By Pat Turner
Stephen Basore’s nine years at Brennan has breezed by like a whirlwind.
However, it has been a pleasant whirlwind for Basore, who has been the Bears’ head coach since day one.
Following that 0-10 inaugural season, the Bears have made major strides with winning records and playoff appearances each season, including a trip to the Class 4A Division I championship game in 2013.
As season No. 9 unfolds, Basore and the Bears are looking to keep their winning tradition in good standing.
“It’s hard to believe it’s gone by so fast,” Basore said. “I think our kids are aware of the winning tradition. I still credit those seniors in 2011 (Brennan’s first winning season and playoff berth). They had a signature win over Boerne Champion and I told them they set the standard for success.
“Fortunately, we’ve had that success. We want to keep it going. We hope the players want to take on that tradition and continue it. It’s been quite the adventure.”
Going into the season, Brennan is considered one of the top contenders to battle for District 28-6A crown.
However, this year’s district race offers a different twist with a nine-game schedule. That occurred when NISD decided to do away with the zone format, which divided the 10 teams the past four years.
After a scrimmage and a non-district encounter with Reagan, it’s all serious business for the Bears the rest of the way.
“It’s going to be something different for us,” Basore said. “We’re all in the same boat. I like the idea we get to play everyone in district. It should be exciting. It will be a new challenge.”
Basore is looking for business to be good with more experience and a healthier look.
Brennan, which struggled through an 0-3 beginning after losses to Reagan (37-34), Judson (44-28) and Johnson (20-17) a year ago, battled injuries throughout the season.
Through the ups and downs, the Bears got stronger as the year went on to qualify for the playoffs.
“The injuries hurt us, especially late in the season,” Basore said. “But our kids kept playing hard. We’re proud of what we did. You learn over time to appreciate every win you get. Sometimes they’re pretty and sometimes they’re ugly. We want to get the wins and move toward our goals of playing football and having a deep playoff run.”
However, balance is present as a potent passing attack appears to be surfacing with junior quarterback Jordan Flores.
“We want to be balanced and explosive,” Basore said. “That’s what you always want on your offense. We have the ability to do that. We’ve been pretty run-heavy the past couple years. But our quarterback gives us the chance to do more.
“He probably throws as well as any quarterback I’ve been with in my 24 years of coaching. He played a little last year and got his feet wet. He really had a good spring. He has a good grasp of what we want. He finds ways to make plays. That makes it exciting for sure. There’s always a learning curve when you go from a backup to a starter and a sophomore to a junior, but I think he’ll handle it well.”
A quality receiving corps headed by three-year starter Jordan Smith, Darryon Tolfree and Demari Walker adds to Brennan’s passing attack. Making the offense complete is a stout line led by three-year starter Mario Reyes and Jared Linderman.
On the defensive side, the Bears are secure at linebacker with Anziah Williams, Greg Dawson, Nathan Aldaco and Kyle Cline.
Jeffrey McMillin leads the front work and Dashaun Tolfree guides a swift secondary.
“I think we have more speed and that always helps on defense,” Basore said. “We tried to bulk up the size of our line to handle the skills of our opponents. If we can take advantage of our speed and play aggressive football, we can be better.”
Now, the key is handling the demanding schedule that lies ahead.
“I believe that is why spring ball is so important,” Basore said. “We had a great spring. We had a great summer of work. But we have to hit the ground running when we come back. Everyone has been working hard. If we can translate that into our workouts, scrimmage and the Reagan game, hopefully that sets the table for the year.”