There will be no afternoon start time, no national television cameras and no state-ranked opponent in the Brownwood Lions’ second game of the season — and they’re perfectly fine with that.
After suffering a 41-10 loss to Class 3A Division I No. 1 Brock in Week 1, the Lions will attempt to rebound as they hit the road for the first time this season to battle the Snyder Tigers, former district rivals of Brownwood.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday.
“There’s a little calmness this week without Fox being here and all the schedules that required, so our kids are settling in and I’ve been real pleased with the week of practice,” said Lions first-year head coach Sammy Burnett, who is seeking his initial victory at his alma mater. “The kids’ attitudes are great and they’re growing every day. The kids want to get in the win column and I think we’re leaning that direction. I think we have an opportunity to go out and be successful.”
The Lions (0-1) are facing a Snyder (1-0) squad that picked up a 27-13 victory over Littlefield in its season opener, despite turning the ball over four times. Perhaps the greatest strength for the Tigers is their large offensive and defensive fronts, though they are not nearly the size the Lions faced against Brock.
“They’re pretty big up front on both sides of the ball in the offensive and defensive lines,” Burnett said. “They’re based out of a 4-2-5 defensively and play a little man coverage and a little combo coverage, but I think we can take advantage of them in the secondary. They’re led by middle linebacker J.J. Burns, who is the catalyst of the defense. They like to stunt their linebackers a lot but I think we’ll be able to get the edge on them and use our speed to take advantage against them.”
The Lions, meanwhile, will attempt to improve on the 10 points, 179 points and six sacks surrendered against Brock last week. The key for the Lions will be improved play out of the offensive line of Brandon Farrow, Theo Bryant, Jacob Ruiz, Jayln Jones and Ulysses Villarreal.
“I challenged the linemen a couple of days ago and they’ve really responded this week in practice,” Burnett said. “I’m pleased with where they are.”
Quarterback Tommy Bowden generated the bulk of Brownwood’s offense in Week 1, completing 6 of 19 passes for 138 yards while rushing for 38 yards on 18 carries and scoring the lone touchdown on a 2-yard dive. Joseph Johnson and A.J. McCarty were limited to a total of 3 yards on nine carries between them.
McCarty led all receivers with three grabs for 52 yards, Zach Strong hauled in a 40-yard reception, Grayson Swanzy made a 29-yard catch and Braden Jetton finished with a 17-yard snag.
The Tigers forced eight tackles for loss against Littlefield last week, and Timothy Sosa led the charge with 18 takedowns. Nathan Kendrick contributed 10 tackles while Kyler Teakell and Burns both finished with eight.
“Snyder in that 4-2-5, they take those outside backers and put them over the slots and they may try and split the difference with us but I think we’ll have the capability of getting the edge, unlike last week where Brock had those penetrating sevens and tried to funnel everything into their mike linebacker who had over 200 tackles the year before, so that fit their scheme,” Burnett said. “But I think we’ll be more apt to do more of the things we want to do against Snyder based on speed alone.”
Offensively, Snyder generated 346 total yards behind a balanced attack of 178 yards on the ground and 168 through the air.
Quarterback Logan Greene completed 7 of 14 passes for 130 yards with a 30-yard scoring strike to Shawl Lentz, but also hurled three interceptions. Burns caught two passes for 47 yards while Jake Chavez also hauled in two receptions for 34 yards. Jayden Samaniego had the long reception of the night at 38 yards on a pass thrown by Kendrick, while Kendrick caught a 10-yard pass and Alex Rubio made a 9-yard reception.
On the ground, Burns led the way with 95 yards and two touchdowns, Greg Williams rushed for 61 yards with a trip to the end zone and Julian Flores added 17 yards and coughed up a fumble.
“Offensively, they like to be under center,” Burnett said. “Their favorite formation is just the old school pro I, but they get in multiple formations. They’ll spread it out and throw the ball around, too. Quarterback Logan Greene is a Sammy Baugh relative and can really sling it around; he does a good job throwing the football. We’ve got our challenges, and they’re going to be a good team.”
The Lions, meanwhile, are looking for a better defensive effort after allowing 369 yards — 203 rushing and 166 passing — to Brock, while also attempting to create their first takeaway of the season.
Hayden Tunnell led the charge with 11 tackles followed by Ian Moreno, Clayton Bertrand and Santanna Espinoza with eight each and Grayson Swanzy, Rowdee Gregory, Reece Rodgers, Bryant and Jones with four apiece. Hunter Leonard added three tackles.
“Our linebackers are doing a good job and our front three are controlling the line of scrimmage,” Burnett said. “For the most part they did a great job against Brock in stopping what they really like to do. We just didn’t get off the field a couple of times when we should have, and got undisciplined on the back end and they scored some touchdowns through the air they probably shouldn’t have.
“But Snyder just likes to pound it at you and we’re embracing that. I think we have a great defensive scheme, our coaches do a great job of walk throughs every day and just getting the mental reps that they need so when our kids get on the field they can play fast.”
Special teams is another area where Burnett hopes the Lions will have an advantage.
“Their kicker does a great job of kicking the ball deep, and I hope he does kick it deep against us so we have the ability to set up some returns with some of our guys back there,” Burnett said.
On the injury front, Cooper Swanzy is still out with a broken collarbone while George Nicholas will miss the game as he is in concussion protocol.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, the Lions — who are ranked No. 25 in Class 4A Division I this week — are 16-point favorites.