Author: Brandon McAuliffe

BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Blackwell’s Toasaksiri getting his gridiron kicks

Every year, a family in Blackwell brings in a foreign exchange student, and this year it is Thailand’s Mickey Toasaksiri who has made his way to the Big Country from nearly 9,000 miles away.

Taking in the full West Texas experience at the rural high school located about 30 miles south of Sweetwater, Toasaksiri has not only joined the Hornet football team, he’s found a role on coach Clint Lowry’s squad as a placekicker.

Lowry, who has grown accustomed to having the foreign exchange students around campus, appreciates what Toasaksiri has brought to the Blackwell community and his team — even if learning to pronounce his name has been a challenge.

This has earned his kicker the affectionate nickname “Mickey T.” And Toasaksiri’s proficiency in his new role has quickly earned him the trust of his coaches and teammates. 

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GAME STORY: Clyde’s defense shuts out Comanche

CLYDE — The Clyde defense turned in its second-best effort of the young season as the Bulldogs posted a 34-0 win over Comanche on Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.

The Indians, who were coming off a momentum building 31-28 win over Breckenridge last week, couldn’t get on track in the loss as they gained just 66 yards — only nine of which came after the game’s opening drive.

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Kittley’s goals evolve to help Rule program, family

RULE — Rule coach Kade Kittley returned to his alma mater last year to try and turn around a program that had fallen on hard times over the past several seasons.

After beating Throckmorton 56-52 in the bi-district round of the 2016 playoffs, the Bobcats lost 13 straight contested games.

Friday night, Kittley led his squad to a 60-14 win over Lubbock Christ the King, snapping a more than two-year run of futility. The win was the latest in a series of positive events as Kittley has worked to change the culture the Rule program.

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2019 Brownwood Snyder

GAME STORY: Brownwood scores at will in 70-3 homecoming win over Snyder

BROWNWOOD — The Brownwood Lions had no issues in rolling to an easy homecoming win over Snyder on Friday night at Gordon Wood Stadium.

The Lions scored a touchdown on all four of their offensive plays in the first quarter en route to a 70-3 win over the Tigers, avenging a 31-21 loss from last season.

Reece Rodgers ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns in the first half on just five carries, while Drew Huff had a pair of touchdown passes to Adonis McCarty as the Lions imposed their will.

Brownwood set a school record by scoring 63 points in the first half.

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GAME STORY: Wylie unable to keep pace in loss to Lubbock Monterey

LUBBOCK — For one quarter Friday night at Lubbock’s Lowrey Field, the Wylie Bulldogs looked like they had a shot to snap a losing streak that dates back to the 2017 season.

The Bulldogs trailed Lubbock Monterey 21-13 in a high-scoring first quarter before the Plainsmen pulled away en route to a 49-26 win in nondistrict play.

The loss dropped Wylie to 0-2 on the season.

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Jayton’s Scogin, Stanaland share bond beyond field

JAYTON — Today, Jayton coach Josh Stanaland and standout Tye Scogin share one of the closest player-coach relationships in the Big Country.

But the genesis of that bond predates either person’s time in his current role for the Jaybirds. 

In fact, to find Scogin’s earliest memories of Stanaland, you’d have to go back to his childhood years at the swimming pool.

“We have been (around) each other almost 17 or 18 years,” the Jayton standout said of his head coach. “When I was a kid, he was my lifeguard most of the time, so my whole life, I’ve been with him. We have kept that bond from when I was a baby to now that I’m a senior in high school.”

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SIDEBAR: Travel woes don’t affect Cooper in opener

KELLER — Cooper football coach Aaron Roan preaches to his squad that they can only control what they can control.

After last week’s scrimmage against San Angelo Central was delayed due to issues surrounding buses for the Central football team, the Cougars experienced their own travel nightmare before the season even kicked off.

Expecting to leave campus around 12:30 for Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at Keller, the Cougars buses didn’t show up on campus until after 2 p.m.

Once on the road, Cooper’s football team was slowed down by both rain and rush hour traffic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before finally arriving at Keller ISD Stadium shortly before 5:30, resulting in kickoff being pushed back approximately 15 minutes.

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GAME STORY: Cooper claims thrilling win over Keller

KELLER – Dylon Davis led the way with two interceptions and the Cooper defense and special teams forced four turnovers total on their way to a season-opening 21-20 win over Keller at Keller ISD Stadium on Friday night.

Davis’ second interception came at the back of the end zone on the play after a holding call wiped out a touchdown pass by Hayden Anderson that would have tied the game at 14-14 at the start of the fourth quarter – something that only set the tone for a wild fourth quarter.

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FEATURE: Sustained success puts milestones in reach for Big Country football programs

Anyone who follows high school football in Texas knows that the Big Country has a rich tradition of producing winners on the gridiron.

But just how rich is that history?

Of the top 100 winningest 11-man programs in Texas history (regardless of classification), 11 call the Big Country home.

Brownwood is the standard-bearer with 738 wins in program history, which ranks sixth all-time. The Lions have a winning percentage of .654, which ranks 38th of programs that have a minimum of 500 games played.

The Lions, who have been playing football since 1907, are one of just 12 programs in the state to scale the 700-win plateau. But that number could grow by as many as six teams this fall, with three of those six teams hailing from the Big Country.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS SIX-MAN PREVIEW: Class 1A Division I

Three Big Country teams cracked the top 15 in the Class 1A Division I preseason poll, laying the foundation for what should be another exciting season at that level. Gorman heads the list at No. 7 after posting an 8-5 record a year ago, while a deep and experienced Ira squad checked in at No. 11 and Knox City was ranked 14th.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS SIX-MAN PREVIEW: Division II

This season shapes up with a lot of promise for the Big Country in the Class 1A Division II ranks with four teams in the top 10 and six in the top-20 to start of the year. The area has the two-time defending state champion in Strawn, but the Greyhounds are ranked second in preseason polls behind Josh Stanaland’s Jayton squad.

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FCA VOLLEYBALL: Coaches enjoy different perspective

Ever since the Big Country FCA added volleyball to its annual All-Star Festival five years ago, they’ve gone with a different format than you’ll see in any other match.

Sure the two squads are prepared to play five sets, but the first two sets are a relaxed atmosphere to ensure that everyone gets into the game before it becomes hyper-competitive in a best-of-three match to determine the winner.

The first year of the event caused plenty of confusion, but since then the unique format has allowed for memories to be extra special.

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UPDATED: Abilene High stays in house for new football coach, promotes DC Fullen

The Eagle has landed.

A coaching search that lasted just over five weeks has finally drawn to a close with Abilene High naming Mike Fullen as the new head football coach on Monday morning.

Fullen, who has spent 22 of the past 23 seasons on the Abilene High staff, was previously the squad’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator and led the Eagles through spring football.

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GAME STORY: Mascorro’s home run difference in Wall’s win over Brock

Charlie Mascorro’s two-run fourth inning home run was the difference as Wall rallied for a 3-2 win over Brock in the opening game of the Region I-3A final at ACU’s Crutcher Scott Field on Thursday night.

Mascorro’s blast to left field provided the winning run as Caleb Heuertz and Ryan Gully combined to hold the Eagles to four hits as top-ranked Wall improved to 36-0 this season.

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SIDEBAR: Wall’s defense too powerful for Buckaroos

Wall shortstop Ryan Gully showed off range Saturday that would have made Ozzie Smith proud in the Hawks’ Region I-3A semifinal against Breckenridge.

The senior made countless eye-popping stops to either rob a hit or prevent extra bases and his play is a big reason top-ranked Wall will face Brock for a state berth next week.

“He has been like that (all season) and has been really comfortable coming back from his injury,” Wall coach Jason Schniers said. “That was a big injury for a 17-, 18-year-old kid. He made plays tonight that in the back of my mind I was just like ‘Wow. I’m glad he’s on my team.'”

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FEATURE: Family ties too strong for Lombard to resist leaving Wall

In the end, it took a special situation for Tate Lombard to leave girls basketball powerhouse Wall.

That opportunity came about over the weekend and the Big Country Preps girls basketball coach of the year resigned his position on Monday morning to take an assistant coach position on his father’s staff at Class 4A Canyon High School.

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GAME STORY: Big innings, Kizer fuel Brock softball to 17-0 win over Slaton

No. 7 ranked Brock got a one-hitter from Lauren Kizer and rolled to a 17-0 win over Slaton in the opening game of the Region I-3A semifinals Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field.

Kizer finished the night with 12 strikeouts, recording at least two in every inning and striking out the side in the second and fifth innings.

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GAME STORY: Albany sweeps district rival Haskell in regional quarterfinals

Albany leadoff hitter B.J. Morris safely reached base in his first seven plate appearances on Thursday night and led the Lions to a Region I-2A quarterfinal sweep over Haskell with 15-1 and 6-3 wins at McMurry’s Walt Driggers Field.

The sweep propelled Albany into the regional semifinals against the winner of the Hale Center-Gruver series.

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GAME STORY: Stamford unable to overcome hitting woes in loss to Windthorst

Citlaly Gutierrez put the Stamford softball team on her back Saturday morning, but it wasn’t enough as the Lady Bulldogs dropped Game 3 of their Region I-2A quarterfinal matchup with Windthorst 4-2 at ACU’s Wells Field.

Gutierrez went 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run and drew a walk while scattering six hits and striking 13. She threw 130 pitches and started off 27 of 33 batters with a strike.

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SIDEBAR: Clyde softball driven to repeat 2018’s success

After falling in the regional final last year to Brock, the Clyde softball team has had one goal in mind for the 2019 season — make it back to the final.

The Lady Bulldogs took the next step on Saturday as they finished off a two-game sweep of Eastland in the Region I-3A quarterfinal to setup a date with District 1-3A champion Bushland next week.

The disappointment of last spring’s run ending just shy of a state tournament berth pushed Clyde through the offseason and during the 2019 spring.

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GAME STORY: No. 7 ranked Breckenridge sweeps Anson

Breckenridge’s Owen Woodward had a walk-off three-run home run for a 12-2 win over Anson on Friday night at ACU’s Crutcher Scott Field in the first game of a best-of-three Region I-3A baseball series.

“It felt pretty good,” Woodward said. “It helped us roll into the second win.”

The Buckaroos then finished off the sweep with a 13-1 win in the nightcap to advance to face Holliday, which swept Jim Ned on Friday.

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GAME STORY: Brownwood pummels Midland Greenwood, advances in baseball postseason

The Brownwood baseball team advanced to the third round of the postseason with a pair of decisive wins over Midland Greenwood on Friday afternoon at ACU’s Crutcher Scott Field.

The Lions posted wins of 12-0 and 15-3 to win the best-of-three Region I-4A area-round series and earn a date with the winner of the Argyle-Graham series that also saw its first two games being contested Friday.

Argyle is the top-ranked team in the state.

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GAME STORY: Anson outlasts Early in extra innings to advance

It took parts of four days, but the Anson baseball team is moving on to the area round of the Region I-3A playoffs after a comeback in their best-of-three bi-district series with Early.

After taking the second game 15-10 at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, the Tigers outlasted the Longhorns 7-6 in nine innings in the deciding game to take a 2-1 series win.

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GAME STORY: Big Spring softball advances past Glen Rose

The Big Spring softball team notched a 20-win season on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Glen Rose in a Region I-4A area round matchup at Abilene Christian University in the deciding game of their best-of-three series.

Glen Rose held off a Lady Steers rally in Game 2 for a 6-5 win that forced the winner-take-all situation.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned blasts Eastland 11-1 in Game 3

Ryan Lewis didn’t realize the train that goes through Tuscola passes by on average every 30 minutes during the night.

If he did, the Jim Ned baseball coach might not have slept at the fieldhouse after getting back from the Indians 10-4 Game 2 Region I-3A bi-district loss to Eastland at 1:30 a.m. in a best-of-three series.

The Indians had a short turnaround with the deciding game being at 10:30 Saturday morning at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, but the lack of sleep didn’t hurt them as they used eight stolen bases and a stellar pitching performance from Kade Frazier for an 11-1 win.

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GAME STORY: Cisco runs past Merkel and into the second round

Stephen Bird

CISCO — After Merkel freshman pitcher Blaine Palmer needed just 12 pitches to retire the first five Cisco batters, Stephen Bird knew he needed to draw out his first at-bat.

Bird drew a six-pitch walk before scoring on Dawson White’s RBI double to jumpstart the Cisco offense which routed Merkel 12-0 at Cisco College on Friday to finish off a sweep of the Region I-3A bi-district series.

Cisco advances to face the winner of the Brock-Childress series next week.

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GAME STORY: Reagan pitches Early past Colorado City, into second round

After a wild 15-11 win in extra innings in Thursday’s opening game of the Region I-3A bi-district round of the softball playoffs, the Early Lady Longhorns got a dominant performance in the circle from Laiken Reagan on Saturday afternoon.

Reagan had seven strikeouts and scattered three hits at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field as Early finished off a sweep of Colorado City with a 2-0 win.

The Lady Longhorns pitcher threw 93 pitches (69 strikes, 24 balls) while facing 26 batters, leading her team to an area-round date with Brock next week.

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GAME STORY: Clyde takes 5-3A district championship with 5-3 win over Jim Ned

TUSCOLA — The Clyde baseball team clinched its fourth consecutive district championship with a 5-3 win over Jim Ned on Monday night in District 5-3A play.

Riley Rice went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs while scattering four hits. Rice also struck out eight and walked three as he outdueled Jim Ned freshman Tate Yardley.

Yardley went 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out four. He walked one and hit four others.

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GAME STORY: Bullpen struggles cost Abilene High in extra-inning loss

In what can only be summed up using the word stunning, the Abilene High baseball team ended its District 3-6A slate with a 17-13 loss to Euless Trinity in eight innings Friday at Blackburn Field.

The Trojans sent 11 (sixth), eight (seventh) and 10 (eighth) batters to the plate in the final three innings, scoring 12 runs after AHS starting pitcher Bailey Aulerich was pulled due to pitch count limitations with the Eagles up 12-5 in the sixth.

The senior scattered eight hits over 5.2 innings, allowing seven runs (four earned) while striking out four and walking three. Two of the runs charged to Aulerich scored after he had been pulled.

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GAME STORY: Tant’s one-hitter leads Jim Ned to 7-0 win over Anson

TUSCOLA — Landon Tant flirted with his second no-hitter of the season, allowing just a two-out single in the fifth inning to lead Jim Ned to a 7-0 win over Anson on Tuesday night in District 5-3A action.

Tant had 12 strikeouts and allowed just three walks as Jim Ned improved to 16-6 overall and 9-1 in district. The Tigers, meanwhile, fell two games back in the standings. Tant struck out at least one batter in every inning except the sixth.

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FEATURE: PlayMaker deals with change to continue its mission

Over its first five years, the annual PlayMaker: Making A Difference even has dealt with a constant venue change — never being held in the same spot twice.

This year’s event, however, saw a change that Hamlin football coach (and event organizer) Russell Lucas couldn’t have even predicted.

Slated to be a three-day retreat at co-organizer Dan Byerly’s ranch south of Hamlin (the sixth venue in the event’s six years), Lucas and his staff had to call a late audible Saturday morning to move the event from the ranch to Hamlin High School.

Yes, a second venue for this year.

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