Category: Abilene High Eagles

BCP Podcast No. 100: Evan, Daniel discuss Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (Part 2)

Like most followers of Texas high school football, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood are big fans of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.

After using this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the publication’s projections on the area’s Class 1A-3A teams, Evan and Daniel discuss Texas Football’s forecast for the Big Country’s Big Schools in this week’s podcast.

FEATURE: Local coaches relish getting back with student-athletes

“It won’t be totally normal but we can get back to playing Friday night football, which is the goal. If we are playing Friday night football, all the other sports are going to be playing too. The main goal is to get to the fall.”

Those words came directly from the mouth of Abilene High football coach Mike Fullen on Monday afternoon after the Eagles wrapped up their first full day of strength and conditioning workouts earlier in the day following the state mandated shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’ve been playing, they’ve been swimming and they’ve been slamming up against each other, but we’ve got certain things that we have to adhere to,” Fullen said. “That’s their personal deal but if we don’t adhere (to guidelines), we could get shut down.”

The University Interscholastic League allowed schools to begin strength and conditioning workouts on June 8 and Wylie took full advantage of that opportunity. Meanwhile, Abilene High and Cooper each used two days last week as orientation to train student-athletes for how to enter campus.

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EVAN REN: We’re pushing ahead at Big Country Preps — getting the the ball rolling

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” — John Lubbock

My business partner, Daniel Youngblood, is the king of not worrying.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

If NASA were to announce that an asteroid impact was imminent in 15 minutes and that Abilene would be at ground zero, anything beyond a shrug of the shoulders from Youngblood would surprise me. Of course, I wouldn’t be there to see it. I’d be 25 miles down the road with the accelerator smashed to the floor, one hand on the steering wheel and a rabbit’s foot in the other.

The recent turmoil in the world has put both of our natures on display — him letting it all roll off his back and me, well … being me.

If fate allows it, a return to normalcy is the objective here and the sooner the better. As the designated worrier at Big Country Preps, I’ve been on pins and needles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive social unrest created by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And let’s just call it what it was — a murder.

That said, I’m currently doing my best to steal a page from the Youngblood stress-free handbook and turning my attention from our tumultuous, viral-plagued world to something I can understand: football. That means that heading into the summer months, we’ll be diving headlong into our previews for the upcoming season.

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EVAN REN: We can all use some good news and football can provide some of it

In a world that has seemingly gone mad, I’ll take any dose of good news that I can find — even if it’s mundane.

The stock market inched up a half point? I’ll take it. We can go back to worrying about COVID-19? I’m all-in. The buildings in Abilene are still standing? That’s a check mark in the plus column. 

So how do we get there? 

How do we reestablish normality? 

Aside from the obvious fact that we need to stop the ongoing mayhem that is plaguing our society, getting back to common things we all hold dear will set the foundation for healing. And I’m talking about the simplest of pleasures, from peaceful walks in the park, shopping in a mall, going to the movies or attending a sporting event. 

In Texas, the latter cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to football. 

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EVAN REN: 10 things I’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic

I’ve always held to a personal axiom that perspective is everything. True or not, how we view a situation becomes the truth in our minds.
There’s no escaping it and every one of us has our own perspective

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have changed my perspective in several ways on several different things. And for a middle-aged guy who is pretty well set in my ways, this is like the planets aligning.

I’ve managed to list my top 10 takeaways from lockdown, as they pertain to this website and what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Let’s dive in: 

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EVAN REN: UIL announcement promising, but are we out of the woods just yet?

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
— Elbert Hubbard

 In a Tweet released earlier today, the University Interscholastic League announced that it is actively working to allow schools to begin limited summer strength and conditioning and marching band activities on June 8. 

The mere sight of this announcement had me on the verge of challenging my 55-year-old frame to do a cartwheel for which it is ill-prepared to attempt. Because frankly, Texas without high school pigskin is like Texas without oxygen. 

The thought of its absence has been too bitter to contemplate. And in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve allowed myself to go down one rabbit hole after another — trying to discern information from disinformation, and political rhetoric from that which is concrete. 

Continue reading “EVAN REN: UIL announcement promising, but are we out of the woods just yet?”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: AHS star Washington left quite an impression on coach, program

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.

Abilene High softball coach Jim Reese considers shortstop Alyssa Washington a once-in-a-career type player. 

And with a multi-decade coaching tenure that started on the baseball diamond and included a stretch with longtime major leaguer John Lackey, that’s no faint praise.

So to watch the future Texas Longhorn see her time at Abilene High cut short in the midst of a truly remarkable senior campaign was one of the tougher things Reese has had to do as a coach. And though he’s happy that Washington will get to continue her career in Austin and certain she’ll find success at the next level, he can’t help but wonder what the standout might have accomplished had her season not been derailed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

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EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
— Voltaire 

There’s a barbeque place near my home that I don’t like. In fact, I seldom go there — deliberately bypassing it whenever the BBQ craving hits me in favor of better choices. 

But Friday, after two months of COVID-19 exile, I decided to make a quick run to bring home some brisket for the wife and I and elected to go to the very place I try to avoid because it was convenient. 

Funny how one’s perspective can change while in isolation.

Abilene’s worst barbeque was suddenly good. In fact, it was beyond good. It was like freakin’ nirvana. 

I suspect that’s the way it’s going to be with virtually everything I had taken for granted before the lockdown. And I’m already experiencing some of it.

Continue reading “EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 shutdown just latest challenge for AHS ace Salazar

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 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

While she had been on varsity since she was a freshman and was good enough last year to earn All-Big Country Preps honors as a third baseman, Abilene High senior Aubrianna Salazar considered this to be her year.

Standout pitcher Kaylen Washington, who had led the Lady Eagles to the Region I-6A quarterfinals in 2018 and an undefeated run through District 3-6A in 2019, graduated last spring, handing Salazar the staff ace title in addition to her existing roles at the hot corner and in the middle of the Lady Eagles batting order.

The future Hardin-Simmons Cowgirl had reached her senior year, and it was her time to shine.

But after having her final high school season staggered by a knee injury scare in the offseason and a foot injury that cost her eight games from late February to early March, Salazar could do little but sigh when it was a global pandemic that may have finally landed the knockout blow to her AHS career.

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Evan Ren’s 2020 Gym Rat Team: The hardest workers in the Big Country

Scoring and rebounding is only part of the story when it comes to basketball. Behind the scenes and beyond the view of the public, is where character is often measured. And it is with our Big Country Preps Gym Rat Team that we salute the individuals who exude the most of it. 

This team isn’t about who the best players are, though some of the area’s top players are on this list. 

The Gym Rat team is about effort, discipline, toughness, coachability and selflessness — traits that coaches love above all else and that championship foundations are built upon.

It is for that reason that our Gym Rat team is selected entirely by area coaches, described in their own words. And Big Country Preps is absolutely honored to present these individuals to you — the best “team players” (boys and girls) that the area had to offer during the 2019-20 season.

Players are listed in no particular order. 

Enjoy.

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All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Superlatives: Brewer, Medina, Lenard head of 2020 class

Here are our superlative award winners for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: First-Team Roster

Here are our first-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: Second-Team Roster

Here are our second-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Superlatives: Galvin sisters, Gonzales take top spots

Here are our superlative award winners for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: First-Team Roster

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Second team starters and reserves

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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EVAN REN: Big Country baseball, softball hit hard during corona outbreak

Come springtime, I’ve always been a big baseball and softball guy, which makes my current life in exile all the more difficult. 

With the entire country on a virtual lockdown and me stuck in my office until further notice, I can’t help but be torn between doing what’s right and thinking about what has been lost. 

Globally, very few will escape the coronavirus outbreak without being affected in some way, shape or form. But on a personal level, it means contemplating the loss of one great season after another. Barring a sudden turnaround, hundreds of irreplaceable memories that could have been, will simply never materialize.

So, am I of the opinion that the rest of the athletic competition for this school year will be lost?

SIGH … I hope I’m wrong. But yes, I believe it’s over.

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FEATURE: Senior-led AHS, Wylie softball teams still hoping to finish what they’ve started

In a way, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis has put everyone on equal footing. Life has effectively been put on hold for adults and students alike, and the only certainty for either group is uncertainty.

This reality has hit close to home for veteran coaches Heather Collier and Jim Reese, whose Wylie Lady Bulldogs and Abilene High Lady Eagles have, in less than two weeks, gone from district title hopefuls to just hoping for a chance to take the field again in 2010.

Like all softball teams in the state of Texas, Wylie and Abilene High are in a holding pattern, adhering to the University Interscholastic League’s suspension of all sanctioned sports, which was extended from March 29 to May 4 on Thursday. But with senior-led teams that were off to outstanding starts, the waiting game’s a little extra painful for Collier and Reese.

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LOCAL SOFTBALL ROUNDUP: Cooper routs Wichita Falls to open district, AHS wins again

WICHITA FALLS — The Cooper softball team opened District 4-5A play in dominant fashion Tuesday, routing Wichita Falls High 12-2 in five innings to improve to 8-4 on the season.

With the game tied at 2 after one inning, the Lady Cougars exploded for four runs in the second inning and five in the third before putting the run-rule into effect with one in the top of the fifth.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Multi-talented AHS star Roberson takes top spot

Abilene High junior Trakenya (KK) Roberson is probably best known for her work on the basketball court, where she’s been weaving through defenses for one layup after another since she was a freshman. 

But this speedy standout’s skills aren’t confined to the hardwood. She’s also an excellent softball player where she serves as a starting outfielder and leadoff hitter for the 15-4 Lady Eagles.

Last week, she put her many talents on display in leading AHS to four wins in six games, earning Big Country Preps Player of the Week honors in the process. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Clyde’s Turner takes top spot with two perfectos

In a week that saw a ton of noteworthy performances, Clyde’s Kaitlyn Turner earned the top on our list. 

Aside from a sterling effort at the plate that saw the senior pitcher finish 9 of 15 with three home runs, nine RBIs and nine runs scored, she saved her top efforts for the circle.

There, she charted two perfect games, the first of which occurred in a 14-0 win over Lubbock High on Feb. 28. A day later, she delivered another in a 10-0 win over Brownwood. 

She struck out 23 batters in just 10 innings of work during the no-nos, both of which ended in the run rule. 

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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Utility Players

After recognizing the Big Country’s top pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders, we wrap up our baseball position rankings series with the area’s multi-position standouts.

For the final installment in our five-part series, we take a look at the top utility players, ranking our top-six with others to watch in 2020.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through these lists and are as excited as we are that baseball season is underway.

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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Outfielders

For Day 4 of our five-part baseball position rankings series, we focus our binoculars on the outfield grass.

After highlighting the Big Country’s top pitchers, catchers and infielders earlier this week, we now do the same with the area’s best outfielders, ranking our top 10 with others to watch in 2020.

We hope you enjoy our list.

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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Infielders

After ranking  the top pitchers and catchers on the Big Country baseball scene the past two nights, we now turn our attention to the infield.

For the third installment in our five-part position rankings series, we list our top-10 infielders in the area with a list of others to watch in 2020.

We hope you enjoy reading through our rankings.

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GAME STORY: Arlington Lamar puts clamps to Abilene High, ends Eagles’ season

MINERAL WELLS — The pressure got to the Abilene High boys basketball team Tuesday in the Eagles’ playoff opener against Arlington Lamar. But not the kind one might think.

Coach Justin Reese’s team showed up focused and ready to play, staying within a bucket of Lamar into the final minutes of the first half. But the Vikings full-court pressure wore the Eagles down over time in a 60-47 win.

Lamar rode a 9-3 run late in the second quarter to a seven-point hafltime lead and expanded it in each of the next two quarters to end AHS’ first playoff season since 2017 — and best since 2016 — at 23-9.

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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Pitchers

After kicking off the spring sports season with our softball position rankings last week, it’s time to turn our attention to the the baseball field and the names we’ll be hearing and reading about throughout the 2020 campaign.

For the first installment in a five-part series that will cover all position groups on the area baseball scene, we’ll be taking a look at the Big Country’s top pitchers, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this fall.

We hope you enjoy reading through our list.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cisco’s Hearne has huge night in home finale

What better way to say goodbye to the home folks than with a career night? 

Cisco senior Gibson Hearne, who has been one of the area’s top players for the better part of two years, did exactly that last week in a 112-49 win over Comanche is the Loboes’ home finale. 

Get this: 35 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists and five steals.  

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 24-March 1)

The playoffs are here for Texas’ high school boys basketball teams and, as always, Big Country squads will have their say in how the postseason plays out.

No fewer than 44 local and area teams have qualified for the playoffs in their respective classifications, giving us plenty to talk about as bi-district play gets underway Monday night.

From here on out, it’s win or go home, and with two rounds scheduled for this week and three for next, it won’t take long to see who all has a deep run in them.

With that, let’s take a look at what this first round has to offer.  

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BCP Softball Position Rankings: Infielders

After highlighting the top pitchers and catchers on the Big Country softball scene the past two nights, it’s time to turn our attention to the field.

For the third installment in our five-part position rankings series, we list our top-10 infielders in the area for the 2020 season.

We hope you enjoy reading through our rankings.

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BCP Podcast No. 82: Evan, Daniel talk girls and boys playoff basketball

With the area girls heading into the area round of the playoffs and the boys settling their final tiebreakers to determine seeding, it’s time for Evan and Daniel to take a good look around the area. 

All the top favorites, all the top surprises and what they’re up against will be this week’s topic of conversation. 

BCP Softball Position Rankings: Pitchers

With softball season kicking off this week, it’s time to learn the names of or be reintroduced to the players you’ll be reading about throughout the 2020 campaign.

For the first installment in a five-part series that will cover all position groups on the area softball scene, we’ll be taking a look at the Big Country’s top pitchers, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this fall.

We hope you enjoy reading through our list.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK Brownwood’s McCarty earns this week’s top spot

He might be better known as a football player. 

But Baylor-bound defensive back Adonis McCarty Jr. is more than capable of lighting things up on the hardcourt as well. Just ask Glen Rose and Mineral Wells, both of which were torched by the BHS senior last week. 

Averaging 25.5 points and 7.5 rebounds through two games, McCarty helped Brownwood clinch the district title with a 33-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance in a 71-67 win over Glen Rose. 

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 17-23)

It’s hard to believe, but we have reached the final scheduled date of the boys basketball regular season. After Tuesday, all that will separate us from the playoffs are a handful of seeding games and coin flips.

But while most Big Country districts have already crowned their champions, plenty of intrigue remains heading into this final night of district games.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s top matchups and outcomes last week’s key results.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Fourth-quarter woes doom AHS boys in loss to Trinity

EULESS — Playing Euless Trinity on Friday with a chance to clinch at least a share of the District 3-6A championship, the Abilene High boys basketball team suffered a disappointing setback in its final game of the regular season.

Leading 31-28 at halftime and 42-40 after three quarters, the Eagles were outscored 22-9 over the final eight minutes to fall 62-51 for just their second district loss of the season.

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FEATURE: Abilene High’s McGee stepping out of brother’s shadow, into spotlight

As a seventh-grader in 2016, Abilene High point guard Jalen McGee got to watch his brother, Calvin, lead the Eagles to a 31-5 record and a district championship in his final high school season.

With a win Friday at Euless Trinity, the younger McGee and his AHS teammates would get to celebrate the school’s first district title since then.

That feat would add yet another parallel between the high school careers of the McGee brothers, who bear their share of similarities — both in playing style and achievement. But as inevitable — and, to a certain degree, flattering — as the comparison is, Jalen would just as soon be judged on the merits of his own play.

The junior standout, who like his big brother made the Eagles varsity as a freshman, has been working since then to make his own name at Abilene High. And much of the success of the 2019-20 AHS squad, which enters Friday’s matchup at 23-9 overall and 10-1 in District 3-6A play, can be attributed to the strides McGee has made in that pursuit.

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BCP Podcast No. 81: Evan, Daniel talk Ballinger boys hoops with coach Jamal Anene

In his four years as Ballinger’s boys basketball coach, Jamal Anene has built the Bearcats into a consistent playoff team. The same is true this year of BHS, which enters a big game Friday against San Angelo TLCA at 23-8 overall and 8-2 in District 4-3A.

Earlier this week, Anene took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this season, his goals for the program and his unique background for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the end of the girls basketball regular season and some of the biggest storylines in the final week of boys district games.

GAME STORY: Abilene High boys, girls sweep Weatherford on Senior Night

It took the Abilene High boys basketball team a little while to find a rhythm Tuesday against Weatherford’s zone defense. But once the Eagles got going, points came in bunches in a 72-29 win at Eagle Gym.

Leading just 10-6 after a quarter and 24-13 at halftime, AHS exploded for 29 points in the third quarter to run away from the Kangaroos for a blowout victory on Senior Night.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Priddy’s Evans takes award after leading Lady Pirates to district title

While the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches does not have the Priddy girls basketball team ranked at the moment, the Lady Pirates (20-7, 11-0 District 17-1A) are making enough noise to get noticed. 

And with last week’s sweep of Lometa (51-29) and Cherokee (59-52), it’s beginning to look as though PHS is capable of doing some postseason damage. 

Our Player of the Week, senior Linda Evans, led that charge with a combined 60 points through two games, including a 36-point effort with four assists in a district-title clinching win over Cherokee. 

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