Author: Zach Duncan, Special to Big Country Preps

FEATURE: Hard-working Merkel senior O’Malley looking to finish career off right

Alyssa O’Malley’s happy place is inside a basketball gym.

That’s where the Merkel senior spends most of her free time, honing her shot and working on her craft.

“A special coach once told me that there is always someone out there working harder than you,” O’Malley said. “There is a lot of pride taken into my work ethic as I know that the preparation side of the game is vital to the way I perform.”

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FEATURE: Stamford girls still thriving under new coach and new tactics

Joe Crabb knew he was inheriting a talented girls basketball team when he became Stamford’s coach over the summer.  

But Crabb had no idea the profound impact the Lady Bulldogs would have on him in such a short amount of time.

“It’s a special, special group to me. I’ve liked all my kids I’ve ever coached, but I feel like we’re a really close group,” Crabb said. “It’s been a blast. They’ve given me a new lease on life, rejuvenated me for sure.”  

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GAME STORY: Albany pulls away from Windthorst to avenge last season’s loss

GRAHAM — As quarterback Cole Chapman continued backpedaling to take one last knee Friday night, Albany’s celebration could finally commence.  

The fourth-ranked Lions had waited a long time to get the better of defending champion Windthorst. Thanks to another quick start and a relentless defense, Albany avenged last year’s disappointment with a 28-14 victory at Newton Field. 

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GAME STORY: Santo falls to Windthorst, 40-7

rioGRAHAM — When Santo’s option offense gets rolling, it puts opponents on edge and drains precious minutes off the clock.  

But the Wildcats couldn’t gain any traction Friday afternoon against No. 3 Windthorst’s dominant front. 

That translated into a lot of Santo punts and short fields for the Trojans, who kept their title defense hopes alive with a 40-7 victory at Newton Field. 

Windthorst (12-1) advances to play Albany next week for the Region II-2A Division II title, while Santo ends one of its best seasons in school history at 11-2. 

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FEATURE: Stephenville’s Reese Young spearheading a quietly effective defense

Stephenville’s prolific offense garners much regional and statewide attention.  

While the headlines are deserved, another crucial reason why the No. 2 Yellow Jackets are one game away from a perfect regular season has to do with the guys on the other side of the ball.  

Linebacker Reese Young and his defensive brethren have made a stark improvement from a year ago.  

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FEATURE: Strong senior class fueling Wylie volleyball into playoffs

The seven seniors that Wylie volleyball coach Shay Cox works with hold a special place in her heart.

Five of them were in Cox’s fifth grade PE class when she started out with the district, and Cox has enjoyed watching them grow and thrive on a yearly basis.

Entering the playoffs Tuesday with a 6 p.m. match against Amarillo Tascosa at Lubbock Coronado, the Wylie seniors are guaranteed just one more match. But both Cox and her core group of leaders are determined to extend their time together as long as possible. 

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FEATURE: Hoops-crazy Lingleville enjoying fine football season

Photo by Keith Philips

Now is usually about the time Lingleville is counting down the days until basketball season.  

The Cardinals have had only two winning seasons since football returned in 2010, and expectations for this fall weren’t sky high after last year’s 1-9 record.  

But football is all the buzz these days in western Erath County as Lingleville (6-1) has been one of the Big Country’s biggest surprises. Coach Ken Davis and the Cardinals have won six straight games heading into Friday’s critical District 13-A Division I matchup against Baird.  

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GAME STORY: Jacksboro edges Eastland 51-48 in wild District 5-3A DII clash

JACKSBORO — Eastland’s Judson Beard sliced through Jacksboro’s defense for a 57-yard touchdown Friday night with 2:34 left, propelling the Mavericks back into the lead.

But no advantage seemed to be safe in a District 5-3A Division II shootout at Tiger Stadium.

Jacksboro had just enough time to answer as quarterback Lando Belcher scored from four yards out with 42 seconds remaining, lifting the Tigers to a wild 51-48 victory.

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FEATURE: Resurgent Baird Bears seeking to continue climb in Schlieve’s second season

Photos by Sarah Schlieve

Baird has experienced growth in Derek Schlieve’s second season running the football program.

The Bears got off to their best start in a couple decades, winning their first five games and handing Gordon its only loss of the season.

Even though their momentum was slightly dashed after Friday’s 78-30 loss to Fort Worth Covenant Classical, Schlieve is insistent his guys are remembering the big picture.

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FEATURE: Close-knit Benjamin volleyball team outperforming expectations despite youth

Photos by Brittany Lowe 

The Benjamin volleyball team’s theme this season is “Believe in We.”  

It’s a three-word motto the Lady Mustangs have taken to heart during a successful 2021 campaign despite depending on a heavy dose of underclassmen.  

That belief in each other has forged a dynamic team chemistry that is one of the reasons Benjamin is ranked No. 18 in the state at the Class 2A/1A level.  

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FEATURE: Albany’s Chapman making move to quarterback look easy

Albany’s Denney Faith had high expectations before the 2021 season regarding Cole Chapman taking over the reins of the Lions’ attack.  

Faith had seen Chapman excel at the position at lower levels. He’d seen Chapman thrive on varsity last season at receiver and cornerback.  

Faith also knew the supporting cast Albany had would be able to put Chapman in the best position possible to succeed.  

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FEATURE: Cotter’s arrival in Albany gives Lady Lions one of the area’s most versatile players

Albany’s Sarah Beth Cotter is still relatively new to volleyball.  

Those who’ve been the victim of her thunderous kills lately would be slightly surprised to find out Cotter didn’t begin playing the sport until the eighth grade.  

That’s when she enrolled in Albany ISD after previously having been home-schooled.  

“I begged my mom to let me go to public school so I could play multiple sports,” Cotter said. “I had only played tennis my whole life but wanted to try something new. The switch wasn’t too hard because I already knew most of the girls at my school and on my sports teams.”  

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FEATURE: Mann, Thornton join forces to help Santo to 6-0 start

Photos courtesy of Jim Taylor

rioAfter Santo knocked off Rio Vista in the first game this season, head coach Devon Mann had a gift to deliver.

Mann admittedly isn’t a big fan of delving out game balls, but he made an exception in Week 1, presenting the pigskin to someone he knows well – Santo’s all-time winningest coach Randy Thornton.

After four years away running Hico’s program, Thornton has returned to the small Palo Pinto County town and joined Mann’s staff as the offensive coordinator.

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FEATURE: Snyder’s versatile Burns as good on the backline as she is at the net

Action photos by Ali Martinez. Portrait by Mindi Bredemeyer. 

Joanie Burns has worked hard to become a valuable, versatile player in Snyder’s attack.  

But while the senior has put in dozens of hours to hone her craft, she doesn’t quite see it as a burden.   

“I would say I’ve worked hard,” she said. “However, it’s not work when you love what you’re doing.”  

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FEATURE: Resurgent Lady Eagle volleyball a Big Country surprise in 2021

Abilene High School is enjoying a turnaround season under first-year head volleyball coach Caroline Cleveland.  

The Lady Eagles have won 19 games heading into Tuesday’s match against Frenship. Even though they haven’t gotten off to the best district start, Cleveland sees how much potential her girls possess nearly every day.  

One example of that upside is sophomore setter Shea Bruntmyer, who is thriving in her first season as a six-rotation player.  

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FEATURE: Lambert rapidly becoming one of the area’s top quarterbacks

Lambert

Stephenville’s successful quarterback lineage is one of the Big County’s most impressive athletic accomplishments.

Junior Ryder Lambert knows that tradition well. He can’t pick just one quarterback when asked who he enjoyed watching lead the Yellowjackets’ offense while growing up.

But he doesn’t have to look very hard for motivation, either.  

“I can say that I am lucky to be coached every day by one of the best with coach (Kelan) Luker,” Lambert said of his quarterback coach who led Stephenville to a championship in 1998. “I hope to represent Stephenville as well as he did and hopefully bring home a state title.”

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FEATURE: McMurry-bound Miller leading the way for Wylie volleyball

As the setter for Wylie’s volleyball team, Lexi Miller knows the Lady Bulldogs’ attack goes through her.  

By running a 5-1 rotation, Wylie coach Shay Cox puts a lot on her senior, who has rarely left the court the past three seasons.  

“Lexi knows who to get the ball to and who’s getting the job done,” Cox said. “We talk about mixing it up – you don’t want the defense to key in on one hitter. Lexi works hard to balance it well and puts us in a good position.”  

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FEATURE: Father and son Price combo leading Early’s football resurgence

Daniel Price admits to getting caught up in the moment and having the occasional proud dad moment on the sidelines this season.  

Early’s head football coach has a lot to be excited about these days. The Longhorns are off to their best start in some time, having beaten Bangs, Tolar and Comanche handily.  

Leading an offense that’s averaging 46 points per game is Daniel’s oldest son, Jaxyn. The junior quarterback has looked sharp in his second season as a starter, having already thrown for 621 yards and 10 touchdowns.    

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GAME STORY: Holliday whips Eastland 52-7 behind 326 rushing yards

HOLLIDAY – The two Eastland-Holliday showdowns last season featured double-digit rallies and frantic finishes.  

But the Mavericks’ visit to the No. 7 Eagles Friday night lacked any drama compared to the previous meetings.  

Holliday gashed Eastland for 326 rushing yards and forced six turnovers in a statement-making 52-7 victory that was all but decided by halftime.  

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FEATURE: Former Early coach staying close to the game he loves

Blake Sandford has been around the Big Country long enough to know about the region’s high-quality baseball players and coaches.  

After retiring from Early ISD in December, Sandford finally has some spare time. So the former major league scout and Brown County coach has started his own instructional baseball business as a way to help grow the sport even further.  

Hitman Baseball Academy is at its early stages right now, but Sandford is hopeful his 20-plus years of experience attracts youth who want to improve in all aspects of the game. 

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GAME STORY: Coahoma opens with win over Wichita Falls City View

IOWA PARK— Makayla Calvio admitted she felt a little nervous in the seventh inning of Coahoma’s series opener against Wichita Falls City View.  

But the freshman pitcher also trusted the Bulldogettes’ defense in case a play needed to be made.  

That’s exactly what happened as center fielder Shae Lang snagged a hard-hit line drive and doubled off a Lady Mustang at second base, sealing Coahoma’s 3-1 victory.   

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FEATURE: Stephenville sprinter Cameron hoping to keep streak going at state

Victoria Cameron hasn’t been beaten to the finish line this year in the 100 and 200.  

That the Stephenville sophomore is undefeated in the sprints heading into Thursday’s Class 4A state meet isn’t a surprise to Cameron’s coach.  

Jeremiah Butchee has worked with plenty of prolific track athletes during his career. What makes Cameron special is that she has one of the best starts out of the blocks Butchee has ever seen.  

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FEATURE: Comanche decision to lean on freshman pitcher is paying off

The impromptu meeting came on the Saturday morning of Comanche’s tournament in Clifton.

Roland Silva was contemplating who to start in the circle against Gatesville when a small group of Maidens approached the softball coach.  

“A couple juniors and seniors came up and said we enjoy getting a shot to pitch, but we’re a much better team with Riley in the circle,” Silva recalled. “I told her, ‘These girls are depending on you.’ We’re a much more confident team with her out there.”   

That was the day when Comanche went from having a pitching rotation to leaning almost solely on Riley Riordan. The freshman hasn’t disappointed as she’s posted a 13-6 record with a 2.88 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 116.1 innings while batting .463.  

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FEATURE: Aggressive, care-free Coleman softball team proving to be a difficult foe

Photos courtesy Coleman softball parents and Kathy Turner of Coleman Today News

Saturday was a missed opportunity for Coleman’s softball team.  

With a chance to win the District 6-2A title outright, the Bluekatts suffered a lopsided loss against Eldorado.  

But second-year coach Cody LeCroy looks at the situation as a learning experience for a youthful Coleman squad that has unlimited potential. After all, when you start more freshmen than seniors, you’re bound to have a couple hiccups along the way.  

“You don’t want to lose by any means. I told them, remember this feeling, it’s not a good feeling,” LeCroy said. “Remind yourself how much harder we have to work and how important the little things are.”  

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FEATURE: Pandemic couldn’t halt progress for Jim Ned sophomore Saling

His favorite sport was on hiatus. His freshman track season was on the verge of being canceled before it even really began.

But that didn’t keep Jim Ned’s Chris Saling from pounding the asphalt once a week, timer in hand.

When the UIL halted athletics last spring because of COVID, Saling still made it out to the track on days the Indians had meets scheduled. He detailed his progress in the 400, 800 and 3,200 meters by recording his times and sending them to coach Dustin Todd. 

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FEATURE: Rapidly improving Clyde softballers get boost from Puryear, Kirksey

Photos by Seth Larue

It took almost until mid-April for Clyde’s softball team to reach a winning record.  

But there aren’t many area softball teams currently more dangerous than the Lady Bulldogs, who have grown tremendously over the past two months.   

Senior Paige Puryear and junior Maddi Kirksey are two reasons why Clyde is surging. Puryear has gotten comfortable in the circle, while Kirksey is a dependable catcher hitting a blistering .672. Puryear isn’t too far behind, batting .557 from the leadoff spot.  

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FEATURE: Sweetwater multi-sport star Foster finds stride on track as one of area’s top hurdlers

To trace the origin of Harrison Foster’s breakout in track, one must look back months ago to Sweetwater’s football season.

Foster emerged as a key player for the district champion Mustangs, catching 10 touchdowns and becoming the team’s second-leading tackler on defense.

“The success I had during the football season brought me with more confidence, and I started believe that I can do more than I thought I could,” Foster said. “With the success we had during football, it brought our team a lot closer. Especially with all the multi-sport athletes, those relationships can carry over and start us off on a good note.”

Foster’s 2020-21 athletic season has a chance to end on a great note as the junior is one of the Big Country’s top hurdlers. Foster owns the area’s top time in the 300-meter hurdles (39.96) and has also run a sizzling 15.12 in the 110 hurdles.

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FEATURE: TLU-bound Tomlinson and McIrvin give Stephenville a dangerous 1-2 punch

Kaida Tomlinson and Katie McIrvin are the first two batters in Stephenville’s softball lineup.  

The seniors are also Nos. 1 and 2 on the Honeybees’ defense as Tomlinson has taken over pitching duties and McIrvin starts at catcher.  

Stephenville’s top players will also be linked once they graduate this spring with both heading to play college softball at Texas Lutheran.  

But Tomlinson and McIrvin aren’t quite done leaving an imprint on the Honeybees’ program as they push toward a playoff spot in Parker Smith’s first season as head coach.  

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FEATURE: Anson’s Gallentine crashes through the 40-foot barrier in shot put

Meadow Gallentine felt confident before last week’s District 10-2A Meet.  

But even the Big Country’s top thrower was a little surprised when she surpassed the 40-feet mark, reaffirming her chances of making a trip to Austin next month.  

“When I hit 40 feet, it was such a surreal feeling,” Gallentine said. “I couldn’t believe it. I remember telling my teammates that I had it in me to throw 40 at that meet.”  

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FEATURE: Jones’ difficult journey serves as an inspiration for Eula and beyond

Eula baseball coach Tanner Thompson wasn’t alone Monday morning once he pulled up to the high school baseball field.  

About 10 Pirates hung around the diamond at dawn taking batting practice. It wasn’t a coincidence Cameron Jones’ pickup truck was parked close by, his headlights providing illumination until the sun came up.   

“He has an immediate impact on all the other kids,” Thompson said of Eula’s lone senior. “He shows these kids that if you do work hard, you can get where you want to be.”  

Where Jones is these days is starting at catcher and hitting in the No. 2 hole for the Pirates. But it’s the journey that Jones took to get there that makes his story the most powerful.  

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FEATURE: Brock boys track team off to record-setting start

Records have been falling on a consistent basis for the Brock boys track team as a couple relays and two individuals have looked in peak form heading into this week’s district meet.  

It started with the quartet of Eli Potts, Luke Dillingham, Kutter Wilson and Cash Jones running a 42.06 in the 400-meter relay and a 1:28.68 in the 800 relay at the Peaster Meet two weeks ago.  

Potts also set the Eagles’ long jump record at that meet with a distance of 22 feet, 3 inches. Then junior Nathan Jones got into the action Thursday in Springtown, breaking the school’s shot put and discus marks.  

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McGehee to leave Sweetwater for Magnolia West

Sweetwater is in the market for a new athletic director and head football coach now that Ben McGehee is taking over the program at Class 5A Division I Magnolia West.  

McGehee finished with a 23-21 mark in four seasons leading the Mustangs. Sweetwater made the playoffs on three occasions, bowing out to Celina 37-22 in the area round to cap off an 8-2 mark in 2020.  

McGehee, who couldn’t be reached for comment, took over the Mustangs’ program a couple months after Shane Mobley led Sweetwater to the 2016 Class 4A Division II title game. Sweetwater compiled a 10-3 record in his first season, then followed that up with 1-9 and 4-7 marks.   

Continue reading “McGehee to leave Sweetwater for Magnolia West”

FEATURE: May, Sterling City brace for rematch in state title game

When May lost narrowly lost to Sterling City in the second week of the regular season, coach Craig Steele didn’t really imagine he’d see the Eagles three months later in a much bigger setting.  

Steele believed his Tigers had a chance to have a special year. He also felt that Sterling City was a top contender in its region.   

“But there’s so much season left, and you don’t know about injuries and things that can go wrong,” Steele said. “They’re good enough to get there, but there’s lots of good teams in the west. And I thought we could be good enough, but there’s lots of good teams in the east.”  

Continue reading “FEATURE: May, Sterling City brace for rematch in state title game”

FEATURE: Shift to the outside proving to be a good move for Withers, Stephenville

Photos courtesy of Stephenville High School 

Stephenville’s volleyball team took a major step forward by sweeping Brownwood on Friday night.  

The 16th-ranked Honey Bees not only avenged their only district defeat, but also accomplished one of their goals in winning the 6-4A title.  

Landri Withers has been an integral part of Stephenville’s success once again in 2020, but this time the junior has been making the biggest impact as an outside hitter.  

Stephenville coach Shay Douglas said she changed her standout player’s role for multiple reasons that are beneficial both now and in the future.

Landri Withers
Landri Withers
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FEATURE: Impact senior Warren out to finish Clyde career in style

Peyton Warren’s name is synonymous with Clyde volleyball.  

The Lady Bulldogs’ program began eight years ago. Warren, who’s finishing up a stellar senior season, has been starting for half of that stretch.   

As the curtain draws near on her final high school volleyball career, Warren admits there’s a different feeling now than in previous seasons. 

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FEATURE: Cooper seniors out to finish strong, set new standard for volleyball program

Jennika Willis always feels there’s a sense of urgency to win when she walks on the volleyball court.  

But like her fellow Cooper senior teammates, Willis recognizes the days of playing high school volleyball are dwindling.  

“It is our senior year, so we definitely want to be more dominant as a senior class,” Willis said. 

Willis and the Lady Cougars are off to a strong start in that respect, jumping out to a 5-3 mark entering Tuesday’s road match against Granbury. They only have one more week until District 4-5A action commences.  

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GAME STORY: No. 2 Hamlin shuts out fourth-ranked Windthorst, remains unbeaten

WINDTHORST — Second-ranked Hamlin finally had to play four quarters Friday night.  

After stonewalling No. 4 Windthorst multiple times in the red zone, the Pied Pipers walked away with a hard-earned 14-0 road victory.  

Hamlin’s defense enters District 5-2A Division II action having allowed only three touchdowns in five games, but this one was different because there was little room for error in a showdown of regional favorites.  

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FEATURE: Lightning-quick Benitez is one of Big Country’s top defenders

Photos courtesy of Kassi Westerman

Abby Benitez owns all the traits needed to excel at libero.

The Snyder junior is described as fearless and determined by her high school coach. She’s unbelievably quick and a 5-foot-1 ball of energy.   

“She doesn’t like to get beat on anything,” Snyder coach Mindi Bredemeyer said. “She’s definitely not a quitter, she doesn’t have it in her to quit at all.”  

It’s no fluke Benitez is one of the Big Country’s top defenders, averaging an area-best 5.8 digs per set. Her presence is needed even more this year after the Lady Tigers were hit hard by graduation.  

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FEATURE: Stephenville’s Matthews has worked her way into being one of the area’s top players

From the moment she showed up at Stephenville last year, Jaylee Matthews hasn’t shied away from putting in work.

As a then-sophomore moving from Seminole, Matthews knew the Honeybees’ program was steeped in tradition. Floor time would be earned, not given.   

“I showed up every day and worked hard to prove myself,” Matthews recalled. “I would say I fit in pretty good with the team now, and these girls have become some of my best friends.”  

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FEATURE: Sweetwater volleyball odyssey beyond Bell’s experience

Although only in her second year at Sweetwater, Mitzi Bell has been coaching volleyball for almost a quarter century.  

However, no previous experience could have prepared her for what has been a rollercoaster 2020 campaign. From impressive summer workout numbers to then losing senior setter Mia Valdez for extended time due to injury.  

From finally playing matches that count to having nine players quarantining after a positive COVID-19 case. From orchestrating sub-varsity workouts in separate gyms to Saturday when all the Lady Mustangs were finally on the same court. 

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FEATURE: Bangs standout Jacee Miller cleared to return for Lady Dragons

Photo courtesy of Heather Nix Photography

Jacee Miller isn’t used to watching the action from afar.   

The Bangs junior is a four-sport standout who has been on varsity since she began high school. Miller never leaves the floor for the Lady Dragons’ volleyball team.  

But after snapping her fibula and tearing a ligament during a summer trip to the beach, the vocal Miller has been forced to do all her encouraging and observing from the sidelines.  

“It’s a very different perspective,” Miller said. “Watching my team grow and watching its up and downs has helped me see what I can do when I come back.”  

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: C-City sophomore was on the verge of making Big Country splash

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15.

Will Maddox was excited after his first round of high school golf this spring.

The Colorado City sophomore fired a 79 at Brownwood’s The Hideout Golf Club, marking the first time he’d broken 80 in tournament action.

That also would be Maddox’s final round representing the Wolves in 2020 as the UIL shuttered the spring season soon after.

However, the pandemic hasn’t kept Maddox from honing his craft. In fact, he noted having an extended downtime has benefitted his golf game.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Hawley’s do-it-all Leathers may have been area’s top utility of 2020

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Breanna Leathers’ versatility and dependability were a comforting combination for Hawley’s Maci Clayton.

The first-year coach not only started the aptly named Leathers in center field, but she was the Lady Bearcats’ second pitcher to Caitlin Crow.

Because of that, Leathers didn’t see much time at shortstop, but that change didn’t keep the junior from being unprepared.

Continue reading “WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Hawley’s do-it-all Leathers may have been area’s top utility of 2020”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Minus their senior seasons, three Lady Lions will press on with their track careers

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

The Brownwood girls track team didn’t shy away from lofty expectations this year. 

Aleyia Cotton, Trinity Jackson and Alyssa Couey competed at the sport’s grandest stage in 2019 and expected to qualify for state again.

While they didn’t get to finish their senior seasons, the trio of Lady Lions can take solace in the fact they’ll be competing at the next level together.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Even Albany’s Faith is in uncharted territory during pandemic

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Albany’s Denney Faith is used to recognizing a challenge and then tackling that task head-on.

You don’t win 307 football games and get a field named in your honor without thriving in adverse situations.

But nothing in Faith’s first 33 years as the Lions’ head football coach could have prepared him for the uncertainty of leading an athletic program in the middle of a pandemic.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: New Dublin facilities and spring momentum will have to wait

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Bob Cervetto is patiently awaiting a return to normalcy.

Dublin’s athletic director and head football coach misses the hectic spring sports season. He misses watching his athletes competing and working out daily.  

“It scares me to death because you never know where your kids are going to be,” Cervetto said. “I’m just like every other coach in the state — I hope they are doing something.”

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Young Ballinger team was hoping for prolific 2020 season

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Photos courtesy of  Chad McDufee, Dana Travis and Don Pena

Fantastic.

That one word is how Ballinger softball coach Missy Vaughn described the Lady Cats’ 2020 season before it was prematurely ended.

Vaughn’s seniors had thrived in their leadership positions. Even after junior pitcher Daniella Luna suffered a season-ending knee injury, freshman April Pena had stepped up admirably in her place. 

Sophomore catcher Jenna Battle and her teammates were ripping the cover off the ball. Other underclassmen had emerged as Ballinger won nine of its first 13 games and was undefeated in district.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Middleton, Comanche boys golf team lose shot at state

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

This spring was supposed to be Kasey Middleton’s fourth trip to the state golf tournament as he hoped to bookend his high school career with a second title.

It was supposed to be Bryce Hermesmeyer’s triumphant return to golf after missing last year with a shoulder injury.

And with a couple freshmen helping step up and a low score of 316 despite playing in only three tournaments, it was supposed to end with a second state berth in three years for Comanche’s boys golf team.

But before the Indians could find a groove, their promising season came to an end after the COVID-19 pandemic altered the University Interscholastic League high school sports landscape. That’s hard for Comanche golf coach Richard Pringle to stomach.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Hawley powerlifters see state meet dreams unfulfilled

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Hawley’s powerlifting program produces state champions seemingly every year.

While nothing is ever guaranteed in the sport, juniors Kolter Willeford and Bo Thompson were ready for their chance to continue the Bearcats’ winning tradition.

Thompson had won the 275-pound weight class at regionals by 125 pounds after totaling 1,675 pounds in his three lifts. Willeford’s super heavyweight total of 1,775 pounds included an 800-pound squat and was 150 clear of second place.

But their dreams of gold will have to wait another year after the Texas High School Powerlifting Association’s state meet was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Roscoe track joins long list of promising teams crushed by UIL cancellation

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

March 7 was a banner day for Roscoe’s boys track team.

The Plowboys captured gold in all three relays, while Jaythan Coale won the 200 and nearly matched the school record in the pole vault.

After beating bigger schools like Wall and Bangs, Roscoe celebrated its team title from the Bluebonnet Relays by dining at Brownwood barbeque staple Underwood’s before enjoying a jubilant bus ride home.

That would be the last time the Plowboys competed in 2020. While Friday’s UIL announcement officially ended any hopes of spring high school sports occurring, Roscoe coach Ryan Dillon said he told his guys on March 17 their season was all but over.

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