Brownwood posts 2-2 record at state after falling to LaFeria, 37-32

COLLEGE STATION — The Brownwood Lions wrapped up the 7-on-7 season Friday morning in the round of 32 during the championship bracket portion of the Division II state tournament at Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.

After finishing in a three-way tie for first place in Pool E Thursday, the No. 2 seed Lions dropped a 37-32 decision to Pool A No. 3 seed LaFeria.

“I'm proud of our kids' effort but we still have a lot of discipline issues we have to address when it comes to doing what you're told to do, reading what you're supposed to read and executing and finishing plays,” Lions second-year head coach Sammy Burnett said. “We had some bright spots. Drew threw the ball extremely well, better than he has so far. We had some receivers catching footballs and making big plays. I thought we played pretty sound defensively but we gave up some big plays and that's what hurt us.”

Quarterback Drew Huff, a transfer from Mineral Wells, hurled five touchdowns against LeFeria — a pair to Zach Strong and one apiece to Khyren Deal, Reece Rodgers and Baylor commit A.J. McCarty.

The Lions trailed 19-14 at halftime, but grabbed a 20-19 edge when Huff connected with McCarty. Rodgers' scoring grab later staked the Lions to a 26-25 advantage, while Strong's second touchdown catch gave Brownwood its final lead, 32-31.

LaFeria recaptured a 37-32 edge in the closing minutes, while the Lions' final drive ended with a turnover on downs.

“This morning I just don't think we showed up,” Burnett said. “We were sort of late getting there, kids were straggling in. We just walked on the field unprepared and we got beat by a team would should beat 10 out of 10 times and those are just the facts.”

In pool play Thursday, the Lions defeated Pleasanton, 34-26, and Stafford, 27-13, but were upended by Waxahachie Life, 26-16, in the finale which created the three-way tie.

Against Pleasanton, Brownwood opened a 20-6 halftime cushion as Huff connected with Deal, Strong and Rodgers on scoring tosses before intermission. In the second half, Huff tacked on touchdown passes to Damion Jones and McCarty.

Defensively, Rowdee Gregory picked off a pass on Pleasanton’s first possession of the contest.

In the win over Stafford, the Lions again built a 20-6 halftime advantage as Huff tossed three more touchdowns to Deal, Rodgers and Dane Johnson. The Lions recorded an additional touchdown in the second half, hauled in by McCarty.

“(Thursday) we started slow in the first game but were successful,” Burnett said. “Then we played a good Stafford team from Houston and dominated. I thought we played well in the third game (Waxahachie Life) but the momentum swung when we threw a pick six when we had an opportunity to go in and go up by another score. That turned the momentum and we got into a little panic mode when facing a little adversity and didn't pull that game out.”

In five tournaments — four state qualifiers and state — the Lions won 11 of 18 contests.

“We always have areas where we need to grow, but we got a good opportunity to evaluate our kids and we have a good starting point going into the season, better than we had last year, in terms of knowing our kids and knowing what they can do and where they can play,” Burnett said.

Preseason practices for the Lions begin Aug. 5 with the first scrimmage Aug. 17 at Gordon Wood Stadium against reigning Class 4A Division I state finalist Liberty Hill. The regular season kicks off on Aug. 30 at Brock, which is ranked No. 6 in Class 3A Division I by Dave Campbell's Texas Football.

“Now we're going to shift our focus to real football which is the 11-man game,” Burnett said. “We're going to make sure we're sound in our schemes during our strength and conditioning time we have during the week when we have time to work with our kids individually. We're going to work on what we do and make sure we have our system in the best that we can before August hits.”