I’ve showered, or perhaps drowned, you in football talk over the last few weeks, but there are plenty of other local sports teams who deserve praise for their performances thus far. So allow me a few moments of your time to shine the spotlight on some standouts in our area.

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The Brownwood High School varsity tennis team, as of the time I’m writing this column, were undefeated with eight consecutive victories to begin the fall campaign.

On the first Monday in August, I stopped by the initial practice to snap a few photos and spoke with head coach Mark Davis, who wasn’t really sure what to expect from the crop of talent he had at his disposal for the 2013-14 school year.

A few days later, Davis sent me a text almost giddy with anticipation for the preseason interview which — trust me folks, not everyone is thrilled when I drop by for those. Davis was gushing with optimism following the first week of practice, and it’s easy to see why now.

Brownwood has not only defeated all its early competitors, it dominated essentially every foe. Playing the likes of Burleson, Burleson Centennial, Iowa Park, Killeen High, Copperas Cove, Graham, San Angelo Lake View and Gatesville — all but three of which are in higher classifications — no team came within five points during the matches.

The Lions and Lady Lions cruised by Gatesville, 17-2, Thursday in their first district match, with 8-3A contests remaining against Burnet (Sept. 26), Lampasas (Oct. 5) and Liberty Hill (Oct. 17).

The top two teams from each district will move on to regionals Nov. 1-2, and at this point it would be hard to argue Brownwood as anything but the 8-3A favorite.

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Cross country has flourished at Brownwood High School since Don Hood’s arrival. In what has been a gradual, consistent climb, the Lady Lions and Lions have become district dominators, consistent regional qualifiers and also have a few state appearances to their credit.

A year ago, the Lady Lions became the first Brownwood team to appear at a UIL cross country state meet, while Lion Dylan Person joined the fun as an individual.

The website TXRunning.com has taken notice of the Brownwood program as prior to the season Person was selected as the No. 4 boys runner in Class 3A. And earlier this month, Lady Lion Tori Burkett was named the Class 3A girls runner of the week by TXRunning.com.

Both Person and Burkett finished first in their respective races at the McMurry Invitational, the most recent outing for the Brownwood cross country teams, and the Lady Lions also placed first as a team while the Lions came in second.

Hood stated prior to the season he felt the Lady Lions could return to Round Rock and the entire Lions team could qualify for state as well. Based on the start to this season, and the improvement the program has shown since Hood’s arrival, it’s definitely within the realm of possibility.

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Seeking its first postseason appearance since 2000, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets volleyball team is off to its best start in more than a decade.

Ken Carver, the winningest and longest-tenured coach in program history, returned 10 members of last season’s 10-16 squad and added a handful of newcomers who have obviously meshed well with the returnees.

Heading into the weekend, Howard Payne’s 7-1 record was tied with Mary Hardin-Baylor for the best of any American Southwest Conference team, and was one of just four winning records by teams within the league.

In the revamped ASC, the two divisions have been scrapped and instead the top six seeds from the 10-team league will advance to the conference tournament, hosted by the regular season champion.

ASC action begins for the Lady Jackets Friday at the former Crossover event hosted by UT-Dallas. Howard Payne will face LeTourneau, Mississippi College, UT-Tyler and East Texas Baptist over a two-day stretch. Another strong weekend by the Lady Jackets could put the program in the driver’s seat in terms of ending its 12-year postseason drought.

Prior to the weekend action, however, the Lady Jackets will play their first home match of the season at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Brownwood Coliseum against Schreiner.

With both the Brownwood and Bangs volleyball teams on the road Tuesday, a perfect opportunity exists to check out the Lady Jackets in their quest to again become a postseason contender.

 

Derrick Stuckly is the editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sundays. He may be reached by e-mail at derrick.stuckly@brownwoodbulletin.com.