Bulletin Staff Report
CEDAR PARK — For the first time since 2004, the Brownwood Lions will have something to play for in their second 7-on-7 tournament of the summer.
Brownwood’s run of Round Rock state qualifying tournament championships ended at two Saturday as the Westwood Warriors prevented the Lions — who won all 14 of their state qualifying tournament games in both 2005 and 2006 — from getting out of pool play in the final game.
Despite missing seven members of the squad due to the baseball playoffs, the Lions still opened with victories of 27-12 over Burnet and 21-12 over Cedar Park before falling to Round Rock Westwood, 27-14.
“Usually 7-on-7 is an offensive game, but there were a lot of stops defensively on both sides today,” said Lions 7-on-7 coordinator Mitch Moore. “We played hard and competed well and the five guys we had back from last year grew up a little more today. Some of the younger guys stepped up and played well, too.”
After a late start, the Lions wound up playing their three pool games at Cedar Park’s stadium. Due to the rain, each of the four pools was moved to its own stadium with an artificial playing surface.
Both the Lions and Westwood won their first two pool games, so the finale determined which team advanced. The Lions owned a 14-13 halftime lead, which they held until Westwood scored with five minutes left in the contest.
Brownwood’s ensuing drive ended with a turnover on downs with just over two minutes left, and Westwood tacked on a final touchdown in the closing seconds.
“It was a pretty intense game,” Moore said. “I think both teams were waiting for the other to give away the game.”
Brownwood started the day with a 27-12 win over Burnet, which will again be the Lions’ opponent in the third game of the regular season this fall. Burnet knocked off the Lions, 40-22, in the Gordon Wood Classic this past season.
“It was raining during the first game and there were a lot of dropped balls,” Moore said. “We were up 14-6 at halftime, then we picked it up in the second half. The rain quit and we played a lot better.”
The Lions then got past Cedar Park, 21-12, as the Wolves wound up playing on their home turf.
“This was another defensive game,” Moore said. “We only gave up one touchdown in each half.”
Jordan Longoria sparked the defensive effort with four interceptions in three games. The other returnees from last year’s squad — Casey Pachall, Chris Munson, Kenny Vaccaro and Corey Burr — also performed well, according to Moore.
Among the newcomers to turn heads was Bubby Harrell. With as many new faces seeing as much action as they did Saturday, Moore stated that will only help the Lions the rest of the summer.
“I think they understand more now that the varsity level is faster,” Moore said. “They know they have to be ready every play.”
Brownwood will not be in action again until June 9 when it heads to the Lake Travis qualifier. In the meantime, Moore and company are hoping for a little cooperation from Mother Nature in the month of June.
“We’ve got a couple of weeks before the next tournament and we need it since we’re a little behind on our 7-on-7,” Moore said. “With all the rain, we haven’t been able to get outside as much as we have in the past.”