Brownwood Lions face another tough test against Waco La Vega

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Brownwood quarterback Chance Jones (6) throws a pass during Friday's game against Wylie at Hugh Sandifer Stadium on Sept. 24, 2021. The Lions couldn't overcome a 42-0 deficit in the 49-21 loss.

Because it happened during the second half of an 18-point loss, it’s easy to overlook the toughness Brownwood quarterback Chance Jones showed during last week’s 43-25 loss to Midlothian Heritage in the District 5-4A Division I football opener.

Jones suffered a thumb injury during the second quarter last week, and had no feeling in his thumb. That’s why the Lions ran on 16 of their final 19 plays of the second quarter, even though they were trailing Heritage by three touchdowns.

Brownwood was in a desperate situation at quarterback. Backup Case Markham was out with a concussion. Owen Huntsinger, the next quarterback in line, suffered a hyperextended knee during the Heritage game. Jones was all the Lions had at quarterback.

“At the half, we got with Chance and basically asked him, ‘What can you do?’ ” Brownwood head coach Sammy Burnett said. “He felt like he could hand off, and that he could throw the deep ball and some screen passes because there’s not a lot of pressure on the thumb on those throws. You don’t have to throw the ball on a rope on those throws.”

Brownwood's Konlyn Anderson (2) takes a handoff from Chance Jones (6) during Friday's game against Wylie at Hugh Sandifer Stadium on Sept. 24, 2021. The Lions couldn't overcome a 42-0 deficit in the 49-21 loss.

After completing 3 of 7 passes for 8 yards in the first half, Jones ignored his injured thumb and completed 7 of 11 passes for 115 yards after halftime. The second half included long touchdown passes of 37 and 54 yards to Jason Jackson.

Even though Brownwood lost, the Lions were credited with a scrappy effort and playing hard to the end.

“At the half, Chance said, ‘I’ll do whatever it takes’ to keep playing, and that was pleasing to hear,” Burnett said. “He’s one of our team captains, and he competed and played like a team captain last Friday night.”

Jones is wearing a brace on his injured thumb this week, except during practice, when he has it taped.

The two long touchdown passes to Jackson were important because the junior receiver has been the target of double-team coverage all season.

“Once we established the run with Konlyn Anderson, one of (Heritage’s) safeties had to get off Jason and play the run first,” Burnett said. “That created some opportunities for Jason. He took advantage, and Chance got the ball to him.”

Brownwood captains Elias Huerta-Doud (5), Alex Reyna (64), Ethan Pesina (67) and Chance Jones (6) walk towards midfield for the coin toss before Friday's game against Wylie at Hugh Sandifer Stadium on Sept. 24, 2021. The Lions couldn't overcome a 42-0 deficit in the 49-21 loss.

Jones and the Lions (2-4, 0-1) face another tough test this week in their second District 5-4A DI game in Waco La Vega (3-3, 0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium. The Pirates were beaten 35-7 by No. 2-ranked Stephenville last week — a loss that dropped La Vega out of the Class 4A DI Top 10 rankings.

La Vega’s three losses have been to state-ranked teams – No. 2 Stephenville, No. 1 Austin LBJ 28-7 and Argyle 17-14 when it was ranked No. 1 earlier this season.

The Pirates have played three quarterbacks this season, but Burnett expects 6-foot-1 Robert Prescott to start Friday. La Vega also has used multiple running backs, but freshman Bryson Roland has been their best runner in recent games.

“They run the zone read and the counter, and they run it extremely well,” Burnett said of the Pirates. “They run for 2 yards, 2 yards, and then bust it for 70 yards. They don’t have the receivers they’ve had, and it looks like they’re trying to find the right fit at quarterback.”

La Vega averages 32 points per game and allows 19. The Pirates have won two state championships in the last seven years.

“They’ve switched from a four-man front to a 3-3 stack on defense, it appears, because they have more linebacker types this year,” Burnett said. “They try to bounce you outside, then use their speed to run you down.”

From the injury front, the Lions should have Markham back at cornerback this week. Huntsinger is questionable with the hyperextended knee. Lineman Alex Reyna finished the Heritage game despite a high ankle sprain and is hopeful for this week.

Brownwood’s Konlyn Anderson rushed for 141 yards last week to extend his season total to 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Lions defense is focusing on limiting big plays after allowing Heritage five touchdown plays of 30-plus yards.

“We have to make sure everybody does their job and isn’t worried about somebody else’s job,” Burnett said. “On a lot of the big plays last week, we had (Heritage’s) receivers covered, but their quarterback put the ball on the money. On one of their long touchdown passes, we had two defenders there, but they ran into each other.”