Brownwood Lions prepare for old-school matchup with Alvarado

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
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.

In stark contrast to the previous two weeks, the Brownwood Lions will step back in time and play an old-school Alvarado Indians football team at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Alvarado.

Both teams are 2-5 overall. Alvarado is 1-1 in District 5-4A Division I, while Brownwood is 0-2. The winner will take a big step toward making the playoffs – probably as a No. 4 seed since No. 2-ranked Stephenville, No. 7 Midlothian Heritage and Waco La Vega are favored to take the top three spots.

Alvarado lines up with its quarterback under center with a fullback and either one or two tight ends. The Indians utilize old-school running plays like sweeps, traps, counters and cutbacks. They’re not in a hurry to score and seem content to drive the ball at a deliberate pace.

This would appear to be a welcome change for Brownwood, which faced shotgun spread teams from Heritage and La Vega to open the district schedule. The speed and athleticism of Heritage and La Vega burned Brownwood’s defense for 11 touchdowns on plays of 30 yards or longer – including seven runs and four passes.

“We have fared well against teams like Alvarado,” Brownwood head coach Sammy Burnett said. “But we’ll have to play physical and tough-minded. We want to take away the run and make them throw the football. They can throw it, but that’s not what they want to do.”

And even though Alvarado plays at a slower pace, Brownwood’s defense must limit the big plays it has been allowing.

“They look for mismatches, and they run a lot of trick plays,” Burnett said. “We want to force them to have to drive the length of the field, and see if they can run a bunch of plays in a row without making a mistake.”

Brownwood receiver Elias Huerta-Doud (5) reaches to catch 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.

Therein lies another unique challenge with Alvarado. If the Indians are able to drive the field, that would keep Brownwood’s offense, which is coming off its best performance this season, on the sideline.

Despite losing both games, the Lions’ 33 points scored against La Vega were second-most points the Pirates have allowed all season. Second-ranked Stephenville scored 35.

And the Lions’ 25 points were the second-most Heritage has allowed this season. Fourth-ranked Melissa scored 48.

“Our offense has proven the last two weeks that it can compete with anyone in the state,” said Burnett, whose unit put up 508 total yards against La Vega last week. “But against a team that plays at Alvarado’s pace, our offense will only get about 50 snaps instead of the 80 or so we’d get against a Heritage or La Vega.

“We have to maximize our opportunities and take advantage of every possession we have on offense. We can’t punt four or five times and win this game.”

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.

Brownwood junior Chance Jones enjoyed his best start as a varsity quarterback last week, rushing for 194 yards and a touchdown and passing for 160 yards and another score. Konlyn Anderson added 151 yards rushing while Jason Jackson caught four passes for 127 yards and a TD.

Another twist to the Brownwood offense vs. Alvarado defense matchup is that Indians’ defensive coordinator Jason Davis was Burnett’s defensive guy for 10 years at Honey Grove and Farmersville.

“He knows me and what I like to do, but I know him and what he likes to do,” Burnett said. “Every week they’ve come out in something different on defense. We’ll have to see how they’re defending us and make some quick adjustments. It’ll be like a chess match.”

Alvarado’s rushing offense is led by Kameron Webb, a 180-pound junior who has 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jayden Bridgewater, a 130-pound junior, has rushed for 894 yards and seven TDs.

Quarterback West Conner, who stands 5-foot-5, is averaging 99 yards passing per game with eight TDs. Receiver Logan McDaniel has 18 catches.

Defensively, Alvarado safety Kaden Ford has a knack for making big plays this year with 59 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

At least three Lions will be out with injuries this week. Defenders Taylor Bessent and Owen Huntsinger are out with knee injuries. Huntsinger has a torn ACL and is out for the season. Receiver Brayden Daub is out with a concussion, and lineman Alex Reyna is questionable with a high ankle sprain.