BELTON — Jonathon Brooks began his Wednesday signing a letter of intent to play at the University of Texas before boarding a bus with his Hallettsville teammates for the ride to Belton.

The Brahmas worked out at Crusader Field on the campus of Mary Hardin-Baylor and then got back on the bus for the ride to Arlington where they’ll make their first state final appearance.

Hallettsville (13-2) will square off against Tuscola Jim Ned (13-1) in the Class 3A, Division I state championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday at AT&T Stadium.

“It feels great just to have it behind me and not to have to worry about that stuff anymore,” Brooks said.

The Brahmas have their full attention on their rematch with Jim Ned after the Indians claimed a 24-21 win earlier this season.

“I feel like we grew and developed as a team,” Brooks said. “The last time we played them we had a lot of mistakes and it was still early in the season. We came together and we know how it feels to be down.”

Hallettsville coach Tommy Psencik elected to leave a day early and make the stop at Mary Hardin-Baylor, but he did his best to have the trip seem as normal as possible.

The Brahmas took regular school buses, had a regular sendoff and ate sack lunches.

“We’re just trying to keep them real relaxed and treat it as much as a normal game as we can,” Psencik said. “Thank goodness there have been several of them on that Outlawz team when they were little who played in that stadium. They set their goals way back then when they were kids.”

Brooks was one of those players and plans to address his teammates about playing in the home of the Dallas Cowboys before the game.

“Once you’re in the game, you don’t even realize you’re inside the stadium,” Brooks said. “You just worry about going out and playing football.”

Hallettsville linebacker Price Pruett has seen the team make great strides since the first game against Jim Ned.

“I think this team has improved throughout the whole year,” Pruett said. “Ever since we lost to Jim Ned we’ve just been gaining, gaining and gaining. I think we’ve grown together and trust in each other to make the plays.”

The Brahmas have not lost since the Jim Ned game and Psencik has seen their confidence grow as the season has progressed.

“Our God is special,” Psencik said. “There are things that just line up and you know it lines up that way for a reason. There was a reason we played them earlier to show us where we were as a team and where we needed to improve. I think our kids are going to be pretty highly motivated, and I’m sure they are going to fight hard.”

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Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or by email at mforman@vicad.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mikeforman21

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Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate. He has worked at the Advocate since 1982. He has a bachelor's degree from SMU and a master's degree from UCLA.

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