Brownwood Lions open season at home with test against No. 20 Lampasas
The Brownwood Lions would prefer to win all five of their nondistrict football games this season, but the No. 1 goal is improvement for the District 5-4A Division I schedule later in the regular season.
It’s a process young teams like the junior-heavy Lions, who finished 4-6 last year, must go through if they hope to develop into a district contender.
Brownwood’s process begins for real with Friday’s 7:30 p.m. regular-season opener against the Lampasas Badgers at Gordon Wood Stadium. Both the Lions and Badgers are Class 4A Division I teams, and Lampasas comes in ranked No. 20 in the state.
“After you go through the (preseason) practices and two scrimmages, we all want to see where we stand,” fourth-year Brownwood head coach Sammy Burnett said this week. “We’ve got to be physical and tenacious. We have to play hard on every play. We can’t wait for someone else to make a play. The players have to take ownership in who they are and find their identity.”
An opponent like Lampasas should add urgency to Brownwood’s search for its identity. The Badgers are 22-3 over the last two seasons, including a state semifinals appearance in 2019. They return eight starters from last year’s 9-1 team that beat the Lions 55-23 in the season opener.
In addition to their No. 20 ranking, the Badgers are picked for second place in District 13-4A DI behind Austin LBJ, a state semifinalist last year.
“They’re extremely athletic and physical,” Burnett said of Lampasas. “They’re big up front in their offensive and defensive lines. They ran the ball extremely well in their two scrimmages, but they threw it a lot – I assume trying to figure out who their quarterback is going to be.”
Lampasas played two quarterbacks in its scrimmages, including senior Daxton Brookreson.
Case Brister, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior, is already a decorated linebacker, but he’s also the Badgers’ top running back this season. Brister rushed for 300 yards and six touchdowns last year in spot duty at running back. Joshua Carter, a 195-pound senior, is another starting linebacker also playing running back this year.
Brister and Carter combined for 246 tackles at linebacker last season.
Junior Ethan Moreno is the Badgers’ top returning receiver with 479 yards and five TDs last year.
Defensively, the Badgers figure to put seven players near the line of scrimmage and pressure the Lions’ offense.
“They figure they can cover your receivers long enough to where you can’t get the ball out with the pressure they’re putting on your quarterback,” Burnett said of Lampasas. “We’ll have to max protect the passer. We have to get the ball out quickly on the throw and catch. As soon as they see pass, they’re rushing seven (players).”
Even though Brownwood has a lot of new skill players on offense, Burnett has been pleased with how the Lions moved the ball in the scrimmages.
“We’ve got four or five receivers, so we’re going to have the opportunity to throw the ball anywhere,” the coach said. “Our offensive line has moved people off the ball, and our running backs have run hard. We still have a ways to go, but running out of plays (in a controlled scrimmage) and a couple of turnovers have been the only things that have stopped us.”
The receiving corps Burnett spoke of includes senior Elias Huerta-Doud, along with juniors Jason Jackson, Thad Hines and Brayden Daub. Jackson caught 32 passes for 665 yards and nine TDs last year.
Junior Chance Jones will open at quarterback and be responsible for getting the ball out quickly to his receivers in the Lions’ new up-tempo offense.
“We’ve had some procedure penalties from not having everyone set, but the up-tempo offense gives us the ability to keep defenses on their heels,” Burnett said. “In the fourth quarter, we feel like we can wear teams down.
“In an offense like this, you have to move the chains. You can’t go three and out, and send your defense right back on the field.”
Konlyn Anderson, a 190-pound junior, is taking over at running back after rushing for 130 yards against state-ranked Waco La Vega last year. Third-year starter Ethan Pesina anchors the offensive line at center.
“Our offense has been carrying the defense so far,” Burnett said. “We need (defensive) players to step up and become leaders and not wait for somebody else to make a play. We played better in the live quarters last week against Godley.”
The defense returns 2020 starters in Jordan Leach at safety, Dryden Anderson at linebacker, Case Markham at cornerback, and Christian Chambers and Zaiden Lopez at defensive end. Cornerback Noah Barron and linebacker Brandon Holland each started two games last year. The Lions also moved Taylor Bessent from safety to linebacker and Quentin Thompson from linebacker to safety, Burnett said.
Brownwood outscored 4A DII Godley 21-7 during the two live quarters last week.