Category: Albany Lions

BCP COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Albany Lions

Football is fast approaching, 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 Friday, 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. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Roscoe on Friday, we move to  District 8-2A Division II with the Albany Lions. On Sunday, we will take a look at the Cross Plains Buffaloes, followed by the Hico Tigers on Monday.

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BCP Podcast No. 99: Evan, Daniel discuss Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (Part 1)

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 receiving their copies on Monday, the duo used this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the publication’s projections on the area’s Class 1A-3A teams. In Part 2 next week, Evan and Daniel will discuss Texas Football’s forecast for the Big Country’s Big Schools.

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. 

Continue reading “EVAN REN: We can all use some good news and football can provide some of it”

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: 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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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)”

BCP Podcast No. 89: Albany’s David Fairchild talks COVID-19 shutdown with Evan, Daniel

After leading his team to state tournament appearances in 2017 and 2019, Albany baseball coach David Fairchild may have had his best squad yet this season. But after starting 7-0, the second-ranked Lions had their season shut down by the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Tuesday, Fairchild joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to talk about this year’s team, how he’s handling the COVID-19 shutdown and what he’s hoping will happen over the next couple of months. 

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Co-aces West, Neve had Albany poised for state tournament return

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.

After leading the Albany baseball program to its second state tournament appearance in a three-year span last season, Lions coach David Fairchild didn’t have to squint too hard to envision a similar run this spring.

The 27-year coaching veteran had graduated just three seniors from last year’s 23-8 squad and was returning a pair of pitching aces in senior Ben West and junior Cade Neve.

Those realities — and the 7-0 start to which they heavily contributed — have only made things more difficult for Fairchild and his Lions since their season was halted in its tracks by the COVID-19 outbreak and the University Interscholastic League’s related decision to suspend all sanctioned activities in mid March.

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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: Albany’s Hebel picks up where she left off before ACL injury

Photos by Rose Hebel

Albany softball player Elia Hebel has returned and is reportedly as strong as ever after missing the entire 2019 season because of an ACL injury, surgery and six-month rehabilitation process.

She slugged eight hits in nine official at-bats, plus four intentional walks, last weekend while leading the Class 2A Lady Lions to a runner-up finish in the Stephenville Honeybee Classic, which was filled with Class 3A and 4A teams. Veteran Albany coach Jimmy Fuentes said Hebel is batting around .600 during the Lady Lions’ 6-3 start this season.

Also last fall, the 5-foot-10 Hebel committed to play NCAA Division I softball at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette — even though she’s still a junior at Albany High School.

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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: 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: Stamford girls advance to first regional tournament

Describing how she felt was hard for Stamford girls basketball coach Missy Dutchover on Tuesday night after her squad earned its first ever regional tournament berth with a 49-39 win over Albany at Hardin-Simmons University’s Mabee Complex.

“It’s a little surreal right now,” Dutchover said. “I’m really proud of my kids. We talked really big about taking advantage of your opportunities because you don’t know when you’re going to get them again.”

Sophomore guard Tylee Jo Bevel had a game-high 16 points for the Lady Bulldogs and was equally speechless as Stamford gets ready to face No. 3 Gruver in Friday’s Region I-2A semifinals at 8 p.m. at South Plains College in Levelland.

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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Catchers

After opening our baseball position rankings series with the pitchers on Monday, it’s time to shift our attention to their battery mates.

For the second installment in our five-part series, we celebrate the Big Country’s top catchers, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch in 2020.

We hope you enjoy our list.

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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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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: Utility Players

After recognizing the top pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders that the Big Country softball scene has to offer, we close our position ranking series with a celebration of versatility.

For the final installment in our five-part series, we take a look at the top utility players, ranking our top-six multi-position standouts.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through these lists and encourage you to come back next week when we’ll feature the top baseball players in the Big Country.

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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. 

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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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.

BIG COUNTRY GIRLS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Feb. 7)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

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BIG COUNTRY BOYS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Feb. 7)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

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UIL hands out its share of surprises to area schools (w/ five video interviews)

ABILENE — The University Interscholastic league released its new athletic districts for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years on Monday. 

As always, a sizable contingent of area coaches was on hand at the Region 14 Education Service Center to receive their information packets and arrange for any last-second schedule changes that were forced by realignment. 

Perhaps the biggest stunner was a move north by Class 2A Division I power San Saba, which has been shifted to the new District 4 with Cisco, Coleman, De Leon, Goldthwaite and Winters. 

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If you’re not subscribed at Big Country Preps yet, here’s what you missed last month …

If you’re not subscribed at BigCountryPreps.com yet, this is what you’ve missed over the past month:
— 16 player features,
— On-site coverage of 18 of the area’s top games
— Boys and girls stat leaders (updated weekly)
— Area standings (updated twice weekly)
— Columns
— Our All-Big Country Preps football teams
— Evan Ren’s Big Country True Grit Football Team
— Four BCP Players of the Week
— Breaking sports stories. 
For as little as $3 per month you can gain access to the most comprehensive coverage of high school football, basketball, baseball, softball and track in the Big Country. 
We have three low subscription options for you to choose from — monthly, semiannual and annual — with prices that always stay the same. No sign-up gimmicks here.  
Here’s a look at the entirety of our January coverage (plus links):

Continue reading “If you’re not subscribed at Big Country Preps yet, here’s what you missed last month …”

BIG COUNTRY BOYS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Jan. 30)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

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BIG COUNTRY GIRLS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Jan. 30)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

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