Brownwood seeks redemption after allowing 124 points, 1,437 yards last two outings

Coming off one of the worst two-game stretches in terms of yards allowed in the storied history of the program, the Brownwood Lions will attempt to regroup and return to the win column at 7:30 p.m. Friday when they visit the Alvarado Indians.

Since opening the season with a 60-20 victory over Canyon, the Lions (1-2) have since fallen to Graham, 54-49, and Liberty Hill 70-49. During their two-game skid, Brownwood has yielded 124 points and 1,437 yards, including 1,036 on the ground.

“Two things we talked about with our kids that they can control is their attitude and their effort, and it’s been a good week this week,” said Lions second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield. “There’s a lot of question marks on the defensive side of the ball, but we’ve made a few changes here and there to try and shore things up and get it rolling. We’ve got a great plan, and one thing we really stressed this week was running to the ball, pursuit of the ball. We do a pursuit drill three times a week and this week we counted loafs, anyone who wasn’t sprinting to the ball before the whistle. How it progressed this week is Monday we had nine, and they had to run a gasser, the whole team. Tuesday we had four and Wednesday we had one, so the intensity has been good.”

The “gassers” — which is across the field and back, sideways, according to Maxfield — should also aid in the Lions’ conditioning, which Maxfield felt was lacking in the fourth period last week against Liberty Hill, which racked up 772 total yards, including 726 on the ground, and scored 28 of its points in the final quarter.

“We got a little tired there in the fourth quarter, and a lot of that had to do with the type of game we were in,” Maxfield said. “Realistically they were about a touchdown better than us that night. It wasn’t as bad as the score showed. But we’ve done a good job on conditioning this week and we’ve gone back to the fundamentals of blocking and tackling and getting better at that.”

The Lions, however, are battling through a few injuries prior to their fourth contest.

“On both sides of the ball we’re a little banged up, especially for this time of year,” Maxfield said. “A few of our linemen and even our skill kids aren’t 100 percent right now. It’s given some other guys opportunities to get a lot of practice time. Some of the guys who haven’t practiced this week may be able go Friday and some may not, it’s just going to be a game time decision. We’re a little bit thin at defensive tackle and we’re afraid that might be an issue so we’ve been rolling guys in there all week trying to get them ready to go for Friday night.”

Alvarado (0-3), meanwhile, has started its season with losses to Class 5A Justin Northwest, 35-20, Class Division I No. 14 Decatur, 28-21 in overtime, and Class Division I No. 4 Kennedale, 51-7.

“Alvarado’s a very solid team that’s going to be hungry for a win at 0-3,” Maxfield said. “Going to their place, it’s going to be another hostile environment, which is something we ought to be familiar with by now. It’s the same kind of Alvarado team that we’ve played in the past.”

The Indians enter the contest averaging 16 points and 300 yards — 183 rushing and 117 passing — per outing and have scored no more than 21 in a game, and that one went to overtime. Defensively, Alvarado is surrendering 38 points per contest and has allowed no fewer than 28 points yet this season.

Alvarado is led by quarterback Colten Robles, who has completed 22 of 53 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions, while the ground game is anchored by running backs Blake Henderson (280 yards, 2 TDs) and Jacob Shockley (218 yards, TD). Leading receivers include Jacob Syrus (11-174), Jacoby Rivera (4-73, TD) and Shockley (3-63).

“They’re doing the same stuff they’ve done for years with Coach (Jeff) Dixon over there,” Maxfield said. “It’s the Katy offense, he was an assistant there, and he’s been at Alvarado for a while now and had some really good teams in the past. They get in the I and run toss, run stretch, run trap, and then they throw it pretty well. They have two tailbacks that can really go and they alternate series so they stay fresh. And they have enough returning starters to be pretty potent on offense.”

Defensive standouts for Alvarado include linebackers Canon Arnold (30 tackles, 3 for loss), Dayton Kunkel (23 tackles) and Elias Reyes (21 tackles), along with nose guard Amir Foston (19 tackles, 5 for loss). Alvarado has recorded three sacks and forced three fumbles, but has yet to intercept a pass.

“Their top returning tackler (Arnold) is back and they’ll move him around,” Maxfield said. “Up front they have a big nose guard (Foston) that’s pretty athletic, big and strong and we’ll definitely have to account for him in all our schemes. In the back end they have a couple of starters at safety that tackle well.”

The Lions enter Friday’s game averaging 53 points and 563 yards — 332 passing and 231 rushing — per contest, which is on par with the 2010 squad, which rewrote the school’s offensive record book. Brownwood is coming off one of its highest single-game yardage outputs in program history, 712 at Liberty Hill — 377 through the air and 335 on the ground.

Defensively, however, Brownwood is surrendering 48 points and 562 yards — 371 rushing and 191 passing — per game. The Lions have forced four turnovers while giving the ball away just once, which happened in the fourth quarter last week.

Quarterback Tommy Bowden has completed 66 percent of his passes, 49 of 74, for 971 yards with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. Primary receiving threats include A.J. McCarty (15-313, 5 TDs), Nick Salazar (14-329, 5 TDs), Braden Jetton (7-166, TD) and Ben Kallman (6-85). Leading the charge on the ground are Gavin Jefferson (39-351, 4 TDs), Cain Kittrell (22-158, 2 TDs) and Bowden (22-104, TD).

Leading tacklers on the Brownwood defense include Patrick Nash (24 tackles) and Kirk Vickers (20 tackles, 1 TFL) in the secondary, linebacker Dylan Hickey (16.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR), cornerback Marcus Mosley (15 tackles), end Hayden Tunnell (14 tackles, 2 sacks), linebackers Hunter Mares (14 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack, 1 TFL, safety) and Hayden Donahoo (12 tackles, 2 FRs), end Hunter Leonard

(11 tackles, 3 sacks, safety) and tackle Theo Bryant (11 tackles, 1 TFL).

Last year’s game against Alvarado was cancelled due to a lightning storm on Homecoming night for Brownwood.

According to Harris Ratings Weekly, the Lions are a 4-point favorite Friday night.