Author: Evan Ren

GAME REPORT: Brock uses rally for the ages to erase huge deficit and eliminate Bushland

VERNON — With 7:39 remaining in the second quarter of Friday’s Region I-3A DI semifinal between Brock and Bushland, the outcome for the Eagles was looking bleak. 

Bushland was not only leading, it was dominating Brock 27-7, courtesy of two TD passes and a scoring run from Falcon quarterback Dawson Jaco. 

What nobody knew, however, was that Bushland had scored its final point. And Brock, like the waters of a tsunami receding prior to impact, was about to unleash something unbelievable.

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GAME STORY: Wall uses ground game, powerful defensive effort to crush Idalou

SWEETWATER — While some may have complained about the cold, rainy weather for Friday’s Region I-3A DII semifinal at the Mustang Bowl, the Wall Hawks had the tools to overcome it. 

Using a combination of 331 team rushing yards and a crushing defense, the Hawks (11-1) blew open a 10-0 game with three third-quarter touchdowns and eliminated Idalou 30-0. 

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FEATURE: Wall’s balanced, unheralded defense dominant through a committee approach

WALL — If one examines the statistics of the area’s top high school defenses at this time of year, it is quite common to find at least one or two “stud” tacklers — usually a nasty linebacker with 100 or more stops. 

 But at Wall, the home of one of the best defenses in Big Country this season, a statistical anomaly is currently taking place. Nobody on WHS’ 2022 roster has more than 66 tackles through 11 played games (plus one forfeit) — a genuine oddity considering how dominant the Hawks have been on that side of the ball.  

Instead, Wall is tackling by committee out of its 4-2-5 scheme and doing it quite well, with nine players charting between 43 and 66 stops. 

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FEATURE: Loss of O’Shields a major challenge for Hawley, but there is a glimmer of hope

HAWLEY — It wasn’t exactly the ‘shot heard round the world’, but in Hawley it certainly created a noticeable tremor. 

The loss of do-everything receiver-defensive back-kicker Kason O’Shields had a far-reaching impact on the Hawley roster the moment it occurred on Oct. 29.  

O’Shields, who suffered a broken right fibula early in the second half at Stamford, had made himself so valuable in so many different ways, that his loss was the equivalent of losing six players rather than one. 

“He was our kicker, punter, kicker returner, punt returner and played offense and defense,” Hawley coach Mitch Ables said. “I don’t know how much more you could have a kid do for you, but he was a do-all for us for sure.” 

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BCP PLAYOFF FORECAST: Area football could see as many as 10 survivors in December

LAST WEEK: 21-4, .840
SEASON TOTAL: 518-119, .813

Week 14 is upon us and we still have 13 teams from the Big Country Preps coverage area with a pulse.

And unless my pick percentage suffers a sudden crash, it’s my opinion that no fewer than 10 of our area teams will survive to play into December.

We shall see.

Here’s this week’s playoff forecast: 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wylie QB Long leads another thrilling comeback to claim award

With the Wylie football team’s season on the line, facing a 40-30 deficit with less than six minutes remaining, the Bulldogs needed an epic comeback to rally past Colleyville Heritage on Friday at Grapevine’s Mustang-Panther Stadium.

Fortunately for coach Clay Martin’s squad, their senior quarterback has made a habit of leading those this year.

After throwing just his sixth interception on a fourth-down play midway through the final quarter, KJ Long was given new life when his defense forced and recovered a quick fumble. He made the most of it by leading a pair of quick scoring drives — the last to put the Bulldogs 43-40 with three seconds left on the clock — to fuel his team to a wild 50-40 area-round win and earn this week’s Big Country Preps Player of the Week award.

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CLASS 2A/3A AREA ROUND REPORT: Cisco, Hawley, Wall, Brock, Albany advance; Jim Ned, Coleman, Early, Comanche, Santo fall

REGION I-3A DIV. I 

Bushland 28, Jim Ned 10 — Dawson Jaco threw for 217 yards and four TD passes and Baylor King caught four passes for 89 yards and two scores to lift Bushland over Jim Ned. 

The Indians led twice in the first half — 3-0 on a 19-yard field goal by Breydon Walker in the first quarter and 10-7 after a 55-yard run by Troy Doran in the second. 

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GAME STORY: Brownwood eliminates Canyon in windy, cold, wet area final

MIDLAND — With sub-freezing temperatures, a strong wind and a misty rain falling, conditions for Friday’s Region I-4A area round game between Brownwood and Canyon didn’t promise much for the highlight reel. 

By the end of the evening, however, Brownwood had combined a handful of big offensive plays with a smothering defensive effort to eliminate injury-plagued Canyon 31-10. 

Konlyn Anderson rushed for 113 yards and two scores and Ike Hall rushed for 102 more and two more TDs to lead Brownwood (10-2), which advances to face Wichita Falls High at 7 p.m. on Friday at Abilene Christian University. 

Canyon, which was forced into using multiple reserve quarterbacks in a variety of rolls due to injuries to its top two signal callers, finished the season at 10-2. The Eagles were led by Noah Sanchez, who threw for 119 yards and one score. 

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GAME STORY: Brock uses five straight first-half scores to corral Mules before halftime

SWEETWATER — What had the appearance of a shootout early on turned into a rout on Thursday night as Brock overpowered Muleshoe in a Class 3A DI area round game at the Mustang Bowl. 

Carson Finney caught two touchdown passes and intercepted three others and Brett Tutter rushed for 153 yards and three scores to lead Brock (8-4), which won its eighth straight game after an 0-4 start. 

With both clubs trading two early touchdowns apiece in the first nine minutes of play and Brock clinging to a 15-13 lead, the Eagles blew the game open with 35 unanswered points and were never threatened beyond that point.  The Eagles now advance to face the winner of Bushland (11-0) and Jim Ned (8-3) in the Region I-3A quarterfinals. 

Muleshoe (8-4) was led by Nathan Martens, who threw for 132 yards and two scores. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYOFF FORECAST: Several big matchups dot the area landscape

LAST WEEK: 34-6, .850
SEASON TOTAL: 497-115, .812

There’s always a certain sadness to the playoffs. 

The finality of it all can be difficult to cope with after covering a group of teams for three straight months.  And unless I’ve missed my guess, this week’s area round may be particularly painful for the Big Country. 

If I’m correct, our coverage area will say goodbye to no fewer than 14 of our remaining 26 teams, leaving a dozen with a shot at still reaching Arlington. And from there, it only gets more difficult.  

That also holds true for accurately picking winners. The column hit at 85 percent accuracy last week, but from this point forward, history has shown that hitting that number late in the postseason is extremely difficult.  So perhaps the area will have a few extra survivors. 

I’ll see you on the road. Here’s this week’s forecast: 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Comanche QB snags this week’s accolade

With standout running back Sawyer Wilkerson getting much of the media attention in 2022, the Comanche Indians have been receiving efficient, under-publicized play from the quarterback spot through much of a 10-1 record. 

Last week was perhaps the best example of that, with junior signal caller Layden Welch torching Henrietta with an 11 of 16 passing performance for 248 yards and five TDs in a 69-27 win. 

But that’s just the beginning. 

Welch also rushed 11 times for 65 yards and two scores. He gathered five solo tackles, four assisted stops, forced a fumble and deflected a pass to help CHS advance to the area round. 

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CLASS 4A/5A BI-DISTRICT REPORT: Big Country teams combine to go 6-1 in strong opening-round showing

REGION I-4A DIV. I

Big Spring 38, El Paso Riverside 35 — The Steers pulled out and absolute thriller over the District 1-4A DI champion Rangers, scoring the winning points on a wild fourth-and-10 play with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game.

Quarterback Gavin Padron, who passed for 230 yards and three touchdowns, evaded multiple sack attempts with some creative scrambling in the backfield before heaving it up running Kavien Ford in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown hookup. That ended a back-and-forth that saw three lead changes in the final 15 minutes.

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CLASS 2A BI-DISTRICT REPORT: Cisco, Forsan, Hawley, Bangs, Coleman, Albany, Santo all advance to area round

REGION I-2A DIV. I 

Cisco 55, Reagan County 0 — The Loboes dominated Reagan County, rolling up 555 yards in total offense, of which 378 were on the round. 

Hunter Long and Trent Huston combined for 263 yards rushing and four touchdowns to lead Cisco (9-2), which led 42-0 at the break.

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CLASS 3A BI-DISTRICT REPORT: Jim Ned wins eighth straight; Brock, Early Comanche, Wall advance to area round

REGION I-3A DIV. I 

Jim Ned 41, Pilot Point 0 — Troy Doran rushed for 174 yards and two scores to lead Jim Ned to an easy first round win over Pilot Point. 

The Indians rolled up 479 yards in total offense en route to the win, overcoming a 3-1 turnover disparity in the process.  Leading 14-0 at the break, Jim Ned blew the game open with 27 unanswered points in the second half. 

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GAME STORY: Forsan survives wild finish to eliminate Stamford, 21-14

BROWNWOOD — Not until the game’s final minute did the Stamford Bulldogs have the lead in Friday’s 2A DI bi-district game with Forsan at Gordon Wood Stadium. 

It lasted for a grand total of 16 seconds. 

Trailing 14-13 with under a minute to play, Forsan got the last word with a 63-yard touchdown strike from Cade Wallis to Brooks Wright and a subsequent two-point conversion run by Kevin Kilgora with 0:37 showing on the clock. The Buffaloes (9-2) then held on for a 21-14 win, advancing to face New Deal next Thursday in the area round.

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GAME STORY: Wink eliminates Cross Plains 60-0 in Big Spring

BIG SPRING — The 2022 football season didn’t start or finish the way the Cross Plains Buffaloes had hoped it would. 

A season filled with promise was struck by tragedy when standout running back Ryan Hopkins died in a preseason auto accident. In his absence, the Buffaloes gradually battled their way to a Class 2A Division II playoff spot in Big Spring, where Thursday they fell as a No. 4 seed in the bi-district round to a powerhouse Wink team, 60-0 at Memorial Stadium. 

Cannon Gibson threw for 231 yards, rushed for 115 and accounted for five touchdowns to lift Wink (11-0), which will face either Santo or Seymour in the area round. The Wildcats led Cross Plains 54-0 at the break, after which both clubs agreed on playing the second half with a running clock.

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2022 BIG COUNTRY PREPS BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: The area’s top teams in each class throughout the BCP coverage area

With a new season of boys high school basketball poised to begin, it’s time to take a look at what the Big Country will produce on the court.

Below you will find our top teams in each classification in the Big Country Preps coverage area, from Big Spring in the West, to Brock in the east and from Brady in the south to Munday in the north. 

Our rankings of the top teams in each class are given, along with a season outlook, cataloguing our expectations for each club. 

Here’s our preview. We’ll see you on the road.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYOFF FORECAST: Top matchups (w/Evan Ren’s Big Country Playoff picks)

LAST WEEK: 42-4, .913
SEASON TOTAL: 463-109, .809

It has been my tradition since I arrived in the Big Country way back in 2006 to suspend the Game of the Week at the conclusion of the regular season. From this point forward, they’re all the Game of the Week and Big Country Preps will be scrambling to get to as many postseason games involving our teams as possible. 

In the meantime, the column hit at more than 90-percent accuracy last week — the best week of picks I’ve had in 2022. So perhaps I’m peaking at the right time and can carry that momentum into postseason. 

We shall see. 

Here’s this week’s playoff forecast: 

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DISTRICT 10-2A DIV. II WEEK 11 REPORT: Dawson takes No. 2 seed, Meridian snaps losing streak, Mart finishes unbeaten

Wortham 48, Dawson 40 — In a battle for the District’s No. 2 seed, Wortham rallied from an early deficit to defeat Dawson. 

Tanner Bean scored on a 7-yard run with 16 seconds to play to lift Wortham, which will face the No. 2 seed from District 9 in the bi-district round.

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DISTRICT 7-2A DIV. II WEEK 11 REPORT: Munday falls in finale to Archer City; Windthorst, Seymour both pick up wins

Archer City 41, Munday 27 — Joe Castles threw for 190 yards and one score and Elijah Jackson rushed for 143 yards and two more TDs as Archer City defeated Munday. 

Munday was led by Chris Garcia who threw for 166 yards, rushed for 180 and accounted for three TDs. 

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DISTRICT 4-2A DIV. I WEEK 11 REPORT: Stamford, Olney, Hawley close regular season with wins

Stamford 45, Colorado City 0 — The SHS defense limited Colorado City to only 133 yards in total offense as the Bulldogs solidified their hold on the No. 3 seed.

Stamford finished with 398 yards in total offense, including 281 yards on the ground through seven different ball carriers.

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DISTRICT 4-3A DIV. II WEEK 11 REPORT: Idalou, Roosevelt, Abernathy end regular season with wins

Idalou 56, Santon 34 — Idalou rolled up 480 yards in total offense in an easy win over Stanton. 

Tate Hendley threw for 140 yards, rushed for 89 and accounted for five TDs to lead the Wildcats (7-3, 4-1), who go into postseason as a No. 2 seed. 

They will face District 3 No. 3 seed Friona in the Bi-district round. 

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DISTRICT 3-3A DIV. I WEEK 11 REPORT: Breck earns No. 2 seed; Jim Ned clinches title, Vernon earns playoff spot

Breckenridge 50, Clyde 20 — The Buckaroos  used a balanced attack of 226 yards passing and 234 yards rushing close the regular season with a win. 

Breckenridge led 28-6 at the break and 39-6 heading into the final stanza before coasting to the finish line. 

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DISTRICT 5-4A DIV. I WEEK 11 REPORT: Yellow Jackets earn No. 2 seed with win over La Vega, Alvarado routs Waxahachie Life

Stephenville 42, Waco La Vega 28 — Tate Maruska rushed for 231 yards and three scores on 26 carries to lift Stephenville to an important district win over La Vega. 

Ryder Lambert led Stephenville through the air, hitting 12 of 19 throws for 158 yards and three touchdowns. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Hawley rallies to take district title in dazzling win over Cisco

cHAWLEY — It took a full 47 minutes and 57 seconds for the Hawley Bearcats to take their first lead in Friday’s Big Country Preps Game of the Week.  They only had to defend it for three seconds before claiming a 36-33 win over visiting Cisco, along with the District 4-2A DI title. 

Will Scott caught seven Rodey Hooper passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns to lead Hawley (10-0, 6-0), which trailed 19-8 at the half and 33-22 with 9:21 to play before rallying for the win. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Cisco, Hawley clash in long-awaited season finale for district championship (w/Evan Ren’s Big Country picks)

LAST WEEK: 42-11, .792
SEASON TOTAL: 421-105, .800

It never ceases to amaze me how fast the regular season passes by in high school football. And here we are again — Week 11, Halloween behind us and Turkey Day right around the corner. 

Heading into this final week, the column is barely clinging to an .800 percentage, which unless it gets better, is one of the worst pick years I’ve had in the last decade. 

However, this is ample time to close with a flurry, given that the second season (the Texas high postseason) gets underway next week. 

Let’s dive in.

Here’s this week’s forecast. 

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2022 BIG COUNTRY PREPS GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: The area’s top teams in each class throughout the BCP coverage area

I can scarcely believe it, but it’s that time again —time to gear up for a new season of girls high school basketball which is getting underway throughout Texas this week. 

Below, you will find our top teams in each classification in the Big Country Preps coverage area, which extends from Big Spring in the West, to Brock in the east. And from Brady in the south to Munday in the north. 

Our rankings of the top teams in each class are given, along with a season outlook, cataloguing our expectations for each club. So by all means, dive in and join us for the upcoming season.

Here’s our preview. We’ll see you on the road.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Brock junior takes the award with one big half of play

Every now and then, two quarters of playing time is enough to have a enormous impact. That was the case several times last week in a Friday night filled with lopsided finals throughout the area.

Topping that list: Our BCP Player of the Week, junior running back Brett Tutter, who helped lead Brock to a 77-27 win over Ponder. 

Tutter got only 16 carries in two quarters of play, but finished with an eye-popping 318 yards and five touchdowns as Brock (5-4, 4-0 District 4-3A DI) earned its fifth straight win after an 0-4 start. 

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DISTRICT 7-2A DIV. II WEEK 10 REPORT: Haskell clinches playoff spot; Seymour, Archer City post wins to remain in title contention

Haskell 49, Electra 6 — Marquise Johnson rushed for 110 yards and three scores and Montrel Johnson rushed for 64 yards and two more TDs to lead Haskell to a win on the road. 

The Indians (5-5, 3-3) had one of the best defensive performances of the year, limiting Electra to only 127 yards in total offense to lock up a playoff berth. 

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DISTRICT 6-2A DIV. II WEEK 10 REPORT: Albany, Cross Plains, Miles secure Week 10 victories

Albany 55, Hamlin 6 — Coy Lefevre rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns and Adam Hill rushed for 95 yards and three scores to lead Albany past area rival Hamlin.

The Lions quickly built a 41-0 halftime lead before putting things into cruise control. It was the fourth straight win for the Lions since an injury-plagued 3-2 start and clinched the district title.

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DISTRICT 4-3A DIV. II WEEK 10 REPORT: Bulldogs remain in title contention; Idalou and Abernathy both post wins

Coahoma 27, Lubbock Roosevelt 26 — The Bulldogs survived what might be the most evenly matched game we’ve seen in the area this season. 

Not only did Coahoma win by a point, but outgained Roosvelt by a single yard, 366-365.  The turnovers broke even as well, with both clubs forcing one apiece. 

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DISTRICT 2-3A DIV. II WEEK 10 REPORT: Hawks take sole possession of first place with win over Early; Brady escapes Grape Creek

Wall 10, Early 7 — Gunnar Dillard rushed for 167 yards and on 32 carries and Nathan Pepper rushed for 88 yards and one TD to lead Wall to a difficult win over Early. 

The Hawks (8-1, 4-0) now has sole possession of first place with the win, but must defeat Brady (5-4, 3-1) next week to lock up the district title. 

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DISTRICT 5-4A DIV. I WEEK 10 REPORT: Yellow Jackets fall to Alvarado in stunning upset; China Spring tops Waxahachie Life

Alvarado 50, Stephenville 49 — AHS amassed 566 yards in total offense to overcome a 21-point deficit and pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year.

Trailing 49-28 in the fourth quarter at Dublin ISD Stadium, the Indians rallied with 22 unanswered points to defeat the defending state champs.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Indians top Vernon 28-7 behind two goal line stands and 221 rushing yards from Shipman

TUSCOLA — The Jim Ned Indians and Vernon Lions entered the Big Country Preps Game of the Week with two of the better rushing offenses in the area, along with two of the better rushing defenses. 

Friday night, however, the Indians clearly outperformed Vernon in both areas, dominating the trenches in a 28-7 win in Tuscola. 

Brayden Shipman rushed for 221 yards and two scores and the Indian defense came up with two crucial goal-line stands to lift the Indians (6-3, 4-0 District 3-3A DI), who can clinch the league title if they defeat Iowa Park on the road next Friday. It was the sixth straight win for Jim Ned following an injury-plagued 0-3 start.

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Jim Ned hosts Vernon in critical District 3-3A game (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 46-6, .880
SEASON TOTAL: 379-94, .801

As a season progresses, certain games that at first, look commonplace, suddenly emerge as high-stakes showdowns. 

Early in the season with Jim Ned battling through a rash of injuries and Vernon still short on respect, a late October meeting of these two teams wasn’t on the radar screen. 

That, however, has quickly changed in the wake of a 3-0 league start for the Indians and a surprising 28-21 upset of formerly unbeaten Breckenridge by Vernon two weeks ago. 

Jim Ned is now looking at a possible district title if it can beat Vernon and if Clyde can knock off Iowa Park. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Zephyr running back brings home Player of the Week honors

With some people projecting Zephr as an underdog in last week’s game with Sidney, very few people were expecting ZHS to provide us with the Big Country Preps Player of the Week.

Nonetheless, here we are.

Zephyr senior running back Jayden Millican takes the spotlight after rushing for 285 yards and six touchdowns in a 68-20 win over over Sidney. But he wasn’t finished there.

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