VIDEO PODCAST NO. 13: Evan Ren returns and speaks with Dan Youngblood about his ongoing battle with COVID. All-Big Country Preps team discussed.
The Cisco Loboes may have only played one game last week (beating Hamlin 76-41). But senior guard Layne Edgar made the most of it.
Scoring 39 points with a 5-of-9 tally from 3-point range, he narrowly missed a monstrous triple-double, finishing with nine rebounds and eight assists.
In his spare time, he collected six steals in a truly dominating performance worthy of our Big Country Preps Player of the Week award for the Week ending Jan. 16.
Most of us know a football player who lives in the weight room, who’s always dependable and who always does what his coaches ask him. He always puts the team first. He’s early to arrive and late to leave. And he seldom needs direction because he always pays attention.
You know the type. But you seldom hear about them, since there is no specific category to put them in and the media doesn’t recognize these qualities.
This is the guy who always sets a good example. He doesn’t complain and above all else, is tough mentally and physically. He’s not necessarily the best player on his team (though some are). But he’s definitely the guy who gets the most out of whatever talent he was born with.
Welcome to the 2020 “True Grit” team — the one place in the Big Country where guys who fall into this category are recognized for it.
He’s been consistently pouring in points since the season’s outset. So it’s not a surprise that Dublin senior guard Daniel Escobar has taken our first Big Country Preps Player of the Week award for 2021.
Helping the Lions to wins over Eastland (69-42) and Millsap (79-43), Escobar finished the week with a total of 63 points through the two games, including a 38-point night in the Eastland win.
But scoring was only a portion of his overall contribution.
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EASTLAND —Seeing their final action before the holiday break, the Brock boys and girls varsity basketball teams will enter Christmas on a high note, having completed a doubleheader sweep of Eastland on Tuesday at Marshall Gym.
The girls opened the afternoon twin bill with 48-28 victory, after which the Brock boys capped the day with a 72-22 win in the district 8-3A opener for both teams.
Claire Lewis scored 14 points and Abbi Mathis added 11 more to pace the Lady Eagles (5-6, 2-1), who blew the game open with an 11-0 run to start the second half.
ARLINGTON — Almost every high school football team has a weakness. Even championship clubs generally have something we can point to and say, “Here’s how you beat them.”
You could not do that with the 2020 Jim Ned Indians.
That fact alone will make them one of the most memorable teams I’ve covered in all my years in the Big Country. Though Thursday’s 29-28 overtime win over Hallettsville to take the Class 3A Division I state title will be difficult to forget by itself.
The Indians, without a highly rated DI recruiting prospect to carry the load, used a balance of talent, toughness, effort and heart to create a team that was literally very good at everything it did.
Because of its complexity, it’s easy to adopt a form of tunnel vision while watching football.
The vast majority of us simply watch the ball. We don’t notice the blocking up front. We don’t notice the quality of the tackling. We don’t notice if people are hustling or loafing away from the play. And we certainly don’t notice special teams (unless it’s bad).
This is unfortunate, especially in the case of teams that achieve special things by doing all the little things right. Teams like the Jim Ned Indians — a collection of unsung heroes who have almost turned being underappreciated into an art form.
Ask your typical fans about a game they saw from the Jim Ned skill personnel and they’ll be able to recite it as though it were straight off the stat sheet. But ask them about all of the little things the Indians have done to advance to tonight’s Class 3A DI state championship game with Hallettsville and that’s where things begin to get fuzzy.
And nowhere are the Indians more underappreciated than in the special teams department, without which (quite frankly) they would not have made it all the way to Arlington.
LAST WEEK: 3-2, .600
SEASON TOTAL: 435-95, .821
With May’s loss to Sterling City in the Class 1A DI title game on Wednesday (a game we made our picks for last week), there are but two Big Country teams still playing football in 2020 — the Jim Ned Indians and the Abilene Eagles.
Jim Ned will square off with Hallettsville on Thursday evening in Arlington in the Class 3A DI state title game. Abilene High will go against North Crowley in the Class 6A DII area round.
It’s always nice to see some of our area clubs still playing in December. But in the delay-hampered season that we’ve seen this year, it’s a blessing to see anyone suiting up at this point.
I’ll see you on the road. Here’s a look at this week’s games:
VIDEO PODCAST NO. 12: Evan Ren and Dan Youngblood speak about last week’s playoff action, and this week’s state title games
Top games of this week discussed: May vs. Sterling City, Jim Ned vs. Mt. Vernon, Abilene vs. North Crowley
Top games of last week discussed: Jim Ned vs. Mount Vernon, Cooper vs. Mansfield Summit, Abilene vs. El Paso Eastwood, Wylie vs. Grapevine.
Facing an explosive El Paso Eastwood offense in the opening round of the Region I-6A Division II playoffs, the Abilene High Eagles knew they’d need to move the ball and score if they hoped to earn their first postseason win since 2016.
That’s where junior quarterback Abel Ramirez and senior running back Phonzo Dotson came in.
Taking turns leading an AHS offensive explosion, this duo helped the Eagles rack up 569 yards of total offense in a 42-35 win over the Troopers. And in the process, the pair has earned the Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week award for the week ending Dec. 12.
ARLINGTON — The Jim Ned Indians put things into low gear in Friday’s Class 3A DI state semfinal with Mount Vernon.
In fact, they slowed things to a crawl — chewing up much of the clock and keeping Art Briles’ high-powered spread offense off the field in a 24-17 win at Globe Life Park.
Xavier Wishert rushed for 171 yards and two scores and Caden Martin came up with a game-clinching interception in the game’s final seconds to lead Jim Ned (13-1) which will face Hallettsville (13-2) in the state championship game on Thurs., Dec. 17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington at 7 p.m.
TUSCOLA — If you’re a Big Country high school football fan, you’ve likely heard of Jim Ned star running back Xavier Wishert. You’ve likely heard of Jim Ned quarterback Tate Yardley and the extraordinary defense the Indians have been playing.
You may have even heard of the outstanding special teams play going on in Tuscola.
But sitting outside of the spotlight the entire time has been a largely unsung, but no less extraordinary offensive line, without which Jim Ned’s run to the Class 3A Division I state semifinals could not have happened.
Beyond that, the unit has helped Jim Ned sculpt an entirely new football culture — from that of a finesse-style team years ago to one that currently bulldozes its way to wins.
The Indians (12-1) will square off with Mount Vernon (12-2) on Friday at Arlington’s Globe Life Park with a trip to the state championship game going to the winner.
LAST WEEK: 3-2, .600
SEASON TOTAL: 432-93, .823
With two small-school area teams — Jim Ned and May — now joined in the postseason party by locals Abilene High, Cooper and Wylie (in the 6A-5A bi-district rounds), the Big Country still has five football teams still afloat heading into this week.
It should be noted that May, having already qualified for the 1A DI (six-man) state title game, won’t play again until next week’s championship matchup with Sterling City.
The rest will see action Friday and Saturday in venues scattered all over Texas, from the Metroplex to Fort Stockton.
Let’s dive in and have a look at all the matchups.
I’ll see you on the road.
VIDEO PODCAST NO. 11: Abilene coach Mike Fullen joins the show. Evan Ren and Dan Youngblood give the most complete look at the Big Country Playoff picture available from any media source in the Big Country.
Top games of this week discussed: May vs. Sterling City, Jim Ned vs. Mt. Vernon
Top games of last week discussed: Jim Ned vs. Pilot Point, Eastland vs. Gunter, Cisco vs. Post, Strawn vs. Richland Springs, May vs. Blum.
He’s been one of the most consistent offensive weapons in the Big Country throughout the 2020 season.
So it probably comes as no surprise that Jim Ned running back Xavier Wishert has taken our Capital Farm Credit-Big Country Preps Player of the Week award for the Week ending Dec. 5. But he did it in extraordinary fashion — chalking up five touchdowns in a 45-28 win over Pilot Point in Friday’s Region I-3A DI championship game in Stephenville.
Rushing 32 times, Wishert piled up 271 yards and four scores from the Jim Ned backfield. This, combined with an 83-yard kickoff return and eight tackles from his linebacker spot and the junior was the hands-down choice for the award.