By A.C. Hall
After a disappointing loss to Azle last week at home, the Brewer Bears needed to send a message as they traveled to Denton on Friday night to take on the Broncos. Their homecoming was spoiled, their push for the playoffs was suddenly an uphill battle, and another loss would mean the season would be all but done.
It’s impossible to know if any of those factors were on the team’s mind on Friday night, but what is clear was that this was a focused and fiery Bears squad that showed up to play spoiler to the Broncos homecoming festivities. We’ve grown accustomed to some great offense from Brewer, but on full display Friday was their defense, who looked truly dominant for the first time since the first game of the season.
The Broncos managed a 95 yard kickoff return early in the game, but they didn’t score on the Brewer defense until a meaningless touchdown late in the contest after the game was well out of reach. The Bears brought a ton of pressure, despite at times only rushing three players. Throughout the night, Brewer sacked the quarterback, flattened runners, and shut down any attempts the Broncos made to pass the ball.
This is all made even more impressive when considering that Brewer was missing one of their best defensive players, linebacker Robert Williams. The defense stepped up in his absence, with senior Tanner Smith leading the charge. Smith was involved in several sacks and was a menace to the Broncos line, quarterback, and running backs all night long.
Offensively, the Bears got off to a very fast start. Denton fumbled on the first play of the game, and Brewer cashed in on the great field position with a quick touchdown. Ahead less than thirty seconds into the game, the Bears never relinquished the lead as they scored again and again.
Brewer got a great lift in the game from Josh Martinez. If a player who plays on both offense and defense is called an iron man, then Martinez was a titanium man on Friday night. He spent the game as a receiver, a defensive back, and on special teams, personifying the kind of toughness and team spirit that has made this such a great team to watch in recent years.
At the receiver position, Martinez had his best game of the year, catching 5 passes for 82 yards. He also contributed on special teams and added several tackles and pass defenses while at his defensive back position.
Another offensive contributor was Chris Gibson. The sophomore spends most of his time as a receiver right now, but he looks to be in position to be the new running back once C.J. Washington graduates after this season. Gibson has shown great growth this year, and on Friday he caught 6 passes for 44 yards and added 24 yards rushing.
When the smoke cleared, the scoreboard read Brewer 45, Denton 13. It was the exact result that the Bears needed, and keeps them in a fighting position in the district standings. They sit at 2 and 2 in the district standings, which puts them into a 3 way tie for third place with Azle and Trophy Club.
Looking at how this past weekend has played out and glancing at the remaining three games on all of the schedules, it appears likely that Azle will be able to lock up the third playoff spot, with the top two undoubtedly going to Wichita Falls Rider and Denton Guyer.
Azle and Trophy Club have the advantage over Brewer when it comes to schedules. Both teams have already played the two district powerhouses (Rider and Guyer), while Brewer is yet to face the wrath of the mighty Denton Guyer team.
This puts even more pressure on Brewer to win their next two games before closing out the season against Guyer. A victory over Lake Dallas in week 9 is something that is easily imaginable for the Bears. It’s the week 8 game this weekend against Trophy Club Nelson that is the one to watch.
Admittedly, anything can happen in the game of football, but there’s a high probability that whoever wins in the matchup between Brewer and Trophy Club this Friday night will end up as the fourth playoff team from district 5-4A.
The Bears made a big statement in Denton, showing that despite that disappointing loss to Azle, they weren’t giving up on the season. If the performance by the defense can carry over from last week to this week, then we just might be looking at the Bears that finally break the long postseason drought that has hung over the Brewer football program.
It’s bound to be an exciting and season defining game, one way or another, so make plans to come out to Brewer High School on Friday night for this pivotal district contest.