Longoria, Top-Ranked Brownwood Begin Season

Football season is finally here and the Brownwood Lions, the top-ranked team in Texas' Class 3A, travel to Gatesville tonight to tangle with the Hornets out of District 19-3A. Find out what SMU commit Derek Longoria has to say about the opener, as well as his thoughts on what Brownwood must do to maintain the top spot.

Brownwood is buzzing with excitement this week as the Lions, the top-ranked team in the state in Class 3A, open the season at Gatesville.

"People are really excited," said Brownwood safety/punter Derek Longoria, an SMU commit. "We're starting off number one in the AP polls and everyone knows we have talent. Our coaches told us that when season tickets went on sale, there was a line from the box office out to the street, and this is the first time in several years for that to happen."

A 10-3 team in 2009, Brownwood returns nine starters on both offense and defense, including WR Jaxon Shipley (Texas commit), juniors Kevin Vaccaro and Stehl Ratliff, and Longoria, who racked up close to 100 tackles last year. As a punter, Longoria averaged almost 42 yards a pop.

"We feel really good," Longoria on Thursday night, as he watched the school's junior varsity team in action. "We're on the same pace that we were on in the playoffs last year. I'm really excited; I can't wait for 7:30 P.M. tomorrow.

"We're playing Gatesville, which has seven starters back on each side of the ball. We've seen film on them and they're pretty good. We just have to play our game; they're definitely not going to be a pushover."

Gatesville QB Jake Truss threw for more than 2,500 yards in 2009, but his status for the season-opener could be in question.

"I believe their quarterback has an injury to his left shoulder and the backup might play," said Longoria. "It's possible that they could split reps. We know that they could surprise us with something we haven't seen on film and we'll just have to make adjustments. If the backup QB plays, then we'll treat him like he's the starter."

What are the keys for Brownwood to maintain that number one ranking?

"We have to stay injury free," said Longoria, "and we can't have any bad practices. We have to practice with the same intensity with which we play on Friday nights. If we practice sorry, then we won't play up to our potential in the games."

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