Author: Brandon McAuliffe

FEATURE: Bruntmyer sisters leading the way for Abilene Christian

Abilene Christian volleyball coach Arnett McClure knows he’s got a good team this year and a big part of that is the play of sisters Halle and Shea Bruntmyer.

The daughters of Hardin-Simmons University president Eric Bruntmyer have become mainstays in McClure’s lineup, with Shea leading the way as the team’s setter and leading server, while Halle is a back-line anchor.

Shea, who is a year older than Halle, has the task of being both a teammate and older sister and has to juggle being able to know when to play each role both on and off the court.

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GAME STORY: Clyde overcomes penalties to shut out Eastland in home opener

CLYDE — The Clyde football team was flagged 23 times on Friday night, with 21 coming against the offense, but the Bulldogs were able to overcome them all, including 11 pre-snap penalties, to shut out Eastland 26-0 on Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.

Led by Blake Carr’s 166 yards passing and 169 yards rushing, the Bulldogs were able to put up 453 yards of offense to offset the 173 penalty yards that went against them.

Clyde coach Danny Dudgeon was proud of the resiliency that Carr, a junior, showed despite having to overcome numerous obstacles.

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GAME STORY: ACHS spikes Albany in nondistrict volleyball matchup

The Abilene Christian High School volleyball team started fast and dominated most of the night on Tuesday as the Lady Panthers swept Albany 25-11, 25-11, 25-22 at Panther Gym in nondistrict action.

Shea Bruntmyer led ACHS to the first six points of the match, highlighted by two aces, as the Lady Panthers improved to 15-9 on the season.

Albany, meanwhile, fell to 10-7 with the loss.

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GAME STORY: Permian outlasts Abilene High in defensive slugfest

Coming off wins in 2020 and 2021 over Odessa Permian, the Abilene High football team was looking to extend its winning streak against its former Little Southwest Conference rival.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, the offense could never get on track in Friday’s season opener at Shotwell Stadium, where the Panthers grinded out a 17-3 win over AHS.

Permian’s defense held Abilene High to just 49 yards of offense and three first downs — a first-quarter Brelon Badon pass that Austin Wood ripped out of a Permian defensive back’s hands, a six-yard run by De’Zhon Magee in the second quarter and a third quarter pass interference penalty.

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GAME STORY: Special teams mistakes doom Cooper in season-opening loss to Keller

Chris Warren threw for 287 yards and the Cooper defense held Keller to 200 yards, but it was a pair of special teams mistakes that nullified those efforts as the Indians took a 34-16 win at Shotwell Stadium in the season opener on Thursday night.

Keller’s Ryan Ventura had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown with 2:50 to play in the third quarter to give the Indians a 20-16 lead before following it up with a 35-yard touchdown run on a fake punt on fourth-and-13 with 2:03 left to ice the game.

Despite the special teams mistakes, Cooper coach Aaron Roan saw a lot of good things out of his squad to start the year.

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2022 MUNDAY FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Moguls looking to turn the corner under new coach

Webb Murphy knows the history of the Munday Mogul football program, both all-time and recent.

The first-year head coach is excited about having the opportunity to put his stamp on the program and get the Moguls gunning for their fourth state championship after previously winning titles in 1984, 2007 and 2012.

But in taking over a squad that has gone 3-32 over the past four seasons, he also knows it’s not going to be a quick fix.

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2022 ABILENE TLCA FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Eagles looking for successful transition to 11-man game

Jeremy Kirk knows what’s being written about his squad as he prepares for his second year at the helm of the Abilene TLCA program and leads the Eagles from the six-man ranks into Class 2A Division II.

Nobody is giving the Eagles much of a chance to be successful, and that’s how the coach likes it.

He wants to be the underdogs, but he also built a schedule that should see the Eagles get off to a competitive start with a pair of games against other programs that are transitioning to 11-man sandwiched around a matchup with the rebuilding Munday Moguls.

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2022 SIX-MAN PREVIEW: Can the Big Country sweep the state titles again?

After sweeping the 2021 Class 1A state championships with Strawn and Westbrook, the biggest question entering this year is if the Big Country can pull off the feat again.

The state titles were the first in six-man for the area since Strawn won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.

For most, being the defending state champion puts a big enough target on their back. This year, the Wildcats enter the year as the top-ranked team in Division I, while the Greyhounds (No. 5) are one of three Big Country teams in the top five of Division II.

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FEATURE: Volleyball makes triumphant return to Merkel

MERKEL — In 1967, the Merkel volleyball team lost in the state semifinals before knocking off Kemp in a three-set thriller to finish in third place in Class B in the program’s lone state tournament appearance.

Just 19 years later, the program was disbanded, leaving the town and community with no teams to support all week prior to the football games on Friday nights.

Tuesday night at Badger Gymnasium, that history was changed.

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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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