Winner to likely face Wichita Falls Hirschi, loser to draw Argyle
The regular season reaches its conclusion for the Brownwood Lions, who are bound for the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium as the District 3-4A Division I rival Snyder Tigers.
At stake in the contest is the No. 3 playoff seed out of District 3. Barring upsets, Friday’s winner will face District 4 runner-up Wichita Falls Hirschi in the bi-district round of the playoffs, while the loser will draw District 4 champion Argyle — ranked No. 2 in Class 4A Division I by Harris Ratings Weekly. Hirschi, meanwhile, is ranked No. 11.
“There’s a lot to play for in this game and that’s what we’ve been talking to our guys about,” said Lions second-year head coach Kyle Maxfield. “It’s the last home game at Gordon Wood Stadium, more than likely, which is an emotional deal. But we’ve been talking about the Snyder Tigers every day, we haven’t been looking ahead. We know both teams we could face in the playoffs are really good teams, and whoever it is will be a very formidable opponent.”
Snyder (2-7, 1-2) is coming off a 49-20 loss to Stephenville and has earned just two victories all season — 37-34 over Muleshoe in Week 2 and a 40-13 triumph over winless Big Spring in district action.
The Tigers are generating 18 points and 226 yards per game on average — 118 passing and 108 rushing. Quarterback Logan Greene has connected on 84 of 173 passes for 917 yards with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions, while rushing for 224 yards and four more scores.
Jenile Burns is the leading rusher with 540 yards and three touchdowns, while primary receiving threats include Jake Chavez (30-248), Nathan Kendrick (17-220, 2 TDs), Jayden Samaniego (13-184, TD) and Cedrick Quiroz (9-119, 2 TDs).
“Defensively, it’s hard for us to tell what their game plan is going to be,” Maxfield said. “The Stephenville game they were without their starting quarterback and used a guy that’s more of an athlete who doesn’t throw the ball as well. We’ll just have to see what kind of game plan they come out with. I think it’ll be similar to what they did against Stephenville, but they had some big plays against Stephenville and caught them off guard early.”
The Lions defense, meanwhile, is coming off its best performance of the season, not allowing a point and surrendering just 56 yards — including 2 in the entire second half — with 19 tackles behind the line of scrimmage in a 56-2 win at Big Spring last week.
For the season, Brownwood is yielding 29 points and 366 yards — 189 passing and 177 rushing — per contest, with 13 takeaways.
Standouts on defense include Patrick Nash (60.5 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack), Hunter Leonard (45 tackles, 6 sacks, 7 TFL, safety), Kirk Vickers (44 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR, 1 INT), Hunter Mares (42 tackles, 1 INT, 4 sacks, 6 TFL, 1 FR, safety), Marcus Mosley (41.5 tackles, 1 for loss 2 INTs), Dylan Hickey (39 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 1 FR), Theo Bryant (34 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 FRs), Santanna Espinoza (32.5 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, FR), Hayden Donahoo (30.5 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 FRs), Ian Moreno (23.5 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack) and Isaiah Marquez (23 tackles, 1 TFL).
On the flip side of the ball, Snyder is allowing 30 points per contest but last week’s loss to Stephenville served as the most points surrendered by the Tigers in a game this season. The week prior, Abilene Wylie mustered 27 points, which was the most allowed since a 45-7 loss to Sweetwater on Sept. 22.
Linebacker Leshun Burns leads the way for the Tiger defense with 110 tackles, including for 23 loss and three sacks. Other players to watch include Braison Kuhl (60 tackles, 5 for loss), Alex Rubio (49 tackles, 2 for loss) and Zaron Bailey (43 tackles, 2 for loss).
“Snyder does some different things on defense,” Maxfield said. “They’ve got a linebacker, Leshun Burns, that’s all over the place. They move him around, blitz him, you have to know where he’s at and get him blocked, but that’s a tough task. They also have a lot of size up front and come off the ball well. Hopefully our athleticism on the edge can help us create some points.”
The Lions are producing 38 points and 396 yards — 228 passing and 168 rushing — per outing, with only five turnovers.
Quarterback Tommy Bowden is coming off a five-touchdown outing — in only a half — against Big Spring, and has completed 120 of 181 passes for 1,889 yards with 24 scoring tosses and just one interception. Bowden has also rushed for 395 yards and six touchdowns, including a 79-yarder last week.
A trio of receivers has emerged as Bowden’s primary targets — A.J. McCarty (35-670, 8 TDs), Nick Salazar (33-483, 6 TDs) and Braden Jetton (26-496 7 TDs) — all of whom caught at least one touchdown pass last week.
Gavin Jefferson anchors the ground attack with 701 yards and seven touchdowns, while Cain Kittrell has picked up 282 yards with three scores.
Making all the offensive production possible is the current line of Liam McCraw, Tyelor Chew, Carlos Benites, Blaize Infinger and Colby Coppic, as regular center Wyatt Jacobs continues to recover from injury.
Last year, the Lions handed Snyder a 63-17 defeat in the regular season finale en route to a bi-district championship the following week.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Brownwood is a 21-point favorite.