Numerous reports have recently surfaced that the UIL on Monday, July 20 will reveal its plans for athletics during the 2020-21 school year.
As of Friday, July 16, the Brownwood Lions’ football schedule remains intact at 10 games. Whether the schedule will look the same in the near future is anyone’s guess. Based on the presumption the Lions will play a full schedule at some point during the school year, here’s a brief glimpse at Brownwood’s regular season opponents.
The Lions again will be be facing one of the toughest schedules in Class 4A Division I in their quest for a 12th consecutive trip to the playoffs.
Four of the opponents for the No. 15 Lions are ranked ahead of the team in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine preseason Class 4A Division I poll. Brownwood has also two games slated against teams ranked in the Top 20 of the Class 4A Division II rankings.
Brownwood returns just four offensive and three defensive starters following last year’s 11-2 campaign, as head coach Sammy Burnett begins his third season Aug. 28 at the No. 3 Lampasas Badgers, which reached the Class 4A Division I state semifinals last year before falling to eventual state champion Carthage.
Lampasas (13-2) welcomes back quarterback Ace Whitehead, the DCTF Class 4A Cover Athlete who recently committed to play baseball at the University of Texas. Whitehead, just 5-foot-11, completed 260 of 373 passes for 4,259 yards with 54 touchdown passes and just six interceptions in 2019. He also rushed for 723 yards added 21 touchdowns on the ground.
Whitehead isn’t the lone weapon for the Badgers, who bring back six offensive and five defensive starters. Running back Jack Jerome rushed for 1,421 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago, while receiver Mike Murray netted 1,014 receiving yards and 15 scores. The defense is anchored by linebacker Case Brister, who amassed 207 tackles, including 22 for loss, with a dozen sacks.
Week 2 finds the Lions making their Gordon Wood Stadium season debut o Sept. 4 against the Midland Greenwood Rangers, ranked No. 11 in 4A Division II and picked to win District 1.
The Rangers (14-1), state semifinalists a season ago, welcome back two offensive and eight defensive starters, but just 11 of 34 lettermen. Three all-state performers are back for Greenwood – running back Trey Cross, with 2,891 yards and 35 touchdowns; linebacker Michael Gutierrez, with 160 tackles; and defensive tackle Connor McDonald, with 96 tackles.
The China Spring Cougars, ranked No. 18 in Class 4A Division II, are the third opponent for the Lions in their second straight game at home on Sept. 11. A former district rival of Brownwood, the two teams split their meetings over the last two years.
The Cougars (4-8) bring back six offensive and seven defensive starters from last year’s bi-district championship squad. Among the returnees are former Brownwood Lion Major Bowden, who played multiple positions on offense and in the secondary on defense. China Spring graduated just 11 of 38 lettermen from a year ago.
The Lions are back on the road in Week 4, visiting the Burnet Bulldogs on Sept. 18. The first non-ranked foe for Brownwood, Burnet is coming off a 6-4 campaign. Housed in District 13-4A Division I along with Lampasas, the Bulldogs are expected to miss the playoffs and finish fifth behind the Badgers, Austin LBJ, Canyon Lake and Fredericksburg.
The non-district slate wraps up Sept. 25 as Class 5A Division II Abilene Wylie visits for homecoming. The Lions have defeated Wylie each of the last two seasons by a combined score of 86-21.
Head coach Clay Martin replaces Hugh Sandifer after 34 seasons and 285 victories at Wylie, where the Bulldogs finished 2-8 in 2019 after a winless 2018 campaign.
Following the bye week Oct. 2, the Lions begin District 5-4A Division I action with consecutive road games at the No. 12 Midlothian Heritage Jaguars on Oct. 9 and the No. 1 Waco La Vega Pirates on Oct. 16.
Midlothian Heritage, a 9-5 team a year ago, is a new foe for the Lions. The Jaguars return five offensive and six defensive starters from a squad that reached the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time in school history before being ousted by eventual state champ Carthage.
Heritage welcomes back receiver Haydon Wiginton (52 catches, 846 yards, 7 TDs) and running back Cullen Stone (883 yards, 12 rushing TDs), while the quarterback position is expected to be a battle between Kaden Brown and Daelin Rader for the starting spot.
The Lions have faced La Vega each of the last two seasons with the Pirates prevailing in both contests. La Vega defeated Liberty Hill for the 2018 state championship but was denied a repeat by Carthage in the 2019 state final.
The Pirates (14-2) return six offensive and eight defensive starters, including quarterback Ara Rauls, running back Jar’Que Walton, monstrous offensive linemen Robert Allen and Andrew Brown, and linebackers Jordan Rogers and LaTravius Johnson.
Brownwood then hosts Alvarado on Oct. 23 in a rematch of last year’s thrilling 37-35 area-round shootout in Denton. The Indians went 9-3 a year ago and notched their first playoff win since 2016, but just one offensive and six defensive starters are back. Alvarado’s JV posted a 7-3 mark in 2019 and several members of that team will be asked to contribute on the varsity in 2020.
The final road game of the regular season is slated for Oct. 30 at the Waxahachie Life Mustangs, a 7-4 playoff team a year ago.
The Mustangs return four offensive and seven defensive starters including receiver Tony Evans (21 catches, 465 yards, 7 TDs) and defensive backs Christopher Gillispie (25 tackles, one interception) and Jalen Mann (53 tackles, one interception).
“The Battle of 377” wraps up the regular season on Nov. 6 as the No. 11 Stephenville Yellow Jackets visit, having lost their last two outings against the Lions.
Stephenville returns six starters on each side of the ball from a 6-5 team last season that lost 17 of 37 lettermen. Key returnees include receivers Trace Morrison (720 yards, 6 TDs) and Gavin Rountree (877 yards, 8 TDs), running back Kason Phillips (941 yards, 5 TDs), linebacker Colton Accomazzo (99 tackles, 7 sacks), and safety Grayson Traweek (four interceptions).