Brownsboro sits at 2-0 in district play and already have more wins in 2015 (four) than the Bears did in the past two seasons combined (three). Head coach Jason Hooker is in his third year at Brownsboro, and he’s finally starting to see the culture and identity he set out to build pay off on Friday nights.

“It takes a little time to establish an identity on offense and defense. It is our third year here and we’re starting to play the football I thought we were capable of playing,” he said. “We had to assemble the right staff, get our guys to buy in with our weightlifting and offseason program, and our kids are finally comfortable with what we want and what we need from them.”

Most predicted Brownsboro would finish near the bottom of one of the toughest districts in the state, but consecutive wins over Chapel Hill and Henderson have the Bears sitting in position to make the playoffs this season. Brownsboro last reached the playoffs in 2009.

“We’re a small team compared to the other schools in this district and classification, so we need to stay healthy. We’re healthy right now and that wasn’t true last year. We had six guys, including our quarterback, miss most or all of district play in 2014,” Hooker said. “It was huge to get a couple of big wins to show our guys we’re moving in the right direction. We’re starting to see it on the field and we needed those kinds of wins to get some respect. It helped our kids gain some confidence, and it makes all the hard work worth it. There are no short cuts. We put in the work, and we’re seeing the results of our labor.”

One of the main reasons for that success is quarterback Tamrick Pace. The former wide receiver led the Bears on a game-winning drive against Henderson to stay undefeated in district play.

“Tamrick (Pace) has played wide receiver for us in the past, and some in the secondary. He hadn’t played quarterback before this year, but as a staff, we felt like he was too explosive to not get him more touches. He’s a student of the game, and a lot of credit needs to go to our staff for putting him in the right positions,” Hooker said. “We didn’t know for sure if it’d work out, but he’s worked really hard, and our team is better for it.”

The road doesn’t get any easier. Henderson takes on Carthage this week. Carthage is 37-3 in district play under head coach Scott Surratt.

“Their size is impressive. They have great talent, and a huge defensive line with two really good defensive ends. It is going to be a challenge for us, but we’re excited to be on this stage, and for people to be talking about this game. We wanted to be on this stage, and now we get our chance. Not a lot of programs in the state get to be challenged by the teams we get to play in our district,” Hooker said. “I’ve known Coach Surratt for a long time, and we’ve faced off at different places. I have a ton of respect for him, and he’s a great coach. It’ll be a test, but we’re very happy people are looking forward to this game, and we get to be on a stage like this.”