Mustangs, Lions battle again with less at stake

It’s been only 11 months, but plenty has changed since Sweetwater and Brownwood last met on the football field this past October.Thanks to UIL realign-ment in February, the former District 5-3A rivals are in separate districts. Sweet-water is in 4-3A along with five other schools from West Texas, while Brownwood has been moved into 8-3A with five other schools that are all in Central Texas.The other big change is that Sweetwater has a new head coach. Shane Mobley has taken over for Craig Slaughter, whose last game here just happened to be a 27-14 loss to Brownwoood last October which ended Sweetwater’s season.The Mustangs were in a must-win situation when they faced the Lions back then, needing a victory in order to have a shot at making the postseason. That won’t be the case on Friday since the teams will be playing a non-district game.However, it’s still an important game for both Sweetwater — which is 2-2 after dropping a 43-20 deci-sion at Wall last week — and Brownwood, which is 1-3 after losing 38-14 to another former district rival, Abilene Wylie, this past Friday.The teams are seeking a win they can use as a springboard for the start of district play in two weeks. The Mustangs and Lions have open dates next week.Mobley has faced Brown-wood before, as an assistant to Kent Jackson — the last time in 2007 when Sweet-water lost 55-7 in what was Mobley’s final season here before returning in April.That year was also the last time untl now that the Mustangs and Lions met in non-district, as they were in the same district for the past four years.This year’s Sweetwater- Brownwood matchup pits two teams that are still try-ing to find their identity af-ter up-and-down starts.After nearly starting 3-0, Sweetwater suffered a hum-bling loss at Wall. Brown-wood, meanwhile, has three losses by over 20 points but also a 49-14 thumping of Snyder in Week 2.“The big thing we need this week is execution, both offensively and defensively, and intensity,” said Mobley. “We need to play hard. That’s huge. We need to do that all four quarters.”However, Mobley said that having four starters out with injuries won’t make his team’s job easy. Linebackers Ty Davis and Alex Garcia and offensive linemen J.D. Davis and Chase Saunders will all be unavailable to play this Friday, and Garcia is out for the season. Still, this may be the most competitive game the teams have played since Sweetwa-ter’s last win in the series in 2008. Brownwood has won the last three meetings by an average score of 44-7 and two years ago was No. 1-ranked in the state when it faced Sweetwater. This year’s team has nowhere near that much firepower, though it showed flashes of it against Snyder.Sweetwater has been able to move the ball as it aver-ages 396 yards a game, but those yards have not always translated into points on the scoreboard.A win over Brownwood would put Sweetwater over .500 starting district for the first time since it was 4-2 in 2010, only to go winless in district play. Mobley wants to see his team fired up Friday. “This week in practice has been intense. We’re going fast and furious. We won’t accept mediocrity,” he said.