With a berth in the 7-on-7 Division II State Tournament already in hand, the Brownwood Lions will head to the Burnet state qualifier Saturday for three more contests.
The Burnet field consists of 24 teams paired in eight three-team pools. Beginning at 9 a.m., the Lions will compete in Pool C against Fredericksburg and Brady and then — being unable to advance to the semifinals due to already clinching a state berth — face one of the teams again in a second place vs. third place consolation contest, ensuring three games for every team.
The eight pool winners will move on to the quarterfinal games at 1 p.m., with the four winners advancing to the 2 p.m. semifinal contests. The winners of the semifinals will punch their tickets to Veterans Park and Athletic Complex in College Station June 28-29.
Pool A features state qualifier and host Burnet, Caldwell and Jarrell; Pool B features McGregor, San Antonio Christian and Gatesville; Pool D is comprised of Waco Connally, Bandera and Little River-Academy; Pool E is made up of Johnson City, China Spring and Marion; Pool F includes state qualifier Boerne, LaGrange and Lago Vista; Pool G houses state qualifier Midlothian Heritage, Cameron Yoe and Lorena; and Pool H features Stephenville, Lampasas and George West.
Brownwood is coming off a 4-0 performance at the Gatesville state qualifier last weekend, defeating Mineral Wells (31-19), Little River-Academy (40-13), Cameron Yoe (40-25) and Lampasas (33-19).
“To qualify in our first event is a big deal for us and we don’t have to worry about that anymore,” Brownwood Lions head coach Sammy Burnett said following the conclusion of Gatesville action.
Looking ahead to the remainder of the qualifiers at Burnet, at Jim Ned on June 15 and at Brownwood on June 22, Burnett said, ““I want to see us grow, execute a little more, expand the playbook a little more, and understand the playbook in situations. Continue to execute, don’t drop balls and don’t stop ourselves.
“Defensively, I want to see us continue with good coverage, good technique and a lot of team discipline.”
In Gatesville action last weekend, the Lions allowed just two first-half touchdowns in four games. Brownwood also picked off four passes — two by Grayson Swanzy and one each by Cooper Swanzy and Clayton Bertrand — while forcing 15 three-and-outs along with a pair of stops in goal-to-goal situations.
“A lot of that is communication, knowing what we’re supposed to be in and when they adjust, we adjust,” Burnett said after the Gatesville qualifier. “We made our checks in coverage and other than a couple of technique issues, I thought we did a great job. We put a lot of bodies out there, got to see the chemistry and who worked well together. I was really pleased with the defense.”
Offensively, quarterback Tommy Bowden completed 98 of 144 pass attempts — 68 percent — with 22 touchdowns and three interceptions. Leading receivers included A.J. McCarty with 21 grabs and eight scores; Ben Kallman with 18 catches and three trips to the end zone; Grayson Swanzy with 12 receptions and a pair of touchdowns; Joseph Johnson with 11 catches and a score; Hunter Leonard with nine grabs and a touchdown; and Braden Jetton with eight receptions and two trips to the end zone.
“Spreading the ball around is very important because if you isolate one guy or they double one guy, it puts you in a bind,” Burnett said after Saturday’s action. “But when you have four and five across that you can throw the ball to at any time, that’s huge. The confidence Tommy has in everyone, he’s not eyeballing anyone, he’s just reading the defense, making the correct reads and throwing the ball well.”