The Brownwood Lions should find out how they stack up against the Class 4A Division I elite relatively quickly, as Saturday's initial scrimmage brings the reigning state runner-up Liberty Hill Panthers to town.
The JV and freshman squads will scrimmage at 10 a.m. on opposite ends of the Gordon Wood Stadium turf, while the Lions and No. 4 Liberty Hill — according to Dave Campbell's Texas Football — will have the entire field to themselves beginning at 11 a.m.
“We’re not a program that’s going to scheme Liberty Hill or Burnet in those scrimmages, we’re going to get better at what we do,” Burnett said following this past Saturday's intrasquad. “Liberty Hill is a very physical football team and what I want to see in that scrimmage is us matching their physicality.”
Regarding the varsity format, the Lions first-team defense will square off with Liberty Hill's first-team offense for 12 plays, then Brownwood's first-team offense will be on the field for a dozen plays. The second-team units for both teams will then take the field for 12 snaps each. The scenario will be repeated, with the snap number reduced to 10 in each set.
Drives will start on the 30 yard line where the ball will be returned if a first down is not achieved in three snaps. Once inside the opponents' 20, teams will have four opportunities to score. The drive will also extend past 12 plays if a team is in the red zone. Regarding penalties, if one is accepted the play doesn't count. If a penalty is declined, the play will count.
No live quarter or half is anticipated this week.
Through the first two weeks of practice, which will conclude with Saturday's scrimmage, Burnett has been most pleased with the leadership exhibited by the senior class.
“Our senior leadership is strong and we've got to have it,” Burnett said. “Zach Strong, Cooper Swanzy, A.J. McCarty, Drew Huff has come in and meshed right in, Landon Harris is a quiet guy who is new but leads by example in his work ethic, our linemen Theo Bryant and Brandon Farrow, I could go down the list.
“They're modeling what it takes to be successful as a senior for the younger guys to learn. In the past it wasn't done that way and the younger kids weren't learning the way to lead but I think those guys decided they wanted to be different and they wanted to step up and lead.”
Getting acclimated to the August heat is a struggle for most teams, and Burnett is eager to see how the Lions handle the conditions, as well as an opposing team.
“Areas I think we need to grow is our mental toughness,” Burnett said. “I think that's a lot of the game. Even though it's 104 degrees outside we still have to practice, we still have to work. What are you going to do with the time that you have while you have it, because it will pass. And when it passes are you going to be in a position to be successful because you've done the work needed during that time? We're preaching that and I think we're all right in that area, but I want to be better than everyone else. I want to be extremely mentally tough and be able to grind and have grit.”