By A.C. Hall
The Brewer Bears faced a difficult uphill climb in their late season push to make the playoffs, but their postseason bid has ended one week earlier than most predicted. To keep their hopes alive, the team needed a win in Lake Dallas this past Friday night. Despite languishing towards the bottom of the district standings all season, Lake Dallas surprised many by coming out strong Friday night and stunning the Bears by beating them 35 – 20.
Warning signs that something was amiss came early in the contest, as the Bears fell behind 21 – 3 in the first quarter. Lake Dallas broke open several huge runs, finding tons of room once they got past the first level of Brewer defenders.
Special teams also played a big role early in the game. Lake Dallas returned a punt for 90 yards, giving them three first quarter touchdowns despite only having two offensive drives in the quarter.
The Bears had opportunities early on, as Lake Dallas fumbled twice. Brewer was only able to turn those mistakes into 3 points, as their passing game was nowhere to be seen in this pivotal contest. Quarterback Skyler Howard had to stand by and watch as for the second week in a row pass after pass was dropped by his receivers.
With starting running back C.J. Washington out with injury, the rushing duties fell to Chris Gibson, who appears to be on deck to be the starter next season with Washington graduating. Gibson showed flashes of greatness at different moments in the game, but also fumbled the ball several times. He finished the night with 168 yards on 16 carries.
Heading into the third quarter down 28 – 6, Brewer needed to string together some scoring drives. Unfortunately, their first two drives ended in fumbles. This allowed Lake Dallas to continue running down the clock and kept the momentum squarely on their side.
One promising Brewer drive later in the game also ended in a turnover. After converting a short fourth down play to keep the drive going, the Bears soon found themselves facing a much longer fourth down. This time, a fake punt pass completion looked like it was going to keep the drive alive. Before the play ended, the ball ended up on the ground in another Brewer fumble, and Lake Dallas put a stop to a potential scoring drive.
Down 35 – 20 late in the game and trying desperately to get some quick points, the Bears saw their last drive of the night also end with a fumble. The huge number of fumbles on Friday night were most certainly a deciding factor in the loss, which is strange for a team that hasn’t had much trouble with turnovers at all this season.
The loss means that even if the Bears can defeat the district leading Denton Guyer in the final game of the year this Friday night, they will not make the post season.
Being on the outside looking in yet again isn’t where fans hoped to see the Bears as the 2012 season came to a close. While the Coach Paul Sharr era has certainly brought a big improvement to the Brewer Football program, with that improvement has brought increased expectations. The extra excitement has kept fans hoping for a postseason berth that hasn’t materialized yet.
Sharr and company were facing a tough road this season with this new district that was packed with talent, but even Sharr said prior to week one that his hope was that at this point in the year we’d look at the 2012 Brewer Bears as the team that returned the program to the playoffs. That didn’t happen, and now there’s a long wait to see if 2013 can finally be the year that the long playoff drought comes to an end.
After the 2011 season, Sharr lost the heart of his defense to graduation, and after this 2012 season, the same will be happening to the offense as both Howard and Washington graduate. That leaves some key holes to be filled and a lot of work to be done as the look towards a possible 2013 playoff run begins.
Before all of that, there is one more game to be played. The Brewer Bears have fought hard all year, and there’s plenty for the squad to be proud of this season. The seniors will be honored at BHS prior to the game on Friday night, so come out and show your support to these young men who have given the community much to cheer about over the past ten weeks.