts up front and it ends up front,” Freeman said. “The offensive line group, that’s where we’re going to hang our hat. We need those guys to be making a strong push ahead. We’ve got good size, but that’s only part of the equation.”
Brownwood returns loads of experience in the backfield, led by junior quarterback Casey Pachall (6-4, 195 lbs.), senior running back Corey Burr (5-9, 190 lbs.) and senior fullback Jordan Longoria (6-1, 220 lbs.). Senior Chris Munson (5-9, 180 lbs.) and junior Kenny Vaccaro (6-0, 180 lbs.) could see time in the backfield as well, or at receiver.
Other Lions expected to get snaps at receiver include seniors Jacob Allen (6-1, 185 lbs.), Garrett Goodwin (5-10, 175 lbs.), Jarrod Howey (5-10, 185 lbs.), Collin Seale (5-10, 170 lbs.), Canaan Cavitt (6-0, 175 lbs.), Taylor Long (5-11, 160 lbs.) and Josh Chambers (6-0, 170 lbs.), along with juniors Parker Taylor (6-3, 185 lbs.), Bubby Harrell (6-0, 185 lbs.) and Travis Holleman (5-7, 165 lbs.).
Tight ends figuring into the mix are seniors David Fisher (5-10, 215 lbs.) and Mitchell Tharp (6-0, 190 lbs.) and junior Shelby Miller (6-3, 185 lbs.).
“Our skill guys, those guys handle this time of the year better, so we look more for precision with those guys,” Freeman said. “We want effort, but we want it to be pretty precise from the get-go.”
When the Wildcats offense and Lions defense return for the 5:30 p.m. session, the teams will follow the same format as what takes place in the first session.
Returning senior starters Grady Staton (5-11, 230 lbs.) and Justin Ragsdale (5-10, 220 lbs.) are expected to see a lot of time at the tackle spots, as are ends Fisher and senior Michael Perry (5-10, 190 lbs.). Welch and Funderburg, along with junior Billy Allen (6-0, 230 lbs.) are also expected to rotate into the front four.
Longoria will line up at middle linebacker, with seniors Chase Holmes (5-9, 180 lbs.), Donovan Carrasco (5-9, 180 lbs.) and Alvaro Garcia (5-9, 170 lbs.) working on the outside. The Lions will be missing linebacker Tracer Skelton (6-2, 210 lbs.), a junior, for the next few weeks after he suffered a fractured jaw in the first week of practice.
The secondary will feature Howey and senior Jason Maldonado (5-8, 170 lbs.) at the corners, and Munson and Vaccaro at the safeties. Juniors Payton Ragsdale ( 5-8, 170 lbs.) and Chris Benevides (5-8, 155 lbs.) and seniors Damian Jefferson (6-0, 165 lbs.), Nathan Wiseman (5-8, 170 lbs.) and Roland Robledo (5-9, 150 lbs.) should also get some work in Saturday.
“This being our first time out defensively, we want to see people flying around the ball,” Freeman said. “We want to see that mentality right from the get-go. We’ve got a lot of guys back defensively that played some pretty intense defense last year.
“We know we’re going to have missed keys and missed reads and some blown assignments. We don’t look to have a whole lot of them, but we expect to have some mistakes.”
When the day is done, Freeman stated the Lions will be evaluated more on desire and drive than technique — for one week at least.
“My No. 1 goal would be just strong, all-out, complete effort,” Freeman said. “We’ll get the knowledge and the mistakes corrected. Effort is what we’re looking for with everybody.”