Author: Evan Ren

BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Roscoe travels to Ralls for crucial district game (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 40-7, .851
SEASON TOTAL: 287-63, .820

Week 8? Are you kidding?

I ask the same question, or some variant of it virtually every year. We just finished with two-a-days. How can we possibly be this deep in the season so quickly?

Yet hear we are. A cold weather snap approaching. Thanksgiving right around the corner —as are the playoffs.

This week’s Game of the Week will see me traveling north to Ralls where the surprising Roscoe Plowboys, off to their best start in years, will be in a showdown for the district lead.

The column hit at 85 percent accuracy last week and is now up to 82 percent on the year. So we’ll see if we can keep the momentum going through the home stretch.

Let’s have a look at this week’s picks: 

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FEATURE: Jim Ned Cross Country team aiming for return to state meet

Photos by Julie Guffey 

TUSCOLA — A year ago, a young Jim Ned boys cross country team was thrilled to simply qualify for the state meet with a second-place regional finish. The Indians’ subsequent sixth-place finish at state was viewed as icing on top of the greatest season the program had ever known. 

A year later, however, things have changed. 

The 2021 Indians are not only aiming for a second straight trip to Round Rock, but this time around, the goal is to return home with some hardware around their necks. 

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Big Country Volleyball Statistical Leaders (through Oct. 12)

Big Country Preps is publishing area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

We will continually update the database throughout the regular season.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Young takes spotlight with monstrous effort

Who says defensive players can’t be the Player of the Week?

That’s certainly not true at Big Country Preps, where our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week helped push Stephenville to a stunning 35-7 rout of perennial power Waco La Vega on Friday night.

Senior linebacker Reese Young takes our weekly accolade after charting an almost unbelievable 25 tackles to lead an SHS defensive effort that saw the Yellow Jackets hold La Vega to just 94 yards rushing on 44 carries.

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FEATURE: German exchange student joins Raiders during unusual season

Photos courtesy by Roger Niehaus of the Lueders-Avoca Raiders Sports Facebook page.

Having a German exchange student join the football team hasn’t been the most unusual occurrence for the Lueders-Avoca Raiders this season.

After all, the six-man Raiders have had exchange students from Germany serve as the team kicker in 2018 and 2019. This season German exchange student Jasper Humphert is kicking, playing special teams, and filling in on offense and defense when the Raiders’ seven other healthy players need a breather.

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District 5-3A Div. II Week 7 Report: Eastland takes early district lead with win over Millsap

Eastland 48, Millsap 27 — Keaton Hicks and Cooper Wright combined for 218 yards passing and three touchdowns as Eastland started district play with a key win. 

Hicks and Wright also rushed for a combined 140 yards and two TDs, joined by Judson Beard, who rushed for 74 yards and two more scores. 

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District 2-3A DII Week 7 Report: Brady hands Ballinger stunning loss on the road

Brady 54, Ballinger 41 — JD Ibarra rushed for 217 yards and five scores to help the Brady Bulldogs to a district-opening stunner in Ballinger.

Brady (3-2, 1-0) pounded out 378 rushing yards as a team and never scored fewer than two touchdowns in a quarter while handing the Bearcats what many consider to be an upset loss.

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District 3-3A Div. I Week 7 Report: Bucks hold off Clyde to win important district opener on the road

Breckenridge 44, Clyde 29 — Jerry Lawson rushed for 106 yards and four TDs and Anson Rodgers rushed for 143 yards and two more scores to lift Breckenridge to a tough road win in the district opener for both clubs. 

Breckenridge never trailed, but never managed to completely shake Clyde, which rallied from a 32-14 deficit with two straight third quarter TDs to cut the gap to 32-29.  

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District 4-2A Div. I Week 7 Report: Eagles slip past archrival Armadillos in league opener

Goldthwaite 28, San Saba 26 — Jackson Patrick rushed for 216 yards and a score to lead Goldthwaite to a win over its archrival in the district opener for both clubs. 

Seth Gardner added two rushing touchdowns to help the Eagles (3-3, 1-0), who led 28-14 in the third quarter before surviving a San Saba rally. 

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District 3-2A Div. I Week 7 Report: Forsan improves to 6-0 with win at C-City

Forsan 27, Colorado City 7 — Major Stockton threw for 68 yards and a score and rushed for 70 yards and another touchdown to lead Forsan to a win in the district opener for both clubs. 

With the score knotted at 7 at halftime, Forsan gained the upper hand with 20 unanswered points in the second half. 

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District 4-3A Div. II Week 7 Report: Coahoma falls to perennial power Idalou

Idalou 62, Coahoma 24 — The Wildcats piled up 569 yards in total offense, including 384 yards rushing to hand Coahoma a loss in the district opener for both clubs.

Chase Hill rushed for 71 yards and three scores and William Wall threw for 185 yards and another score to lead Idalou (6-0, 1-0), which led 34-17 at the break and 48-24 at the end of three quarters.

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Jim Ned dominates Early, hands EHS first loss of 2021

TUSCOLA — For the upstart Early Longhorns to have any shot at upsetting defending Class 3A DI state champion Jim Ned, they absolutely had to do two things: quickly seize the momentum and win the turnover battle. 

Neither objective was met. On the contrary, it was Jim Ned which started strongly and closed with a 3-1 turnover ratio in a 48-7 win in the Big Country Preps Game of the Week. 

Xavier Wishert rushed for 215 yards and four scores on only 16 carries to lift Jim Ned (6-0, 1-0 District 3-3A DI) to a lopsided win in the district opener for both clubs.

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FEATURE: Roscoe’s rapidly improving QB one of the keys to this year’s Plowboy turnaround

ROSCOE — After laboring through a combined 5-25 record over the last three seasons, the surprising Roscoe Plowboys have already won that many games in 2021 — off to their first 5-1 start since 2007. 

What some may not realize, is that directing a talented Roscoe offense, is a little-known sophomore quarterback, whose rapid improvement is one of the keys to the turnaround. 

Jax Watts (70-of-113, 916 yards, seven TDs), who is currently sitting ninth among the Big Country’s leading passers, is a man who Big Country football fans are likely to hear more and more about over the next two years. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF WEEK: Unbeaten Early, Jim Ned clash in huge district opener (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 39-4, .906
SEASON TOTAL: 247-56, .815

Gramps Ren is back in the groove, hitting over 90 percent of his picks a week ago, to push this column’s season percentage to .815 as we head into district play across the area.

Whether or not I can keep the momentum remains to be seen, entering what might be the toughest week of area picks I’ve seen this year, with multiple games that I would rate as near-tossups.

This week’s Big Country Preps Game of the Week will see us heading to Tuscola where Jim Ned will begin its District 3-3A DI title defense against a red-hot, unbeaten team from Early.

Let’s have a look at this week’s picks …

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Big Country Volleyball Statistical Leaders (through Oct. 5)

Big Country Preps is publishing area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

We will continually update the database throughout the regular season.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sweetwater QB Holsey takes the spotlight

A quick look at the box score from Sweetwater’s 70-54 win over Eastland and one just knew that the Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week was located somewhere in that massive pile of numbers. 

SHS quarterback Leo Holsey emerged as the top man, hitting 17 of 19 throws for 434 yards and six touchdowns.

Add his 101 yards rushing on 15 carries with three more scores and the choice was made easy — even on a night with 1,277 yards in combined total offense between the two teams. 

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District 5-3A Div. II Week 6 Report: Mavericks fall in shootout in the Mustang Bowl

Sweetwater 70, Eastland 54 — With most of the district enjoying a bye week, the Eastland Mavericks found themselves involved In one of the most explosive games the area has seen in the last five years, Sweetwater outlasted EHS in a slugfest at the Mustang Bowl, that believe it or not, ended at a surprisingly early 9 :50 p.m. 

Leo Holsey threw for 434 yards and six scores and rushed for three more TDs to lead Sweetwater, which levelled off at 3-3 with the win. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Big Spring holds off Littlefield rally

Gabriel Baeza

BIG SPRING — Their execution may not have been up to coach Cannon McWilliams’ standards. But at the end of the night, the Big Spring Steers were athletic enough to wrestle a 47-29 win away from Littlefield in the Big Country Preps Game of the Week.

Gabriel Baez threw for 319 yards, rushed for 167 and accounted for seven touchdowns to lead Big Spring (5-1) which led from the first quarter onward. 

Ethan Garcia topped the stat sheet for Littlefield (3-3) with 186 yards passing and 89 yards rushing. 

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FEATURE: Brock center Cade Harris contradicts every stereotype attached to offensive linemen

Action photos by Tommy Hays

We’ve all heard the tiresome stereotypes surrounding the big guys on a football field — most of which were disproven decades ago.

Offensive linemen are generally very smart out of necessity. They don’t spend most of their time chewing raw meat and watching MMA fights. They have a diverse set of interests and their talents extend well beyond simply knocking people on their keister.

We know all of this. Or at least, by this day and age, we should know it. But for those of us who don’t, Brock center Cade Harris stands as a living contradiction to all of the false perceptions. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Steers plays host to Littlefield, Gramps Ren rebounds (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 45-6, .882
SEASON TOTAL: 208-52, .800

After a disastrous night of picking football games on Sept. 19 that saw his season percentage dip below .800, Gramps Ren has rebounded. Thank you, thank you. 

Last Friday saw this column hit with more than 88 percent accuracy on games throughout the Big Country, pulling its season percentage to an even .800 as we hit the season’s midpoint. 

This week I’ll be heading west — way West — to the very edge of our coverage area to get a first-hand look at the Big Spring Steers in their matchup with Littlefield in our Big Country Preps Game of the Week. 

Let’s dive in to this week’s picks, shall we? 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT WEDNESDAY NIGHT PODCAST: Area’s top dogs at the midpoint?

—The area’s most improved teams at seasons midpoint? Early, Roscoe, Forsan, Big Spring, Coleman, Snyder, Dublin and Stephenville are among those mentioned.

—Teams with best shot at getting to Arlington? Albany, Cisco, Jim Ned, Brock, and Stephenville are among those discussed.

—Top quarterbacks, running backs and receivers get a shout as we prepare to jump into district play.


Big Country Volleyball Statistical Leaders (through Sept. 28)

Big Country Preps is publishing area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

We will continually update the database throughout the regular season.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Snyder’s Benitez takes the top spot

Defensive specialists seldom get the attention they deserve in volleyball. Not unlike offensive linemen in football, who do the dirty work behind the scenes that enables the glamour positions to shine. 

That isn’t the case at Big Country Preps, where we take pride in giving credit to those willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. 

Snyder libero Abby Benitez, perhaps the best defender in the entire Big Country, fits that mold and has captured our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week award for the week ending Sept. 25. 

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DISTRICT 2-3A Div. II Week 5 Report: Ballinger wins thriller in overtime over Llano

Ballinger 35, Llano 34, OT — Carter Arrott threw for 208 yards and two scores and Beau Perkins rushed for 117 yards to lift Ballinger to a thrilling OT win at home.

The Bearcats (3-1) trailed 3-0 after one quarter, 9-7 at the break and 15-13 after three quarters, but took a 28-21 lead with 3:33 to play after Arrott scored on a 1-yard run. 

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DISTRICT 3-2A Div. I Week 5 Report: Haskell shuts out Hamlin to end losing skid

Haskell 25, Hamlin 0 — Haskell limited Hamlin to just 47 yards in total offense to improve to 2-3 on the year. 

Anthony Martinez threw for 92 yards and two scores and Marquise Johnson rushed for 100 yards and one TD on 17 carries to lift the Indians, who snapped a three-game losing streak with the win. 

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DISTRICT 3-3A Div. I Week 5 Report: Early routs Grape Creek, concludes its non-district schedule at 5-0

Early 49, San Angelo Grape Creek 0 — Jaxyn Price threw for 222 yards and four TDs to keep Early (5-0) unbeaten at the season’s midpoint. 

Tre Beam rushed for 115 yards and a score and Cale Ozuna added a pair of rushing touchdowns to lead the Longhorns, who will face Jim Ned (5-0) in a District 3-3A DI showdown on Oct. 8. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Jim Ned rallies to foil Snyder upset bid

SNYDER — By night’s end Jim Ned’s 22-15 win at Snyder had become the game that both teams needed.

Defending Class 3A DI state champion Jim Ned needed another team besides Cisco to match them physically and push them into the fourth quarter. Upstart Snyder, after four straight routs over decidedly weaker teams, needed to solidify the fact that it is indeed, a good football team.  

Both got their wish at Tiger Stadium on Friday when the Indians rallied from a 15-7 second half deficit to hand Snyder its first loss of the year.  Xavier Wishert rushed for 200 yards and touchdown and Sergio Hernandez added a back-breaking pick-six in the fourth quarter to lead Jim Ned (5-0), which now heads into its bye week to prep for district play. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Jim Ned, Snyder clash in battle of unbeatens (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country picks)

LAST WEEK: 36-16, .692
OVERALL: 163-46, .779

After four straight weeks of picking 80 percent or better, the USS Ren ran aground last Friday, bottoming out with a season-low .692 percentage and dropping my season tally to .779.

I generally like to be above 80 percent by midseason, so last Friday served as a wakeup call. Actually, it was more of a gut punch. But I’ll get over it.

This week’s Big Country Preps Game of the Week will see me traveling to Snyder, where the unbeaten Class 4A Tigers will play host to 3A DI state champion Jim Ned in what should be an absolutely electric atmosphere. 

You all set? Let’s dive in to this week’s picks. 

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EVAN REN : Virdell’s Goldthwaite program beginning to take steps forward

GOLDTHWAITE — His Goldthwaite program battled through a lack of experience and depth after he inherited a 1-8 program in 2019.  It endured the COVID lockdown at the worst possible time for a rebuilding team and the lack of quality weight training it desperately needed. 

Through it all, coach Keith Virdell’s Eagles had a combined 5-16 record —not exactly earth-shattering for a program what was 10-3 as recently as 2015 and had won a state championship as recently as 2009.

What some forget, however, is that Virdell was virtually starting from scratch when he arrived at GHS from Sudan, where he had posted a 9-2 mark in his first and only season there. 

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Big Country Volleyball Statistical Leaders (through Sept. 21)

Big Country Preps is publishing area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

We will continually update the database throughout the regular season.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Stephenville QB takes the top spot

When you combine our two key factors in selecting our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week — quality of numbers and level of difficulty — nobody outperformed Stephenville quarterback Ryder Lambert last week in SHS’ 37-7 rout of Class 5A Abilene Wylie. 

Lambert connected on 22 of 28 throws for 458 yards and five scores to help push the Yellow Jackets to 4-0. 

Just four weeks in and the ‘Jackets are looking like they could win Texas’ most difficult 4A district (5-4A DI), despite having road dates with Waco La Vega and Midlothian Heritage. 

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District 3-2A Div. I Week 4 Report: Buffs stay unbeaten with big win over McCamey

Forsan 48, McCamey 27 — Forsan (4-0) rolled up 345 yards rushing and six TDs on the ground to hand McCamey (2-1) its first loss of the year. 

Major Stockton rushed for 217 yards and four scores and threw for 96 yards and another touchdown to lead the Buffaloes, who put McCamey away with two late scores in the fourth quarter. 

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District 4-3A Div. II Week 4 Report: Bulldogs put C-City to bed after midnight

Coahoma 26, Colorado City 12 — Brysen Kerby rushed for 119 yards and a score on 27 carries and Billy Bailey threw for 122 yards and a touchdown to lead Coahoma to a lightening-delayed win over one of its top area rivals.

The game was halted for more than three hours due to lightning and ended at roughly 1 a.m. Saturday morning.

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District 5-3A Div. II Week 4 Report: Mavs earn first win of the season

Eastland 28, Breckenridge 19 — Judson Beard rushed for 123 yards and two scores and Keaton Hicks threw for 116 yards and another touchdown to help Eastland (1-3) collect its first win of the year. 

The Mavs led 21-19 in the fourth quarter when Hicks hit Jared Cruz with a 32-yard TD strike to provide Eastland with a two-score cushion.

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District 3-3A Div. I Week 4 Report : Early remains unbeaten with win over Merkel

Early 47, Merkel 13 — Early stayed unbeaten behind 215 yards passing and three scores from Jaxyn Price. 

Leading 14-6 at the break, the Longhorns blew the game open with a 26-0 third quarter. 

Merkel was led by Dayton Huggins, who rushed for 26 yards and a score on five carries. Joey Zink threw for 153 yards, but was picked three times. 

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