Category: Albany Lions

COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Albany Lions

Football is just around the corner, and we at BigCountryPreps.com are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Saturday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 2, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2021 as part of our annual “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

We continue in Class 2A Division II with the Albany Lions. On Saturday we will take a look at the Cross Plains Buffaloes, followed by the Hico Tigers on Sunday.

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GAME STORY: Albany falls in two straight games to New Deal

SNYDER — New Deal baseball coach Jason Ybarra doesn’t believe in baseball fate. He simply believes in baseball. 

And it’s a good thing. Because the superstitious among the New Deal crowd may have believed NDHS was destined to lose after a costly seventh-inning error on a dropped popup with two outs allowed Albany to take a late 4-3 lead in Game 2 of their Region I-2A semifinal series. 

An inning later, New Deal (25-3-1) rolled the dice, took the game and the series with a 5-4 win. The victory came on the heels of an 11-4 New Deal victory in Game 1 earlier in the day at Moffett Field. 

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GAME STORY: Neve no-hits Hawley to fuel Albany to 4-0 win, series lead

When Albany pitcher Cade Neve is on, it can be a quiet day for the opposition.

Such was the case Friday afternoon at Abilene High’s Blackburn Field, where the senior right-hander pitched around four walks and a couple of errors to no-hit Hawley in a 4-0 win to open the Region I-2A quarterfinal series between the Lions and Bearcats.

Neve, who needed just 98 pitches to complete the game, was in complete control from start to finish, striking out eight Hawley batters to put his team within a win of a trip to the playoffs’ fourth round. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the same site, with Game 3 (if necessary) to follow.

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FEATURE: Neve, Chapman spearhead solid Albany pitching staff

In 2020, an Albany baseball team expected by some to make its second straight trip to the state tournament, sat idle. 

Like every other high school team across Texas, coach David Fairchild’s crew was grounded for the duration of the statewide lockdown for high school athletics due to the pandemic. 

A year later, bolstered a solid 1-2 pitching combo of seniors Cade Neve and Jackson Chapman, the Lions (20-3-1) have pushed to the 2A regional quarterfinal round where they will square off with Hawley (11-19) in a three-game series beginning at 1 p.m. on Friday at Abilene High. 

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GAME STORY: Chapman, Albany lineup strong as Lions sweep Ozona

HERMLEIGH — Jackson Chapman was sharp for five shutout innings and he got enough run support from his lineup to end his day there as the Albany baseball team run-ruled Ozona 11-0 on Friday to sweep its Region I-2A area-round series and advance to take on district rival Hawley in the third round.

The AHS starter surrendered just three hits and no walks while striking out eight to keep Ozona in check from start to finish, allowing his offense to take control with five runs over the first two innings and later put the run rule into effect with a five-run top of the fifth.

The victory followed an 8-1 win in Game 1 on Thursday, improving coach David Fairchild’s team 20-3-1 on the season.

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EVAN REN: Handicapping the boys state track meet.

Having already released our picks for the girls state track meet earlier this evening, we now present the boys event, using the same approach. 

We’ll comb through each event involving a Big Country athlete (or athletes) and assess if they are favorites, dark horses or long shots to get on the medal stand. 

Let’s not waste any time. Let’s dive in. 

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EVAN REN: Picking the favorites, dark horses and longshots at the girls state track meet

I don’t care who you are — even if you’re a non-fan when it comes to track and field. 

The excitement of the state meet in Austin will capture your attention if you catch sight or sound of it. It’s inescapable. 

And once per year, it is my pleasure to examine the multitude of Big Country athletes heading to Austin for the event and pick who we can expect to see on the medal stand from our area. 

Let’s begin with the girls side, looking at each event in which a Big Country athlete has qualified for state. 

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REGION II-2A TRACK RECAP: Haskell girls top Stamford for team title

SPRINGTOWN — The Haskell girls track team made a remarkable showing at the Region I-2A track meet Friday and Saturday at Porcupine Stadium, sweeping all three relays to run away with the team title.

The Maidens finished with 106 points to top second-place Stamford by 26 points, headlining an outstanding weekend for Big Country athletes and teams.

In all, area competitors accounted for 33 total metals and 26 state berths, with the bulk of those coming on the girls side of things. Big Country girls claimed 10 gold medals and eight silvers out of their 23 total medals.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Escalon takes this week’s accolade

Our Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the Week ending April 17 could have only been better had he thrown a no-hitter. 

Breckenridge freshman Camden Escalon came within one hit of a no-no on Saturday in an 18-0 rout of Wichita Falls City view. 

Along the way he fanned 10 hitters against only two walks to improve his personal record to 2-0 on the year. 

As a team Breckenridge enters this week at 13-6 and 6-3 in district play. 

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FEATURE: Albany’s Chapman on track despite loss of 2020 season

Photos courtesy of Albany High School student Elia Hebel

No 2020 track and field season. No problem in 2021 for Albany sophomore Cole Chapman.

Some athletes feel like they lost a year’s development after COVID-19 prematurely shut down the 2020 spring sports season. But Chapman appears to be on schedule. His top triple jump mark of 43 feet, 7 inches led the Big Country through last week’s track meets, and his best of 21-7 in the long jump ranked No. 2.

He contributes a lot of his success this spring to working on Saturdays with Albany assistant coach Ryder Peacock, a former state champion high jumper from Woodson who also competed collegiately.

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Evan Ren’s 2021 Gym Rat Team: The toughest, hardest-working teammates in the Big Country

While scoring and rebounding garner much of the attention in basketball, there are other elements, crucial to success, that seldom grab headlines. 

Behind the scenes is where character, effort and sacrifice set the foundation for teams to reach their full potential. And it is with our Big Country Preps Gym Rat Team that we salute the individuals who bring these elements to the table. 

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 outworking, outhustling and outgiving everyone around you, both on the floor and off. Hard-working, honest, selfless, tough, coachable kids are what we seek for this roster. 

A Gym Rat Team member can be your best player or the last player off the bench. But the one thing all of them bring is an uncompromisingly good attitude. 

It is for that reason that our Gym Rat Team is selected entirely by area coaches. And Big Country Preps is truly honored to present these individuals to you — the best “team players” (boys and girls) that the area had to offer during the 2020-21 season.

Players are listed in no particular order. 

Enjoy.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jim Ned hurler takes this week’s top spot

With the second-ranked Jim Ned baseball team off to a 12-0-1 start, it only stands to reason that some of the Indians will begin making appearances in this column. 

This week, Jim Ned’s Blaine Palmer has snagged our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the week ending March 13 with a two-sided performance worthy enough for a doubletake. 

To begin with, Palmer delivered five perfect innings in a 20-0 win over Brady that saw him fan 14 hitters. He followed that with four solid innings in a 13-1 win over Eastland in the Jim Ned tournament with four more Ks. 

His pitching line for the week: nine innings, one hit, 18 Ks, no walks and no runs allowed.

Oddly enough, his pitching performance was so good, it nearly overshadowed a red-hot week at the plate that saw him finish a combined 7 of 10 with a double, two triples and seven RBIs. 

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