Harris Ratings Weekly considers the latest contest for the Brownwood Lions — a homecoming date with the Alvarado Indians — a toss up.

Through three games, Brownwood is literally two plays away from being 3-0. At the same time, the Lions are a blocked punt away from an 0-3 start. Two of the Lions’ three games have gone into overtime with the lone Brownwood victory decided on the final snap of regulation.

So the prediction of a toss up between Brownwood (1-2) and Alvarado (2-1) seems perfectly fitting as the teams will clash at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium.

“You want to win them all and no one hates losing worse than the Brownwood Lions, but with our schedule we knew it was going to be tough,” said Lions first-year head coach Kyle Maxfield. “A break here and there and it’s a little different, but we’re really not concentrating on that, we’re concentrating on getting better each and every week. We want to go 1-0 this week against a very good Alvarado team and I think our kids understand that philosophy.”

After a 27-21 loss to Justin Northwest in Week 1, Alvarado bounced back with a 35-32 victory over Decatur in Week 2 and last week stunned a previously Top 5-ranked squad in Kennedale, 21-14.

“Alvarado is a very physical team on both sides of the ball,” Maxfield said. “They play hard and they do have some size, so it’s going to be a challenge for us to match the physicality. Liberty Hill was a physical team but when you look at the big picture of Alvarado on both sides of the ball, they may be a little more physical. We’ve got to step it up in that area and we have so far this year. One thing our kids will do is play physical and play hard.”

In the Indians’ upset of Kennedale last week, Alvarado forced three turnovers and did not give the ball away. After one quarter, the Indians were up 14-0. Kennedale closed the gap to 14-6 with 8:49 left, but the Indians immediately answered with a 75-yard touchdown pass, which is out of the norm as Alvarado is a run-heavy offense.

Quarterback Brayden Ramsey passed for 121 yards and the touchdown to Trevor Southall, who finished with three catches for 110 yards. Ramsey also rushed for a team-high 55 yards and a 5-yard touchdown while Alonzo Shaw chipped in 41 yards on the ground and a 1-yard scoring run.

Alvarado’s defense was led by Elias Reyes, who compiled 18 tackles, followed by Grant Cook with 11 tackles, Toby Means with nine, Jacob Shockley and Amir Foston with eight each and Paul Weatherby with seven. Foston and Dylan Roudebush recovered Kennedale fumbles, Blake Boyd intercepted a pass and Weatherby tallied a sack.

“Offensively, Alvarado’s been doing the same thing for what seems like forever, kind of like Liberty Hill,” Maxfield said. “It’s out of the Katy system so they’ll base out of the I-formation with a physical running game. It seems like they might be throwing it a little more this year than they have in the past. They have two tailbacks they rotate and keep fresh and their quarterback is very similar to the quarterback from Canyon, he’s got some wheels on him. It’ll be a big challenge to match not only their physicality up front but also the speed they present as well.”

As for the Indians defense, Maxfield said, “Against Kennedale they had 10 guys in the box, but Kennedale runs the wing-T. We’ve seen them against spread teams and the wing-T. They’re a lot like Liberty Hill on defense, they base out of a 50. Their linebackers are good, but I don’t know if they’re as good as No. 35 (Andy Becker) from Liberty Hill, that’s a special dude. They do have a defensive end that’s a lot like No. 89 (Carter Ware) from Liberty Hill, big and strong. They’re definitely bigger than us and probably a little stronger, so we’re going to have to find a way to use our athleticism somehow.”

The Lions enter the game averaging 27 points and 287 yards — 182 passing and 105 rushing — per game with four turnovers.

Quarterback McLane Moore has completed 36 of 62 passes for 547 yards with seven touchdowns — including a season-high three last week against Liberty Hill — and three interceptions. Moore has also rushed for 74 yards, second-most on the team.

Brownwood’s receiving corps is led by Crystan Wright with 12 receptions for 119 yards while other weapons include Jeremy Brown (6-66, TD), Corleone Pressley (5-95, 2 TDs), Blaine Hughes (4-120, TD), Gavin Jefferson (3-55, TD), Braden Jetton (1-75, TD), Rylan Reagan (1-9, TD) and Harley Price (1-8).

After mustering just 46 yards on the ground in Week 2 against Graham, and -3 yards in the first half against Liberty Hill, the Lions finished with 111 yards rushing as a team last week.

Jefferson (45-215, TD) rushed for 93 yards and Brownwood’s first touchdown on the ground, but Price (19-59) has battled injuries throughout the first three weeks of the campaign.

“Gavin got hot there in the second half and was playing fast, and our O-line made some good adjustments,” Maxfield said of last week’s second-half resurgence on the ground. “We saw glimpses of what our offense could be. McLane ran the ball well, they were giving us some looks where we felt like he could get some yards on the ground. A lot of guys touched the ball, a lot of guys made plays, but it’s hard to put a grade on it overall because of the limited snaps we were able to take. We only took six snaps in the first quarter and four in the fourth.”

Defensively, Brownwood is yielding 27 points along with 382 yards — 248 rushing and 134 passing — while creating six turnovers.

Standouts on defense include Brown (32 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT) at safety, Hayden Donahoo (25.5 tackles, 1 sack) and Hunter Mares (24 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 FR) at linebacker, Grant Fanara (21.5 tackles, 1 for loss) in the secondary, Devonte Evetts (15 tackles, 1 sack) and Devon Jefferson (15 tackles, 1 sack) along the defensive front, Dylan Hickey (13 tackles, 1 sack) at linebacker, Wright (12 tackles, 3 INTs) at cornerback, Hayden Tunnell (11.5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 for loss, FR) at defensive end, Gavin Jefferson (9 tackles, 1 sack) at linebacker, Blaine Hughes (9 tackles) at cornerback, Corleone Pressley (8.5 tackles, 3 sacks) at defensive end and Tristin Revada (8.5 tackles, 1 INT) in the secondary.

“Defensively we had a couple of guys that had some missed assignments last week that just weren’t as disciplined as we’d like them to be,” Maxfield said. “But overall our defense has played great. Last week we had a great goal line stand. There were a couple of penalties on that drive that changed field possession, but we didn’t let them in the end zone.”

The wild card in Friday’s game could again be special teams, as it’s been the last two weeks for the Lions. A blocked punt for six points and a kickoff return for a touchdown against Graham catapulted the Lions to a 34-30 victory in Week 2. Last week, however, a blocked extra point and two onside kick recoveries by Liberty Hill resulted in a 30-29 overtime loss for Brownwood.

“We let one slip away, no doubt,” Maxfield said referring the Liberty Hill game. “We won a game against Graham with special teams and the last game special teams cost us in the end by not recovering those onside kicks. It’s stuff we work on every week, we just have to keep working and get better at it.”