Brownwood’s Maxfield, Early’s Sandford, Bangs’ Bird eager to start preseason practices

Monday marks a new beginning for the head coach of one of Brown County’s 11-man football programs, while second chances are presented for the head coaches at the other two.

Preseason football practices state-wide begin Monday, and Brownwood first-year head coach Kyle Maxfield will lead the Lions on to the field for their first workouts at approximately 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, Early’s Blake Sandford and Bangs’ Jim P. Bird — who were both hired in the summer of 2015 — are anxious to start a season with more than a couple of weeks to prepare.

Maxfield left Class 3A Shallowater and a 72-18 record during his seven seasons to take over a Lions program that boasted an 11-3 mark with a trip to the state quarterfinals a year ago.

“I can’t remember a time when I’ve been more anxious to get started,” Maxfield said. “We have the best coaching staff that I’ve ever been a part of, top to bottom. You can tell everyone in the community is excited because Brownwood is that type of town. We’re looking forward to it. It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re excited to start and take that first step toward being a championship team.”

Sandford, who was promoted to head coach in Early on June 30, 2015 guided the Longhorns to a 2-8 mark in his first full season as a head coach.

“There is going to be a lot less of a learning curve just because the people are all in place and there’s familiarity with the coaches and the kids,” Sandford said. “We were also able to install our offense and defense in the spring and talk with the kids about the language of the offense and defense, calls to make, etc.

“Everybody’s excited, all the coaches have been here throughout the summer for our conditioning program, and the kids are pumped. Time is a great healer after any season. It’s a new bunch of kids and a new attitude.”

Bird also got off to a late start in Bangs last season as he and the bulk of his coaching staff arrived from Ganado on June 26, 2015. The Dragons labored to an 0-10 record a year ago.

“Whether you were 16-0 or 0-10 everybody’s excited about the start of a new year,” Bird said. “Last year was a tough year, but we’re going to have more kids involved and our numbers should be way up. You want to get every kid out you can, but especially the ones you want to build your program around.”

Brownwood will hold its workouts at Gordon Wood Stadium from 7 to 11 a.m., then conduct meetings and special teams walk-throughs at the high school for the first week.

“We still a lot of unanswered questions with personnel but that will all sort itself out,” Maxfield said. “We have a lot of great material to work with. We have some residue left from the great season they had last year and that’s going to propel us into this season. It’s a great situation.”

Early, meanwhile, will hold its meetings before taking the field at Longhorn Stadium at 8 a.m. each day. Bangs will hold its practices from 7:30 a.m. to noon, splitting time between Memorial Stadium and the adjacent practice field.

All three teams will use Monday through Thursday as an acclimation period before donning full pads for the first time Friday.

Weather-wise, temperatures are what one would expect for the first week of two-a-days with highs of 101 or 102 degrees forecast Monday through Thursday, dipping down to 99 Friday for the first day of full pads. Practices will be completed well before the hottest times of the day, but temperatures on turf are considerably warmer than natural grass. Player safety related to the heat will be monitored closely by all three coaching staffs.

The second week of practices for the county’s 11-man schools culminates with the first scrimmages as the Lions host Burnet, the Longhorns welcome Florence and the Dragons entertain San Saba on Aug. 12. The final scrimmages feature Early traveling to Breckenridge Aug. 18 while Brownwood is again at home against Wichita Falls Rider and Bangs visits Hamilton Aug. 19.

More information on the Lions, Longhorns and Dragons — as well as the other 15 teams in the Bulletin’s coverage area — will appear in the annual Pigskin Preview on Sunday, Aug. 21. Also, weekly previews of Friday night action returns Thursday, Aug. 25 in the Blitz.