Brownwood Lions look to get back on track against Burnet for homecoming

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Brownwood Lions outside receiver Thad Hinds celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against Lampasas on Friday night at Gordon Wood Stadium.

Sammy Burnett doesn’t believe in burning the game film after a rough outing.

“We try to learn something from every game,” the fourth-year Brownwood Lions head football coach said following last week’s 57-21 loss to No. 5-ranked China Spring. “We’ve got 36 kids on our varsity, and 24 of them have been on the varsity for three games or less. We’ve got a bunch of young kids trying to learn to play on Friday night. It’s a higher level for them, and we’re playing good teams.

“It makes for a tough learning curve.”

The Lions will continue their journey to gain more experience and improve when they host the Burnet Bulldogs in a 7:30 p.m. Friday nondistrict game matching two Class 4A Division I teams. Friday also will be Brownwood’s homecoming game at Gordon Wood Stadium.

Burnet is 0-2 after having to close its campus for two days last week and cancel its Sept. 10 game against Boerne. The Bulldogs have lost to a pair of 5A DII teams in Leander Rouse 44-7 and Marble Falls 41-9.

Meanwhile, Brownwood is 1-2 with a one-point loss at Greenwood and a 36-point loss at China Spring since opening with a 58-55 win over Lampasas.

“We’re staying with the kids we’ve got because it is what we’ve got,” Burnett said of his junior-heavy lineup. “We still believe in our kids. We’ve got to teach them how to play faster and play with more physicality. We’re trying to address those issues as quickly as possible.

“And we have to do this with some depth issues. We’re a little banged up.”

The players likely out for this week’s game include linemen Zaiden Lopez (COVID) and Damian Sanchez (ankle), along with starting cornerbacks Case Markham (concussion) and Noah Barron (shoulder). Receiver Brayden Daub is out with a separated shoulder, and no less than three other Lions are playing through aggravating bumps and bruises.

Brownwood’s season has been a mixed bag of ups and downs so far. On the up side, quarterback Chance Jones hasn’t thrown an interception, and the Lions have a plus-three turnover ratio through three games.

On the down side, the Lions’ defense is allowing 44 points and 462 total yards per game. Also, since the 58-point outing against Lampasas, the Brownwood offense is averaging 20.5 points – which isn’t enough in today’s fast-paced world of Class 4A football. Jones also needs to improve his 44-percent pass completion percentage.

Another plus has been the rushing of Konlyn Anderson, who is the second-leading rusher in the Abilene Big Country area with 557 yards and five touchdowns in three games. Jones is 32-of-73 passing for 438 yards and five TDs. Jason Jackson leads the Lions in receiving with 12 catches for 213 yards and three scores. Elias Huerta-Doud is second on the team with 10 catches.

Burnet has had problems getting untracked offensively with 159 total yards and a 2-for-13 showing on third-down conversions against Rouse. Against Marble Falls, the Bulldogs finished with 209 total yards and a 3-for-9 performance on third downs.

Burnet’s Landon Christian, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, has been a steady at receiver, including catches of 33 and 34 yards against Rouse. Burnet has used three quarterbacks in sophomore lefty Grant Glidewell, junior Tanner O’Hair and sophomore Grant Jones, who scored the Bulldogs’ lone touchdown against Rouse on a 6-yard run.

Against Marble Falls, running back Jose Rodriguez rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries while running back Ethan Wolfe finished with 80 yards on just four carries.

“They’ve got a solid team with decent running backs, and they mix it up between the run and pass,” Burnett said of the Bulldogs. “On defense, they run a 3-3 stack and try to confuse you with stunts and slants.”

Burnet’s first-year head coach Bryan Wood wasn’t hired until May 27 after a late coaching change. Wood has a 188-69 career record that includes stops at Shallowater, Canyon Randall and Sunray. All of those schools are in the Lubbock/Amarillo area.