Author: Brandon McAuliffe

FEATURE: Washington State’s Regalado headlines inaugural Big Country Football Clinic

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, Marco Regalado was an unknown position coach at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Memorial High School in the Rio Grande Valley.

During the pandemic, Regalado became a viral sensation known as the “TikTok Coach” as his videos depicting different coaches on every coaching staff took off like crazy and led to a whirlwind career that in just two short years has seen him land as the director of recruiting for Washington State University’s football team.

On Friday, the Zapata native was back in his home state as he headlined the inaugural Big Country Football Clinic at Station One in downtown Abilene.

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UIL STATE TRACK: Cross Plains girls just miss team title amid points total confusion

Photos by Joe Garcia III, PressPassSports.com

Katie Goains became a legend for the community of Cross Plains on Saturday night as the Class 1A state track and field meet came to a conclusion.

In the 1,600-meter relay, Goains passed Blum’s Kayden Arrington in the final meters to clock a time of 4:14.72 and earn a bronze medal.

More importantly, Goains’ strong closing effort helped lift the Lady Buffaloes into what they thought was a state championship.

The elation of the title was short lived as the Lady Buffs found out shortly after thinking they had tied Ackerly Sands for the title with 40 points that the UIL did not account for the four points that Sands’ Landry Morrow had earned in the 100 hurdles with her fourth-place finish.

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GAME RECAP: Big fifth inning lifts Bulldogs into the third round

FORT STOCKTON — Brooks Gay had 10 strikeouts and scattered six hits in five scoreless innings as the Wylie baseball team advanced to the third round of the playoffs with an 8-1 win over El Paso El Dorado on Saturday afternoon.

Braden Regala continued his postseason hot streak by going 3 for 3 at the plate and scoring three runs while also driving in four.

Wylie will now face El Paso Del Valle next week in the Region I-5A quarterfinals.

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GAME RECAP: Wylie bats come alive in Game 1 rout of EP El Dorado

FORT STOCKTON — Garrett Graham hit two home runs, Landon Williams had a two-run blast and JT Thompson went 4 for 4 at the plate as the Wylie baseball team opened its area-round series with a 17-6 thumping of El Paso El Dorado on Friday.

In addition to Thompson’s big day, Graham and Tye Briscoe each had three-hit games as the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the series.

Grayson Bearden earned the win on the mound in relief with three strong innings in which he allowed two runs on four hits after Trey Gomez and Sam Walker kept El Dorado at bay for the first four innings.

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UIL STATE TRACK: Day 2 sees Big Country bring home hardware in 2A; Haskell girls claim title

Photos by Joe Garcia III, PressPassSports.com

AUSTIN — With a second-place finish in the final event of the night, the Haskell girls track team won the Class 2A state championship Friday at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Asia Billington, Brittany Andrews, Emma Roewe and Savanna Camacho ran a time of 4 minutes, 00.37 seconds to claim the silver medal in the 1,600-meter relay, helping their team to a total of 60 points — just two more than runner-up Panhandle (58).

The Goldthwaite girls mile relay wrapped up a big event for the Big Country by stealing a bronze medal with a time of 4:03.78, cutting nearly six seconds off of their time from the regional meet.

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UIL STATE TRACK: Class 3A, 4A teams get Big Country off to a good start in Austin

AUSTIN — Stephenville freshman Keirstyn Carlton’s bronze medal in the high jump was the first in a string of surprising podium finishes as the UIL state track and field meet began Thursday at the University of Texas’ Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Carlton jumpstarted a day in which athletes from the Big Country Preps coverage area earned 17 medals.

It wasn’t just the individual medal count that started strong, but also team results. The Brock and Breckenridge boys finished 1-2 in the team standings in the Class 3A boys competition, finishing with 55 and 33 points, respectively, while the Stephenville girls finished in second place with 43 points in the 4A standings.

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BREAKING: Wylie promotes Powell, brings Hopper home as her replacement

As Wylie High School continues to grow, so too have its needs in the realm of athletic administration.

After promoting Amy Powell to a role in which she will serve as the campus coordinator for girls athletics, the school had an unexpected opening to lead the girls basketball program.

Enter Duane Hopper.

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GAME RECAP: Long ball lifts Wylie softball past Chapin in series opener

ODESSA — Reese Farrar shut down the El Paso Chapin softball team for most of the night as Wylie opened the Region I-5A area round with a 12-6 win Friday at Odessa Permian.

Ryleigh Whitehead had a pair of home runs as the Wylie offense collected six extra-base hits.

Whitehead and Mycala Reed each drove in four runs in the win.

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GAME RECAP: Wylie baseball sweeps Plainview to open postseason run

LAMESA — Trey Gomez had a complete game two-hitter on Friday afternoon to lead the Wylie baseball team to a 10-3 win over Plainview in the opening game of their best-of-three Region I-5A bi-district series.

Brooks Gay followed that up with five dominant innings on the mound in Game 2 to lead the Bulldogs to a sweep with an 11-7 win.

The Bulldogs offense helped the pitching staff with a combined 26 hits in the two games.

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GAME STORY: Whitmire dominates in circle as Breckenridge evens series with Bangs

EASTLAND — Breckenridge sophomore pitcher Chloe Whitmire had her second straight dominant effort as the Lady Buckaroos evened their Region I-3A bi-district softball series with Bangs at a game apiece with a 9-2 win on Friday night.

After getting 15 strikeouts in Bangs’ 3-1 win in the opener on Thursday, the sophomore carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning of Game 2 and added 14 more strikeouts as she pitched her team into a deciding third game at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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GAME STORY: Albany softball takes series opener against Hawley

In the postseason, teams must do two things: avoid mistakes on defense and capitalize on offense.

Thursday night at Cooper High School, the Hawley softball team made several mistakes and Albany was able to capitalize on them as the Lady Lions won 14-6 to take the opening game of the Region II-2A bi-district series.

Albany scored three runs off wild pitches on 1-2 counts with two outs in the second and third innings on their way to posting a pair of five-run frames in getting the win.

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GAME STORY: Stephenville stings rival Brownwood in Lions’ home finale

BROWNWOOD — Sophomore Luke Heller threw six innings of four-hit baseball as Stephenville knocked off Brownwood 11-1 in District 6-4A play on Tuesday night at Morris Southall Field.

Heller allowed just one run and one walk while striking out eight, and his effort on the mound was enough to give the Yellow Jackets offense time to get going.

It was an effort coach Justin Swenson was excited to see with the playoffs just around the corner.

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GAME STORY: Forsan finishes innings strong in win over Baird

BAIRD — Finish.

The Baird baseball team wasn’t able to finish innings on Friday afternoon while the Forsan Buffaloes scored eight runs with two outs in a 15-8 nondistrict win at Bell Park.

Those eight runs, when combined with Baird leaving nine runners on base, were the difference as the Buffs held off an upset bid from the Class 1A Bears.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High gets much needed 2-6A win over Odessa High

The Abilene High baseball team has had its fair share of struggles this year with a young squad and a front-loaded District 2-6A schedule.

But on Friday afternoon at Blackburn Field, the Eagles snapped a six-game district losing streak with a 5-3 win over Odessa High.

The victory marked AHS’ second consecutive win — the Eagles beat crosstown rival Cooper in a nondistrict game on Saturday — and gave coach Lee Fletcher’s team its second win in district over the Bronchos.

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GAME STORY: Barajas’ bat, superb defense lift AHS softball past Permian

The Abilene High softball team entered Friday’s District 2-6A game against Odessa Permian knowing that it needed to start the second half of district with a win.

The Lady Eagles, who opened district play with a 12-2 win over the Lady Panthers, completed the season sweep with an 8-3 home victory.

The win moved AHS (12-10 overall, 3-4 district) into a tie for third-place in district with Odessa High and marked Abilene High’s second straight victory following a four-game losing streak.

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GAME STORY: Gay’s pitching, offensive outburst help Bulldogs rout Cooper

Brooks Gay threw four no-hit innings and the Wylie offense capitalized on six errors by Cooper as the Bulldogs took a 17-1 win at Cougar Field in District 4-5A play on Friday night.

The top three hitters in Wylie’s lineup — Braden Regala, JT Thompson and Landon Williams — were a combined 3 for 8 with six walks, five runs scored and four RBIs.

That dominance at the top of the lineup set the tone for the Bulldogs offense early, allowing Gay to atone for a loss last week to Lubbock Cooper.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned edges Brady in thrilling pitcher’s duel

TUSCOLA — The Jim Ned baseball team has won countless games the past few seasons on the strength of stellar pitching and dependable defense.

That trend continued on Tuesday night in the Indians’ District 6-3A opener as Jim Ned knocked off Brady 2-0 at Indian Field behind a dominant performance on the mound by Blaine Palmer.

The senior allowed just two hits, one in the sixth inning and another in the seventh, and had 16 strikeouts while giving up just a single walk. He needed just 93 pitches to throw the complete-game shutout.

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BREAKING: AISD looks north, tabs Lubbock’s Garfield as new Athletic Director

A fast-paced search for a new Athletic Director for the Abilene Independent School District has come to an end with the selection of Jim Garfield to the post.

Garfield, 58, comes to AISD after serving as the Assistant Athletics Director for Lubbock ISD and will replace Phil Blue who is retiring at the end of the school year. Blue announced his retirement at the end of January.

He had been with LISD since early 2017.

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GAME STORY: Hermleigh’s dream season ends in regional finals

SNYDER — While trophies with golden basketballs on top of them are nice, the Hermleigh boys basketball team set a goal this year of a different trophy.

They wanted an “ugly brown trophy” instead.

While it’s not the state championship trophy, the Cardinals accomplished their goal despite seeing their season come to an end at the Western Texas College Coliseum with a 68-37 loss to No. 9 Irion County in the Region II-2A final on Saturday afternoon.

The UIL gives out trophies with plaques emblazoned with the organization’s logo and the team’s finish in the regional tournament to the finalists.

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GAME STORY: Cisco falls to Celeste in double overtime thriller

McKINNEY — Inbounding the ball in with just over two seconds left in regulation against Celeste in a Region II-2A semifinal, the Cisco boys basketball team had a potential game-winning play unfold almost perfectly.

Cisco coach Kevin Hearne likened the play call to what would be seen on the gridiron in the fall. With forward Trent Bailey playing quarterback and Kasen Conring running around as a decoy for Dawson Hearne, Bailey chose to heave a Hail Mary pass to Tre Brackeen under the basket.

Brackeen’s shot from close range rimmed out to send the game to overtime before the Blue Devils ultimately pulled away for a 73-63 double overtime win Friday night at McKinney North High School.

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GAME STORY: AHS overcomes no-hitter by Gutierrez for extra innings win

After nine games on the road and a canceled tournament, Jenna Bane made her home debut as Abilene High’s softball coach against Stamford on Tuesday night.

It was a debut she’s likely never going to forget.

The Lady Eagles were no-hit by SHS’ standout pitcher Citlaly Gutierrez, striking out 22 times. But Kinzley Cantu’s ninth-inning fly ball to right scored Aubriana Camacho to break a scoreless tie and lift AHS to a hard-fought 1-0 walk-off win over the defending Class 2A state champion Lady Bulldogs.

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GAME STORY: Jones, Brock dominate Merkel in area-round win

CISCO — Brock senior Nathan Jones missed the first 31 games of the Eagles basketball season as he recovered from a broken foot suffered during football season.

That hasn’t stopped the Big Ten-bound star from dominating on the basketball court the last two weeks in his first four games of the year.

The latest example came Friday night, when Jones put up 32 points and 18 rebounds to lead Brock past Merkel 83-36 in a Region I-3A area-round game at Cisco’s Ray Saunders Gymnasium.

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BREAKING: Ballinger’s Lipsey looks back on his career and announces his retirement

After a lengthy career spanning multiple decades, Chuck Lipsey has decided to hang up his whistle and retire from coaching, he announced on Friday.

In 21 years as a head coach, Lipsey compiled a record of 157-88 with stops at five schools: Winters, Whitewright, Bangs, Brady and Ballinger.

Lipsey led 20 of his 21 squads to the postseason, making it as deep as the state semifinals in 2002 with Winters, regional finals in 2003 with Whitewright and the regional semifinals during his time at Bangs (2012, 2013) and Ballinger (2020).

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GAME STORY: Hermleigh girls take down Eula in regional quarterfinals

For Duane Hopper, there truly is no place like home.

The former Wylie standout guard returned to his former gym on Tuesday night as the coach of the Hermleigh girls, and after a 54-39 win over Eula, Hopper has the Lady Cardinals in the regional tournament for the fifth consecutive year.

Having also starred for Hardin-Simmons University, having the chance to lead a team in front of his hometown crowd is something that he relishes, especially when Hermleigh was the only school to give him an opportunity coming out of HSU.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned girls turn slow start into big win over Holliday

STAMFORD — Heading into Friday’s Region I-3A area-round matchup with Holliday, the fifth-ranked Jim Ned girls basketball team had won 31 games by 1,100 points, an average of 35.5 points per game.

While it wasn’t as comfortable as most of their games this year, just eight of which were decided by 15 points or less, the Lady Indians were able to move on in their pursuit of their third state championship with a 59-36 win over the Lady Eagles at Bulldog Gymnasium.

Jim Ned has made the state tournament three times in school history, winning the title in the 1993-94 and 2007-08 seasons and falling in the semifinals in 2011-12 to Brock, which went on to win the title. To get back to state this year, the Lady Indians will first need to survive a brutal Region I-3A field.

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