Category: Abilene High Eagles

GAME STORY: Centennial rides big fourth quarter to 24-14 win over Abilene High, ends Eagles’ run in I-5A DI semis

ARLINGTON — The Abilene High football team saw its surprising playoff run come to an end Friday, falling 24-14 to Burleson Centennial in a wet Region I-5A Division I semifinal matchup at Choctaw Stadium.

Despite a tough offensive night on which they were limited to just 169 yards and five first downs, the Eagles found themselves tied with the Spartans 7-7 after three quarters of play. But Centennial scored 17 consecutive points to start the final period, taking advantage of a pair of AHS fumbles — one it returned for a touchdown — to finally put away coach Mike Fullen’s squad.

The flexbone-based Spartans (12-1), who overcame a red zone fumble on their final possession of the first half, finished with 235 yards of total offense, achieving their big fourth quarter despite a modest offensive output of just 64 yards in the second half.

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FEATURE: Abilene High’s ‘surprising’ run to region semis a product of program’s process, tradition

Of all teams still playing in the Texas high school football playoffs, Abilene High would likely be considered one of the bigger surprises .

Closing the regular season at 4-6, as the No. 4 seed out of District 2-5A Division I, the Eagles weren’t a popular pick to make a deep playoff run. 

But after dominating good teams from El Paso Del Valle (42-14) and Red Oak (35-0) to earn a Region I-5A DI semifinals matchup with Burleson Centennial on Friday, coach Mike Fullen’s squad finds itself in the third round of the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Abilene High’s 2020 squad, like this one, entered the playoffs with a modest record and found its stride later in the year — following a path to postseason success that Fullen has embraced during his time as the Eagles head coach.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wylie QB Long leads another thrilling comeback to claim award

With the Wylie football team’s season on the line, facing a 40-30 deficit with less than six minutes remaining, the Bulldogs needed an epic comeback to rally past Colleyville Heritage on Friday at Grapevine’s Mustang-Panther Stadium.

Fortunately for coach Clay Martin’s squad, their senior quarterback has made a habit of leading those this year.

After throwing just his sixth interception on a fourth-down play midway through the final quarter, KJ Long was given new life when his defense forced and recovered a quick fumble. He made the most of it by leading a pair of quick scoring drives — the last to put the Bulldogs 43-40 with three seconds left on the clock — to fuel his team to a wild 50-40 area-round win and earn this week’s Big Country Preps Player of the Week award.

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GAME REPORT: Abilene High dominates on both sides of the ball in area-round rout of Red Oak

MANSFIELD — The Abilene High football team dominated Red Oak in every way imaginable Friday, routing the Hawks 35-0 in an area-round matchup at Newsom Stadium to earn a Region I-5A Division I semifinals date with Burleson Centennial next week.

The Eagles, who advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the second time in the past three years, outgained Red Oak 472-82, rushing for 413 yards to the Hawks’ 58 in a thorough beating.

Red Oak managed just four first downs against the Abilene High defense, which forced seven punts and a turnover on downs while adding an interception for good measure.

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FEATURE: Outside linebackers Johnson, Davila setting tone for stifling Abilene High defense

In the Abilene High defense, few players play more important or diverse roles than the outside linebackers.

Those who fill this hybrid position in the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme may find themselves rushing the passer like a defensive end on one play, setting the edge on an outside run the next and dropping into pass coverage the play after that.

With so many responsibilities, those players must be strong enough to shed blocks, fast enough to run down ball-carriers and intelligent enough to know their duties on every play. Fortunately for the Eagles and unfortunately for their opponents, AHS’ current outside backers — seniors Kenneth Johnson and Zak Davila — are all of those things and up to any task asked of them.

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GAME STORY: Cisco girls open Pug Parris Classic with win over Cooper

Kyla Speights gave the Cooper girls basketball team a 3-0 lead early against Cisco as both teams began the Pug Parris Classic at Cougar Gym on Thursday night, but the Lady Loboes rebounded quickly on their way to a 52-34 win.

Braley Brunson and Brooklyn Hurtado led Cisco with 16 and 11 points, respectively, while Speights’ 14 points led the Lady Cougars.

Having scrimmaged each other already, both coaches knew what they would get from the other squad.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Comanche QB snags this week’s accolade

With standout running back Sawyer Wilkerson getting much of the media attention in 2022, the Comanche Indians have been receiving efficient, under-publicized play from the quarterback spot through much of a 10-1 record. 

Last week was perhaps the best example of that, with junior signal caller Layden Welch torching Henrietta with an 11 of 16 passing performance for 248 yards and five TDs in a 69-27 win. 

But that’s just the beginning. 

Welch also rushed 11 times for 65 yards and two scores. He gathered five solo tackles, four assisted stops, forced a fumble and deflected a pass to help CHS advance to the area round. 

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CLASS 4A/5A BI-DISTRICT REPORT: Big Country teams combine to go 6-1 in strong opening-round showing

REGION I-4A DIV. I

Big Spring 38, El Paso Riverside 35 — The Steers pulled out and absolute thriller over the District 1-4A DI champion Rangers, scoring the winning points on a wild fourth-and-10 play with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game.

Quarterback Gavin Padron, who passed for 230 yards and three touchdowns, evaded multiple sack attempts with some creative scrambling in the backfield before heaving it up running Kavien Ford in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown hookup. That ended a back-and-forth that saw three lead changes in the final 15 minutes.

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GAME REPORT: Abilene High goes on road to dominate Del Valle in playoff opener

EL PASO — Facing off with an El Paso Del Valle squad that had outscored its opponents 455-119 on its way to a 9-1 regular-season record, the Abilene High football team flipped the script on the Conquistadors in Thursday’s Region I-5A Division I bi-district game at Conquest Stadium.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles exploded for 21 points in each of the next two periods to take a 42-0 lead on their way to a dominating 42-14 victory.

Abilene High limited the Del Valle offense, which came in averaging more than 400 yards per game, to just 290 total yards — most of which came after the Eagles had already increased their lead to six touchdowns. AHS, meanwhile, put together its most explosive offensive performance of the season, piling up 421 yards in 54 plays with near perfect balance run to pass.

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Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Position Rankings: Posts

After highlighting the Big Country’s top guards and forwards the past two nights, we now take a look at the area’s best big men.

For the final installment in our three-part boys basketball position rankings series, we rank the Big Country’s top 10 post players.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through our rankings, and make sure to check back for all our boys and girls basketball coverage this season.

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GAME REPORT: Abilene High volleyball downs El Paso High to reach Region I-5A tournament

MIDLAND — The Abilene High volleyball team extended its best season in more than a decade into the Region I-5A tournament Tuesday with a 25-20, 16-25, 25-17, 25-21 win over El Paso High in a region quarterfinal match at the McGraw Event Center.

The Lady Eagles, who are making their first playoff appearance since 2015, improved to 19-20 with the victory, which earned AHS its first region tournament trip since 2007.

Coach Caroline Cleveland’s team will now play North Richland Hills Birdville in the I-5A semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lubbock Coronado for a chance to play the winner between Lubbock Cooper and Colleyville Heritage in the region title match on Saturday.

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Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Position Rankings: Guards

With boys basketball season beginning this week, it’s time to shine a spotlight on some of the players you’ll be reading about throughout the 2022-23 season.

For the first installment in a three-part series that will cover all positions on the area boys basketball scene, we’ll be taking a look at the Big Country’s top guards, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this winter.

We hope you enjoy reading through our list.

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FEATURE: Run to third round has reenergized Abilene High volleyball program back on the map

Sitting at 7-14 on Aug. 30 and in the midst of a five-match losing streak, the Abilene High volleyball team was likely an unpopular pick to be the last of Abilene’s three large high schools standing come playoff time.

But a lot can change in more than two month’s time, particularly when dealing with a hungry young squad.

All the Lady Eagles have done since then is win 11 of their last 17 matches, including playoff victories over Amarillo Tascosa (25-27, 25-15, 25-22, 25-23) and El Paso Hanks (25-22, 20-25, 25-15, 12-25, 15-6) to return to the region quarterfinals for the first time since 2007 — when current head coach Caroline Cleveland just so happened to be leading AHS on the court as a senior.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wylie safety Wright takes top honors with three fourth-quarter picks

If it’s true that big-time players make big-time plays in big moments, few had a stronger claim to that “big-time” title this past week than Wylie sophomore Hayden Wright.

The Bulldogs free safety not only came through with three interceptions in his team’s 20-10 District 2-5A Division I title-clinching win over crosstown rival Cooper, he recorded all three picks in the fourth quarter as Wylie was trying to hold off a late Cougar rally.

For that effort, which saw him snatch his fourth, fifth and sixth interceptions of the season, the young playmaker has been named the Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the week ending Nov. 5.

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. I WEEK 11 REPORT: Tascosa wraps up first outright title since ’88; Amarillo High clinches playoff spot

Amarillo Tascosa 35, Lubbock Coronado 14 — The Rebels closed out a perfect run through district play with a comfortable win over the Mustangs to claim their first outright district title since 1988.

Tascosa (9-1, 6-0) gained 352 yards, all on the ground, building a 21-7 lead by halftime. Tayden Barnes rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the Rebels, while Treshun Wilson added 101 yards and two scores.

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Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Position Rankings: Posts

After focusing on the top guards and forwards the Big Country has to offer the past two nights, it’s time to shift our attention to the paint.

For the final installment in our three-part position rankings series, we list our top-10 post players for the 2022-23 season.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through these rankings, and make sure to come back next week when we’ll feature the top boys basketball players in the Big Country.

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Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Position Rankings: Forwards

After kicking off our girls basketball position rankings series with the guards on Tuesday, we now turn our attention to the forwards.

For the second installment in our three-part series, we rank the area’s top 10 players at that position with some others to watch for in 2022-23.

We hope you enjoy our list.

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Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Position Rankings: Guards

With the girls basketball season upon us, it’s time to take a look at the local and area players who will be making the biggest impact for their teams during the 2022-23 season.

For the first installment in a three-part series that will cover all positions, we’ll be focusing on the Big Country’s top guards, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this season.

As with any such list, these rankings are subjective. We hope you enjoy reading through our selections.

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. I WEEK 10 REPORT: Eagles fall at Amarillo High; Tascosa tops Cooper for league’s No. 1 seed

The Eagles dropped a tough one in Amarillo, seeing a 7-3 halftime lead evaporate in a one-score loss to the Sandies.

Abilene High (4-6, 3-3) outgained Amarillo High 314-201, limiting the Sandies to just 77 rushing yards, but the Eagles found themselves down 17-7 in the third quarter despite this. Coach Mike Fullen’s team pulled within a touchdown on Tristen Hall’s 26-yard field goal with 8:42 remaining in the game and had multiple chances down the stretch to tie the game, but couldn’t.

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GAME STORY: Sandies prevent Abilene High from clinching No. 3 seed

AMARILLO — The Abilene High football team entered Friday’s District 2-5A Division I game against Amarillo High wanting to stay healthy, but also needing a win to lock up the No. 3 seed for the playoffs.

While they came out of the game without any significant injuries, the Eagles limped to the finish line with a penalty-riddled 17-10 loss to the Sandies at Dick Bivins Stadium.

AHS committed 11 penalties for 91 yards, often negating big plays ill-timed flags — an aspect coach Mike Fullen said was key to the outcome of the game.

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FEATURE: O-line development has Abilene High offense peaking at right time

Coming into the season, Abilene High coach Mike Fullen knew his offensive line would be a work in progress. After graduating the bulk of his talent from that position group last year, he was going to need some upperclassmen to emerge as leaders and some younger guys to step up and produce on the field.

It has taken some time and more personnel combinations than some teams will use in two or three seasons, but the Eagles have finally found a winning mix up front.

And with his team preparing for its regular-season finale Friday at Amarillo High, Fullen couldn’t be prouder of the work that group has put in or the progress it has made to get where it currently is.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Zephyr running back brings home Player of the Week honors

With some people projecting Zephr as an underdog in last week’s game with Sidney, very few people were expecting ZHS to provide us with the Big Country Preps Player of the Week.

Nonetheless, here we are.

Zephyr senior running back Jayden Millican takes the spotlight after rushing for 285 yards and six touchdowns in a 68-20 win over over Sidney. But he wasn’t finished there.

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. I WEEK 9 REPORT: Abilene High, Tascosa and Cooper further separate themselves with wins

Abilene High 35, Lubbock Coronado 14 — The Eagles used a dominating defensive effort and a strong running game to overwhelm the Mustangs, building a 35-0 fourth-quarter lead before CHS finally got on the board with a pair of scores in the final five minutes.

AHS (4-5, 3-2), which clinched a playoff berth with the victory, outgained Coronado 279-185, limiting the Mustangs (2-6, 1-3) to one first down and minus-14 yards in the first half.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High clinches playoff berth with dominating performance against Coronado

The Abilene High football team rode another dominating defensive effort to another impressive home win, routing Lubbock Coronado 35-14 on Friday at Shotwell Stadium to clinch its third consecutive playoff berth.

The Eagles, who held the Mustangs to one first down and minus-14 yards of total offense in the first half, built a 35-0 fourth-quarter lead before finally surrendering their first points in their third consecutive home victory.

AHS, which was celebrating Senior Night, improved to 3-0 in district games at Shotwell and 4-1 overall at home, pushing its season record 4-5 and its District 2-5A Division I mark to 3-2.

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