Comanche football coach Stephen Hermesmeyer has turned a struggling Indian program into a perennial playoff contender during his seven seasons at the school. And though he experienced significant graduation losses from last year’s 12-2 squad, his Indians can clinch their second straight district title with a win over Dublin on Friday.
Hermesmeyer recently took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s team, his wing-T offensive scheme and the status of his program for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.
Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the area’s top games from Week 9 and how those outcomes are shaping the Big Country district races.
Five teams this week in Class 1A broke the 80-point mark statewide with two of them being from the Big Country.
Zephyr hammered Evant 94-48, while the Panthers of Abilene Christian High School beat Granbury North Central Texas Academy 81-36. ACHS’ win marked the first time this season that the Panthers won consecutive games.
Gordon and Hermleigh broke the 70-point plateau this week, while Robert Lee just missed in its 69-20 win over Bronte in the Coke County Rivalry.
In other six-man news, Trent has canceled the remainder of its season due to low numbers.
Weatherford 42, Abilene High 23 — The Kangaroos (3-5, 1-3) scored 35 consecutive points to turn a 14-7 second-quarter deficit into a comfortable road win Friday at Shotwell Stadium.
Quarterback Ken seals hit 16 of 28 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns to lead Weatherford, which outgained the Eagles 478-172 in the victory. AHS (5-4, 2-3) had just 41 yards on the ground, putting extra pressure on sophomore quarterback Matthew Ezzell, who was making his first career start in relief of injured senior Kallin Sipe.
The loss, the Eagles’ third in a row, forces coach Del Van Cox’s squad into a must-win situation this week at Trinity. AHS is still fourth in the District 3-6A standings, but Weatherford now holds the tiebreaker over the Eagles with games remaining against North Richland Hills Richland (3-5, 1-3) and Hurst Bell (1-7, 0-4).
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Cooper 49, Lubbock High 7 — Sophomore quarterback Aidan Thompson passed for a career-high 265 yards and four touchdowns and senior Mason Reynolds had a big receiving day as the Cougars blasted the struggling Westerners to clinch a playoff berth in Aaron Roan’s first season as head coach.
The Coogs (5-4, 4-1) outgained Lubbock High (1-7, 0-4) 479-206, scoring the final 49 points of the game to put this one out of reach by halftime and push their record above .500 for the first time this season.
Reynolds caught five of Thompson’s passes for 131 yards and two scores, while Noah Garcia (5-100, 2 TDs) and Xavier Wishert (9-97, 1 TD) led a 214-yard rushing effort.
Cooper is off this week, before closing out the regular season at home against Amarillo High.
Canyon Randall 24, Wylie 20 — The Bulldogs (0-8 overall, 0-3 3-5A DII) nearly upset the Raiders for their first win of the season, but Jakobe Norman hit Cayden Eason with a 28-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to lift Randall to the narrow win at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.
Wylie fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter before rallying to tie the game with 38 seconds left in the second quarter. Randall (4-4, 3-0) countered with a field goal on the final play of the first half, but Harrison Atwood and Bailey Hicks hooked up for their second touchdown pass with 3:15 left in the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a lead they’d hold until Eason’s TD put the Raiders on top for good.
Hicks had a big game for Wylie, rushing 18 times for 75 yards and catching six passes for 106 yards and the two TDs. Atwood, meanwhile, went 10 for 17 for 120 yards and two scores while running for another touchdown.
With one spectacular performance after another in 2018, one may think that Merkel’s Jonah White would have collected a basket full of Player of the Week awards by this point.
It hasn’t happened.
Through a combination of bad luck and unfortunate timing, White has found himself in our top five on multiple occasions this year, only to be edged out time and time again in a season that has seen a flood of huge performances.
That is, until now.
Coahoma 49, Stanton 14 — The Bulldogs snapped a five-game losing streak behind 218 rushing yards and 171 passing yards by Zach Schneider, who accounted for five touchdowns.
Leading 21-7 at the break, Coahoma put the game away with three straight TDs to open the third quarter. Schneider had a direct hand in all of them, scoring from 15 and 76 yards at the 9:09 and 7:45 marks before hitting Gage Clark with a 43-yard touchdown pass at 3:19 for a 42-7 lead.
Haskell 48, Roscoe 28 — The Indians kept their playoff hopes alive with a three-score win on the road.
Cutter Medford hit 10 of 23 passes for 170 yards and four scores and rushed for 58 yards and another TD to lead the Indians (2-5, 1-2).
Quanah 35, Munday 8 — The winless Moguls led Quanah into the second quarter on Friday, but the Indians scored 29 unanswered points over the final three periods to improve to 5-3 on the season and 2-1 in 5-2A DII play.
Quanah, which wraps up the regular season with games against Wheeler and Shamrock, was led in Friday’s win by quarterback Clayton Laughery, who completed 12 of 15 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown while rushing 12 times for 200 yards and three more scores.
Munday, now 0-8 overall and 0-3 in league play, will need wins in its final two games to earn a playoff berth. The Moguls host Shamrock this week before traveling to Memphis for their regular-season finale.
De Leon 30, Crawford 14 — Kevin Yeager threw for 164 yards, rushed for 102 and accounted for three scores to help the Bearcats (5-3, 3-0) to their third straight victory.
The win paves the way for a possible winner-take-all district title game at San Saba on Nov. 9, if DHS defeats Goldthwaite and San Saba defeats Crawford as expected next week.
Blanco 49, Brady 0 — The Bulldogs fell to 1-7 overall and 0-3 in district play with a lopsided loss to the surging Blanco Panthers.
Blanco (6-2 overall), which outgained Brady 417-106, did the bulk of its damage on the ground, pounding out 332 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in improving to 3-0 in 13-3A DI games.
The Panthers, who built a 42-0 lead by halftime, were led by Cade Felps with 159 yards and three touchdowns rushing, while Tristan Fortner (2-47) and Baylor Smith (4-48) also ran for scores.
Jacksboro 42, Dublin 29 — Landon Davenport rushed for 130 yards and Ethan Fudge added three rushing touchdowns to help Jacksboro hand Dublin its first loss of the year.
JHS, which didn’t pass for a single yard, finished with 468 yards rushing.
Merkel 53, Ballinger 41 — Jonah White rushed for 297 yards and three scores to lift Merkel (3-5, 3-2) to a huge win at Ballinger.
White scored on a 76-yard run with 4:06 to play to help ice the game, snapping a three-game winning streak for the Bearcats, who slipped to 5-3 and 3-2.
Snyder 45, Sweetwater 14 — The Tigers (6-2, 3-1) rebounded from a 49-7 loss to Midland Greenwood with a big win over their archrival.
Trailing 6-0 after a 4-yard run by Alex Gallegos in the first quarter, Snyder responded with six straight scores.
Brock 58, Ponder 7 — The Eagles (7-1, 4-0) took care of business on the road against the last-place Lions, scoring the first 30 points in a dominating effort from start to finish.
Brock outgained Ponder (2-7, 0-5) by a 399-107 margin, getting a strong game from quarterback Tripp Jones, who completed four of six passes for 100 yards and two scores while rushing three times for 61 yards and another touchdown.
Takota Taylor, who had been playing QB for the Eagles the past few weeks, had one of those touchdown receptions to go with a TD run, while tight end Baylor Cupp caught Jones’ other scoring pass, and Toby Morrison, Tommy Merrill and Zakk Young all had touchdown runs.
Andrews 42, Big Spring 20 — Andrews (6-2, 1-0) amassed 519 yards in total offense with near-perfect balance, rushing for 254 and passing for 264.
Brett Leach accounting for all of the passing yardage, hitting 16 of 26 throws with three TD strikes. Esau Flores led the Andrews ground game, with 126 yards and a score on 17 carries.
Wall 41, Eastland 21 — Wall used a dominating defensive effort and 316 yards rushing to hand Eastland a 20-point loss, limiting the Mavericks to 134 total yards, including just 36 yards rushing.
Chase Rios rushed for 153 yards and three scores to lift the Hawks (5-2, 3-0), who overcame a 21-20 deficit with three straight fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Hawley 56, Stamford 42 — Hawley used a 20-6 second-half effort to hand Stamford its second loss of the year and avenge last season’s heartbreaking loss to the Bulldogs.
Quarterback Dylan Frazier had one of his best performances of the year, throwing for 150 yards and four scores and rushing for 123 yards and another TD as the Bearcats improved to 7-1 and 2-0.
Special teams also played a huge role for the Bearcats, who got 173 yards and two scores on three returns from Garrett Hewitt.
Waco La Vega 56, China Spring 17 — Ara Rauls rushed for 103 yards and three scores and threw for 106 to lead La Vega (6-2, 2-0), which can secure a piece of the league title if it defeats Brownwood at home next week.
China Spring, which fell to 4-5 and 0-3, will close the regular season at Brownwood following a bye week. The Cougars, can still see postseason play in the event of a three-way tie for fourth. Another win by Brownwood or Gatesville along the way will eliminate China Spring.
Missed opportunities, struggles in the running game and an inability to slow Weatherford’s passing attack all cost the Abilene High football team dearly Friday in a 42-23 loss to the Kangaroos on Parent Night at Shotwell Stadium.
The Eagles, who failed on several occasions in the first half to capitalize on excellent field position, finished with just 41 yards rushing while surrendering 349 yards through the air, allowing Weatherford to score 35 consecutive points over the final three quarters and turn a game that was tied at halftime into a rout.
Wylie overcame another slow start to put a scare in Canyon Randall on Friday, but a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Jakobe Norman to Cayden Eason lifted the Raiders to a 24-20 win over the still winless Bulldogs at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.
Randall scored its first touchdown less than two minutes into the game and held a 14-0 lead one quarter in, but after going three and out on each of their first three possessions, the Bulldogs rallied to tie the game in the second quarter and took a lead in the third.
Norman’s TD toss to Eason was the only score of the fourth quarter, however, serving as the game winner for the Raiders (4-4 overall, 3-0 in District 3-5A Division II).
BROWNWOOD — For two full quarters, the Big Country Preps Game of the Week was well on its way to delivering every thing it promised on Friday at Gordon Wood Stadium.
That is, until the Stephenville Yellow Jackets stepped in and blew things up with a 45-20 win over archrival Brownwood.
LUBBOCK — Aaron Roan’s first season at the helm of the Cooper football team will end in the same place the previous 11 Cougar seasons have — in the playoffs.
The Coogs thoroughly dominated Lubbock High 49-7 Friday night at Lowrey Field in a District 2-5A Division I game to clinch a playoff berth.
Sophomore quarterback Aiden Thompson, who threw for 265 yards and four touchdowns, said the team wanted to get Roan in the postseason as soon as possible.
WEATHERFORD (2-5, 0-3) AT ABILENE HIGH (5-3, 2-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Shotwell Stadium, Abilene
What it means: After dropping their last two District 3-6A games to San Angelo Central (17-15) and Haltom City Haltom (28-14), the Eagles need a win Friday to solidify their hold on the league’s fourth playoff spot. AHS will have a chance to improve its standing regardless next week at Euless Trinity, but coach Del Van Cox’s team doesn’t want to go into that game needing a win to lock up a postseason berth. This is the 11th meeting between the Eagles and Kangaroos. AHS has won all 10 previous meetings, including last year’s game by a 30-7 margin.
COOPER (4-4, 3-1) AT LUBBOCK HIGH (1-6, 0-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Lowrey Field, Lubbock
What it means: Cooper, which is currently tied with Amarillo Caprock for second in the District 2-5A Division I standings, is looking to pull half-game ahead of the Longhorns with a win over the struggling Westerners. The Cougars have won four of their last five games and can move their overall record above .500 for the first time all season with a victory. This is the seventh meeting all-time in a series that Cooper has dominated. The Coogs are 6-0 against LHS, winning by an average score of 50-5.
WYLIE (0-7, 0-2) AT CANYON RANDALL (3-4, 2-0)
7 p.m. Friday at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium, Canyon
What it means: The Bulldogs need two wins in their final three games to have any hope of extending their streak of consecutive playoff seasons to 25. And since one of those is a road date with undefeated Lubbock Cooper, this is basically a must-win. Wylie, which has never played Randall before, will try to snap the Raiders’ two-game District 3-5A Division II winning streak, which has them tied with Cooper for the league lead heading into this week’s games.
COMANCHE — If there were a cookie cutter mold for a solid small-school football player, it may churn out something that looks a lot like Comanche senior Kade Mercer.
At fullback, he is the workhorse of a CHS wing-T offense. Defensively, he’s one of the Indians top tacklers from his weak outside linebacker spot.
In reality, however, the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder is capable of playing virtually any position on the field at the Class 3A level effectively.
To a large extent, he’s already done it.
Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.
For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week and close Thursday morning.
Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.
Looking solely at the Abilene High stat sheet, it would be difficult to identify the Eagles’ featured running back. That’s largely because that title — and the player who holds it — can vary from drive to drive.
With injuries and position changes impacting that spot this season, the AHS coaching staff has taken more of a committee approach to the running game. But the trio of Xavier Carrillo (76-397), Phonzo Dotson (59-395, 4 TDs) and Esai Jaques (64-215) have combined to provide the offense with steady and needed production.
With everyone healthy and more comfortable with their roles within the offense, the members of that committee are excited about what the final two weeks of the regular season holds and eager to bring a new level of consistency to their play as the playoffs approach.
With four regulars who saw time a year ago, including a three-year starter in Thomas Squyres, Cooper coach Aaron Roan knew his offensive line would be a strength at some point.
But even with some experience on the depth chart, it still takes time to build the familiarity and chemistry needed to excel up front — especially when you have guys in new or expanded roles.
Roan saw this concept in action early in the season, when his team averaged just 272 yards, including 124 on the ground, through an 0-3 start. But in the five weeks since, the Cougars have found their stride, averaging 416 total yards and 272 yards rushing during a 4-1 stretch that’s seen them even their record at 4-4 overall.
That success, as is always the case in football, has started at the line of scrimmage.
LAST WEEK: 33-7, .825
SEASON TOTAL: 285-71, .801
In a week that features four or perhaps five games that could easily qualify for our Big Country Preps Game of the Week, there is alas, a safe choice.
When in doubt, one can seldom go wrong with the annual Stephenville-Brownwood clash — a storied feud now in its 80th chapter dating back to 1937.
This year, the Lions (4-2, 1-0) play host to the Yellow Jackets (4-3, 1-1) in a game that will likely decide the No. 2 seed in District 5-4A Division I — perhaps the best overall 4A league in Texas.
It’s no secret that Wylie’s first season in Class 5A has been a struggle.
The Bulldogs are 0-7 for the first time since 1982 and have been outscored 299-106, including a 98-29 margin through their first two district games.
But if you think this Wylie team’s will has been broken, longtime coach Hugh Sandifer would tell you otherwise.
Yes, his team has struggled. And yes, it enters Friday’s game at Canyon Randall with dimming playoff hopes. But this team hasn’t and won’t quit, Sandifer said, and it’s working as hard as ever to turn things around.
Having spent his high school years playing for a pair of coaching legends at Brownwood, Sammy Burnett’s professional dream was always to return to his alma mater as the head football coach.
Burnett, who realized that dream when he was announced as the Lions coach in February, took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about “the Brownwood way,” how he was influenced by coaches Gordon Wood and Randy Allen and what he wants to build at his alma mater in this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.
Also on this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the top developments from Week 8 and where it leaves the Big Country’s football teams with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
DUBLIN — For programs without much of a history, a sudden wave of success can be an extraordinary experience for players, fans and coaches.
But there is one potential problem that can come with winning: learning how to handle it.
At Class 3A Dublin, there are few people who can explain to the 7-0 Lions how to deal with being the talk of the town, or for that matter, the talk of the entire Big Country.
The last time Dublin posted a 7-0 record (1964), The Beatles were on top of the charts, Lyndon B. Johnson was the president of the United States and most of the parents of DHS’ current players hadn’t even been born yet.
Last week was the final week of nondistrict play for most six-man teams, but some squads already got started on games that count.
On top of that, there were 18 games in Class 1A that ended in shutouts last week with Knox City and Westbrook being the two Big Country teams that contributed to the total.