7-on-7 state qualifier begins at 9 a.m. at Brownwood High

For the first time since 2013, Brownwood will be the site of a 7-on-7 state qualifying tournament. But with the Lions already bound for their 17th consecutive trip to state, Saturday simply presents an opportunity to improve and gain a better grasp of offensive coordinator John Contrucci’s new system.

The Brownwood 7-on-7 Division II state qualifier will take place at the high school beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. The Lions will begin the day against Merkel in Pool B action, followed by a 10 a.m. contest with Jim Ned and an 11 a.m. finale against Gatesville — a rematch of Brownwood’s 36-14 loss in its only setback at the qualifier hosted by the Hornets a week ago.

Like the Lions, Sonora — in Pool B — and Graham — in Pool C — have already clinched state berths, leaving 13 teams vying for a trip to the 7-on-7 Division II state tournament July 7-8 at College Station’s Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.

In Pool A, Early, the Brownwood JV, Glen Rose and Ballinger will compete. Joining Sonora in Pool C will be Albany, Dublin and Hawley. Along with Graham, Pool D is comprised of Andrews, Brady and Stephenville.

The winners of each pool will advance to the semifinals at 1:30 p.m., with those winners clinching state berths. Teams that have already advanced to state cannot advance out of pool play.

The Lions are coming off a 3-1 performance at Gatesville last week as Brownwood held off Robinson, 39-34, to lock up a state berth.

Brownwood recorded 16 interceptions and returned a pair for touchdowns last week as Blaine Hughes picked off five passes and returned one for a touchdown while Jeremy Brown also snagged five picks. Dylan Hickey added three interceptions, Tristin Revada picked off two passes and returned one for six points and Caydon Vara also grabbed a pick.

On the offensive end, quarterback McLane Moore completed 88 of 129 passes — a 68 percent clip — with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions. Clayton Bertrand connected on 21 of 27 attempts — 78 percent — with three scoring tosses and one interception and Tommy Bowden was 11 of 16 with two touchdowns and a pick. Caleb Hernandez also threw a couple of passes in the first game, completing one while the other was intercepted.

Leading receivers included Gavin Jefferson with 20 receptions and five touchdowns, Braden Jetton with 17 grabs and five trips to the end zone, Crystan Wright with 16 receptions and two touchdowns, Corleone Pressley with 15 receptions and four scores, Brown with 13 catches and two touchdowns, Nick Salazar with 13 grabs and one trip to the end zone, Hughes with nine receptions and two scores, and Revada caught a pair of passes.