Author: Brandon McAuliffe

GAME STORY: Dublin’s season ends with loss to Holliday

PONDER — At larger schools, it’s easy to find a good kicker, but the further you go down in classifications, the harder it gets.

Holliday found one in Logan Whitling and used his right leg to claim a 33-14 win over Dublin in a Region II-3A Division II bi-district game at Ponder Field on Friday night.

Whitling had a field goal in each quarter — connecting from 31, 28, 28 and 41 yards — as he was able to constantly put pressure on coach Bob Cervetto’s team.

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GAME STORY: Christoval ends Cross Plains’ season with defensive effort

BALLINGER — The Cross Plains football team did everything it needed to do in order to win Thursday night’s Region II-2A Division II bi-district game at Bearcat Stadium against Christoval.

Having played the Cougars three times in the past two seasons, including a 26-14 loss in Week 4 this year, the Buffaloes knew they were going to have to keep the Christoval offense on the sidelines.

The Buffaloes did just that in the second half, holding the ball for over 16 consecutive minutes, but a pair of costly pick-six interceptions cost Cross Plains in a 28-14 loss.

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FEATURE: ‘Meet the Eagles’ offers a glimpse into the future

Late in the 20th century, one of the toughest tickets in town to get was a seat in Eagle Gymnasium for an Abilene High basketball game.

That’s something second-year boys coach Justin Reese and seventh-year girls coach Terri Aston are trying to bring back.

“We knew that the hard work would eventually pay off,” Aston said after Monday night’s second annual ‘Meet the Eagles’ event. “We have put in a lot of time and effort trying to make this gym turn out the way that it used to. Justin and I come from the generations where you couldn’t even get in the gym and if you wanted to, you had to get here early enough to get a seat.”

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GAME STORY: Fielding, Bonilla lead Eastland past Jim Ned

TUSCOLA — Brandon Fielding accounted for 172 yards of offense and Anthony Bonilla had a pair of touchdowns as Eastland clinched the second seed for District 3-3A Division I with a 29-14 win over Jim Ned at Indian Stadium on Friday night.

Fielding, a bruising 225-pound running back, ran for 97 yards and added a 54-yard touchdown catch in which he tip-toed his way down the sideline as the Mavericks earned a bi-district matchup with Whitesboro. That game will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday in Graham.

“I feel pretty good but I’m a little beat up,” Fielding said. “It’s not anything that (the trainer) can’t fix.”

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Young Robert Lee Steers control their playoff destiny

The Robert Lee football team lost 11 lettermen and a head coach from last year’s playoff team.

Inheriting a squad that was moving up a wealth of talent from an undefeated JV squad, Karry Owens was hired to replace 11-year coach Shay Avants at the end of the school year and didn’t get to start working with his squad until late summer.

Fast forward to today and Owens’ Steers enter the final week of regular season with a clear path back to the playoffs — win Friday and they’re in.

The Steers will look to get that win against Eden. And adding to the intrigue of that matchup is the fact that the Bulldogs are led by Avants, who took defensive coordinator Manuel Gamboa with him when he left Robert Lee.

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GAME STORY: Wylie playoff hopes on life support after loss to Lubbock Cooper

The Wylie football team went into Friday night’s District 3-5A Division II game against Lubbock Cooper needing to pull off an upset of the district leaders to bolster their playoff hopes.

Instead, the Bulldogs saw a strong first quarter evaporate before halftime before dropping a 49-14 decision to the Pirates at Bulldog Stadium.

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Tough schedule, new game challenge Roby

This year has been all about learning for the Roby football team.

The Lions made the move from 11-man to six-man for this season and have been playing an outlaw schedule this fall against some of the toughest teams in the state.

Roby has faced Division I’s No. 3 Borden County and No. 12 Aspermont, as well as Division II’s No. 1 Jayton and the top outlaw team in Irion County this season.

For coach Angel Pantoja, that murderer’s row of scheduling hasn’t been exactly fun.

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GAME STORY: No. 9 Cooper stays perfect with Lubbock High rout

Noah Garcia ran for 189 yards and five touchdowns, Aidan Thompson threw for 207 yards with two touchdowns and Cooper moved to 9-0 on the season and 5-0 in District 2-5A Division I with a 49-14 win over Lubbock High on Friday at Shotwell Stadium.

Dylon Davis added two interceptions — increasing his state-leading season total to 12 — as the ninth-ranked Cougars did their part to set a showdown in two weeks with Amarillo High for the district championship.

Davis, who broke Brandon Berg’s career interception record with the 15th and 16th picks of his career, had a third interception that was called back due to a penalty on Cooper.

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Baird Bears embracing, adjusting to new challenge

BAIRD — Baird High School spent 97 years playing 11-man football before the decision was made in late June to play an outlaw six-man schedule this year due to being in between UIL realignments.

That change has paid immediate dividends for the 5-2 Bears.

“It brought us some energy because you have to do your homework,” Baird coach Joel Baker said. “We did our homework this summer and we visited a lot of people to find out how to do (the transition) right.”

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 3 Wall claims thriller over Jim Ned

TUSCOLA — If defensive football is your thing, then the Big Country Preps Game of the Week was one you would have loved Friday night at Jim Ned’s Indian Stadium.

In a potential playoff preview, the Wall defense held Jim Ned to 76 yards of offense and claimed a 14-7 win in a defensive battle full of big hits and momentum swings.

“I will take any kind of win, whether it’s ugly or not,” Wall coach Houston Guy said. “I knew going in that they were going to be very tough defensively. I thought that they were going to be hard to run the ball against.”

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Reed has found a familiar place in Gordon

As Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” And that certainly rings true for Gordon football coach Mike Reed.

After a four-year stint as the head coach at Hamilton, Reed returned to the six-man ranks last year when he took over the football program at his alma mater.

Prior to heading to Hamilton, Reed led the programs at Strawn, Rule and Throckmorton after attending college at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

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GAME STORY: Garcia, Sifuentes lead Cooper past Palo Duro

Noah Garcia and Dalziel Sifuentes combined to run for 321 yards and quarterback Aidan Thompson accounted for four touchdowns as the 10th-ranked Cooper football team moved to 7-0 on the season and 3-0 in District 2-5A Division I play with a 42-6 win over Amarillo Palo Duro on Friday night at Shotwell Stadium.

Garcia ran for 207 yards and a touchdown to put him over 1,400 yards on the season, while Sifuentes made his varsity debut in a big way.

The varsity newcomer had 114 yards on 20 carries as he got a chance to shine under the Friday night lights for the first time.

Continue reading “GAME STORY: Garcia, Sifuentes lead Cooper past Palo Duro”

BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Strawn gets everyone’s best shot while reloading

STRAWN — The Strawn Greyhounds are the two-time defending state champions and, as such, get their opponent’s best shot on a weekly basis.

In 2017, Tanner Hodgkins (127 rushing yards, 4 total TDs) and Christian Villanueva (104 rushing yards, 76 passing yards, 4 total TDs) led Strawn to a 78-42 win over Balmorhea in the Class 1A Division I state title game.

Playing for the Division II championship last year, the duo combined for four touchdowns as the Greyhounds rolled Follett 48-0.

That duo is gone this year and Strawn has turned to senior running back J.W. Montgomery to fill the void that was left.

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GAME STORY: Turnovers doom Strawn in loss to Garden City

STRAWN — A 24-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Garden City’s John Michael Alegria set the tone for the Bearkats, who upset No. 2 Strawn 78-32 on Friday night in a game that ended with 4:30 to play.

Alegria added four catches for 172 and three touchdowns as the Bearkats had touchdowns on 10 of their 12 drives on the night, while the Greyhounds had five fumbles, losing three.

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Ira’s Goodwin reaping rewards of longevity

Feature photo by Summer McCowen

Toby Goodwin

Toby Goodwin has been at Ira now for 23 years, spending the past 22 of as the man in charge of the Bulldog football program.

Inheriting an Ira outfit that had gone 158-262 since starting varsity competition in 1947, Goodwin provided a steady hand at the top and quickly went about reversing the Bulldogs’ fortunes.

Since taking over program in 1998, Goodwin has posted a 195-51 record in his lone stop as a head coach, including five straight wins to open this season.

But as large a role as he’s played in the Bulldogs’ turnaround, he’s quick to deflect praise that comes his way.

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GAME STORY: Richland starts fast, rallies late for win over AHS

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Missed opportunities and big plays cost the Abilene High football team in a heartbreaking 35-34 loss to North Richland Hills Richland in the District 3-6A opener at Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletic Complex on Friday night.

Seth Wells’ 9-yard touchdown catch on a wide receiver reverse pass from C.J. Nelson with 48 seconds to play capped off an eight-play, 82-yard scoring drive that proved to be the game-winner.

It was Richland’s first points since taking a 28-7 lead with 7:28 to play in the first half.

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Loss of home stadium leaves ACS as lone Saturday game in town

2019 ACHSIn March 2015, the old Elmer Gray Stadium on the campus of Abilene Christian University was torn down to make way for what is now Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium.

The demolition for the new on-campus football stadium came as the university built with an eye on the future as a member of NCAA Division I and the Southland Conference and needed a recruiting tool other schools might not have.

Tearing down the stadium, though, had a consequence for local high school football fans — it meant that Abilene Christian High School was left without a place to play home football games.

After spending the 2016 season playing at Curly Hays Field, the Panthers found a partner in the Abilene Independent School District.

With Abilene High and Cooper being the primary tenants of Shotwell Stadium, AISD superintendent Dr. David Young and athletic director Phil Blue found a solution for the Panthers to keep home games in town.

AISD and ACS quickly came up with a plan that allowed the Panthers to use the now 59-year-old stadium rent-free on Saturday’s with AISD keeping only concession sales.

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GAME STORY: Stamford takes “Battle for 277” over Haskell

HASKELL — The Stamford football team was looking for a spark Friday night against Highway 277 rival Haskell and found two of them — in the first quarter alone.

D’Marcus Barber had a pair of first quarter touchdown runs before the two squads endured a 45-minute lightning delay that changed the game in a 39-14 Bulldogs win that spoiled the Indians’ homecoming game.

Stamford put up 480 yards of offense, with Barber accounting for 268 of those as the offense got rolling with the senior running back and quarterback Trace Price.

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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. 

Continue reading “BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Blackwell’s Toasaksiri getting his gridiron kicks”

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.