Fresh off their first shutout in four years, the Brownwood Lions open the 2019 portion of their home schedule with a homecoming tilt against the Snyder Tigers — and with an another chance to avenge a loss from a year ago.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium.
Last week, the Lions handed the then-Class 3A Division I No. 6 Brock Eagles their first shutout loss at home in the history of a program that dates to 2012, notching a 10-0 victory. Meanwhile, Snyder came up on the short end of a 34-27 home decision against Class 3A Division I Littlefield.
In Brownwood's victory, the Lions did yield 331 yards — including 272 on the ground — but forced four turnovers, including three fumble recoveries, and turned away Brock on all five of its marches inside the 30 yard line.
Defensive standouts in Week 1 included Kris Hobbs (11 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR), Khyren Deal (9 tackles), Zach Strong (8 tackles, 1 INT), Cooper Swanzy (7 tackles, 1 FR), Landon Harris (7 tackles, 1 sack, 0.5 TFL), Theo Bryant (6 tackles, 2 TFL), Rowdee Gregory (6 tackles, 1 TFL), Royshad Henderson (6 tackles, 1 TFL), Ezequiel Ibarra (5 tackles) and Damion Jones (4 tackles, 1 sack, 0.5 TFL).
“Overall I thought our defense played extremely well,” Lions second-year head coach Sammy Burnett said referencing the Week 1 effort. “It was a bend but don't break mentality. Don't worry about where the ball's placed, worry about the next play, and they did a good job with that. If we play with that same intensity we've had throughout the year we can have another crack at a week of redemption against a Snyder team that put it on us last year.”
Snyder finished with 365 total yards — 194 rushing and 171 passing — against Littlefield. Leeroy Tavarez completed 10 of 21 passes for 144 yards with two touchdowns, while Derek Dominguez led all receivers with eight grabs for 92 yards and a touchdown. Jayden Samaniego chipped in two catches for 56 yards with a trip to the end zone as well. The ground attack was sparked by Greg Williams' 143-yard effort on 13 carries, while Tavarez added two touchdowns on 17 yards rushing.
“They have great leadership in their quarterback Tavarez, and he can really sling it,” Burnett said. “Dominguez, they line him up in the backfield and in the slot and he's a little jitterbug; they try and get him the ball multiple ways. Williams is also a dynamic little runner as well. The don't have tall, big guys up front, but they've got some beef. They're big and strong and try to do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and letting those guys squirt through.
“That sort of plays into our hands because we're pretty strong up front with Theo, Kris and Zeke, and we've also got some quickness with our linebackers who can fly around. They do a lot of play action stuff and try to get the deep ball and press you vertically. We have a great scheme for that so I think we're in great shape defensively. If we play like we did last week, that will keep us in the ball game and give our offense an opportunity to put some points on the board.”
Behind linemen Ethan Pesina, Brad Robinson, Jimi Brown, Brandon Farrow and Bryant, the Lion offense churned out 288 yards — 186 rushing and 102 passing — at Brock, with no turnovers and no pre-snap penalties.
Reece Rodgers rushed for 109 yards on 13 carries including a 73-yard touchdown, while quarterback Drew Huff chipped in 77 yards rushing on eight attempts. Huff also completed 8 of 18 passes for 102 yards, with Strong pulling down three receptions for 68 yards while A.J. McCarty contributed two catches for 27 yards.
“When you go back and you want to continue to grow you break down the things you did wrong – and we did things wrong all over, but in a way you could still win,” Burnett said. “Getting better at what you do is important so we broke that down and let our kids know the areas that we need to work on and grow. We'll keep assessing those things and making sure we have the right people in the right positions and become masters of our craft.”
Defensively, the Tigers allowed at least one touchdown in each quarter against Littlefield, and surrendered a pair in the second.
“Littlefield is an under center team that runs a lot of wing, two-back, three-back, which is unlike us,” Burnett said. “They play cover three most of the time. I want to see how well we we do against a team that isn't going to try and stunt every gap and get you before you get to the line scrimmage. I want to see how we control the front.
“If they have a weakness it's in their corners, and they have two linebackers that are sophomore — one played last year sporadically and the other I didn't see on film. They're fast, but still a little green and trying to learn the techniques of their craft so we hopefully can exploit that. They're big up front defensively and do a great job ridding themselves of offensive linemen and pulling them to the ground. If we can get past them and get on the linebackers, I think our running backs will squirt through and get into the secondary and pick up big yards.”
Snyder won last year's matchup, 31-21, on its home turf.
According to Harris Ratings Weekly, Brownwood is a 24-point favorite.