Category: Area football

SIGNING DAY: Weather spoils several signing ceremonies, but Signing Day still brings recognition

Eastland’s Behren Morton isn’t the only current Big Country high school athlete moving on to the next level. 

A number of others joined him in making their collegiate commitments during National Signing Day on Wednesday. Though Morton is only a junior, his highly publicized verbal commitment to Texas Tech on Oct. 15 headlines the current crop of Big Country athletes who will be seen on collegiate playing fields in the near future. 

There are several other notables, beginning with Brownwood senior receiver/defensive back AJ McCarty, who is heading to Baylor, San Saba quarterback Sean O’Keefe, who is heading to Tulsa and Early high jumper/hurdler Trinity Tomlinson, who will compete for the University of Texas.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

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. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BREAKING: UIL announces new districts for 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years (five videos attached)

The University Interscholastic League announced the new athletic districts for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years Monday morning during its biennial reclassification and realignment.

Here are all the football and basketball districts including schools in the Big Country Preps coverage area. 

Continue reading “BREAKING: UIL announces new districts for 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years (five videos attached)”

FEATURE: Stephenville, Hodges build detour to success after losing McClendon

STEPHENVILLE — Coming off a sophomore campaign that saw her earn all-state honors from the Texas Girls Coaches Association, Stephenville post Alee McClendon came into the 2019-20 season facing big expectations. 

And a month into the season, she was delivering on it, averaging 11.2 points and 8.2 rebounds on a balanced, talented Stephenville roster with multiple scoring options.  

Then it happened: While playing against Burnet in the third-place game of Fredericksburg’s Battlin’ Billie Classic on Dec.14, McClendon was  bumped from behind after jumping in the paint. An awkward landing resulted in a torn ACL, a partially torn LCL and additional tears on her meniscus. 

Her season? Over.

Her teammates? In stunned silence. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

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. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 77: Evan Daniel discuss Jim Ned basketball with coach Eric Phelps

Since taking over the Jim Ned boys basketball program, coach Eric Phelps has put his stamp on a program that has long been one of the Big Country’s best.

Earlier this week, Phelps joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood to discuss this year’s team, the pressure of leading one of the area’s most successful programs and his time as a Texas Tech student manager under Bobby Knight for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the retirement announcement of longtime Wylie football coach Hugh Sandifer as well as the other prominent Big Country coaches who hung up their whistles this school year.

Evan Ren’s 2019 Big Country True Grit Team: The toughest players in the Big Country!

We all know a football player who almost never misses any practice time and practically lives in the weight room. He’s always early to arrive and late to leave. He’s coachable, but seldom needs direction because he always pays attention. 

You know who I’m talking about.

The guy who sets a good example for young players. The guy who never complains and, first and foremost, is tough mentally and physically. He may not be the best player on a team (though some of them are). But he’s definitely the guy who gets the most out of the talent he’s given. 

Welcome to the 2019 “True Grit” team — the one place in the Big Country where guys who fall into this category are recognized for it.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 76: Evan, Daniel discuss All-Big Country Preps football teams, area hoops

After a two-week holiday break, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood return to the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the All-Big Country Preps football teams, released Wednesday.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel speak briefly on the Big Country hoops scene.

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

EVAN REN: Big Country Preps Top 10 Stories for 2019

It’s never easy picking the top 10 stories of the year for the Big Country Preps coverage area. 

Stretching from Forsan in the west to Brock in the east and from San Saba in the south to Munday in the north, there are literally thousands of athletes producing countless stories to choose from. 

Pairing all of that down to just 10 examples forces one to leave out several notable options on a yearly basis. The upside of all this is that the area is never short on quality stories to reflect on. 

So as we say goodbye to the year 2019, we salute those local athletes and coaches who produced yet another memorable year for the entire area. 

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top stories from last year, in descending order:

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Running hoops tournaments can be a hassle, but the reward can benefit an entire town

ANSON — It could be said that a well-run high school basketball tournament is an event where the organizers aren’t noticed at all. One that operates so smoothly that the only thing people have to worry about is basketball. 

Behind the scenes, however, is a busy contingent of volunteers, working to see that all the square pegs find the square holes. It’s not as easy as it looks, and the level of difficulty can be even higher for lesser-known events.

Last week, for example, multiple tournaments were played throughout Texas, including large events in Eula and Brownwood. But under the radar, a nine-year-old event in Anson — The Lions Club Holiday Tournament — battled its way through some last-minute changes to secure another successful conclusion. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Lady Tigers, Roby, Roscoe advance to semis in Lions Club event

ANSON — A little extra defensive intensity and much better offensive execution after the break helped the Anson Lady Tigers to a 39-23 win over De Leon and a first-place finish in Pool A of the Anson Lions Club Tournament on Friday. 

Gracie Feagan scored 16 points and Valerie Fells added seven more to lift Anson (15-3), which advances to the semifinal round where it will meet Roscoe at 8:30 a.m. Childress and Roby will meet in the other girls semifinal at 11:30 — both games will be at AHS’ primary gymnasium.  

The winners will converge to play for the tournament championship at 6 p.m.  

On the boys’ side, three cancellations from Hamlin, Richland Springs and Vega (the first two due to extended  football seasons), cut a 12-team round robin to just nine, forcing some last-minute changes in the schedule. 

Gunter, Wellington and Post advanced as the pool winners and will play a three-team round robin for the title on Saturday. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

AP ALL-STATE: Cooper’s Davis, Hawley’s Marshall headline area honorees

Cooper defensive back Dylon Davis and Hawley running Colton Marshall headlined a list of 48 Big Country players to earn all-state designation from The Associated Press Sports Editors last week, garnering player of the year honors for their respective classifications.

Davis, who led the state in interceptions this season with 16, was the defensive player of the year in Class 5A, while Marshall, a 3,500-yard rusher, was named Class 2A’s top offensive player.

Those two, who both led their teams to deep playoff runs, were among a group of 11 local or area players to earn first-team accolades, while the Big Country accounted for 15 second-team spots and 26 honorable mention nods across the five 11-man classifications.

Continue reading “AP ALL-STATE: Cooper’s Davis, Hawley’s Marshall headline area honorees”

EVAN REN: Hamlin will fully appreciate its state experience

While sitting in the postgame news conference following Hamlin’s 25-20 loss to Mart on Thursday, I half expected the Pied Pipers to arrive with coach Russell Lucas barely able to speak. 

They had just given the defending state champions all they wanted and could very well have dethroned the Panthers, had it not been for four turnovers. They had every reason to show up stone-faced and heartbroken — like so many other losing teams at state we’ve seen in the past.

That’s understandable. 

Nobody goes to state with the goal of finishing second. And after 16 straight weeks of sweating blood, it’s difficult to get your emotions to turn on a dime. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

SIDEBAR: Hamlin leaves it all on the field in state title game loss

ARLINGTON — Leading Hamlin in its first state championship game against a Mart squad that was making its 12th state appearance, coach Russell Lucas just wanted his Pied Pipers to block out all external noise and be themselves.

If it could play loose and with poise, as it had done in building a 12-2 record and earning Thursday’s historic opportunity, Lucas was confident his team could compete with the two-time defending champion Panthers.

The Pipers did all these things Thursday in a game that was tight to the finish. And though they came out on the losing end of a 25-20 slugfest, they left with their heads held high, knowing that the game was decided by their execution between the lines and not outside factors in a moment that was too large for them.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Hamlin’s title chance slips amid four turnovers in loss to Mart

ARLINGTON — While prepping for Thursday’s Class 2A Division II state championship game against Mart, Hamlin coach Russell Lucas cited limiting big plays, winning the turnover battle and blocking out distractions as the top keys for the Pied Pipers to dethrone the defending state champions. 

As it turned out, Hamlin achieved every key but one — losing the turnover battle (4-0) and eventually, the game, falling to Mart 25-20 at AT&T Stadium. 

Roddrell Freeman rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns and Klyderion Campbell rushed for 60 yards and added a pick-six to lead Mart (13-3), which claimed its third straight state title with the win. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP PLAYOFF FORECAST: Can the Pipers stop Mart from a three-peat? Big Ev makes his pick

LAST WEEK:  0-2, .000

OVERALL: 486-97, .834

Picking .834 for the season but missing both state semifinal selections is akin to batting .400 for the year but striking out twice with the bases loaded in the seventh game of the World Series. 

Well …. not exactly. But you get my point.

What can I say? After being on fire for 14 straight weeks, this column has hit a late-season slump, going 3-5 over the last two weeks and whiffing twice in the state semis. Nonetheless, I’ve got one more game to pick and it’s a biggie. 

The Hamlin Pied Pipers (12-2) will square off with perennial powerhouse Mart (12-3) for the Class 2A Division II state title, officially closing the books on the best picks season I’ve ever had.

That said, let’s dive in.

Here’s this week’s forecast and we’ll see you in Arlington.  

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 75: Evan, Daniel talk state title game with Hamlin’s Russell Lucas

During his time at Hamlin, coach Russell Lucas has built the Pied Piper football program into one of the most successful consistent in all of the Big Country. But before this season, he had never coached a team in a state title game.

That will change Thursday when the Pipers take on Mart for the Class 2A Division II championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Earlier this week, Lucas took some time to talk with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about his team’s historic run and the challenges his Pipers will face in Arlington for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel close the book on Brock’s football season and talk some local hoops.

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW: Hamlin’s state newcomers challenge Mart’s ‘Jerry World’ vets

HAMLIN — In the 1986 motion picture “Hoosiers” there is a memorable scene in which coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) uses a clever tactic to help his small-town team overcome their feeling of “awe” after arriving at a huge basketball venue.

Taking out a tape measure, Dale instructs some of his players to measure the distance from the baseline to the free throw line and from the floor to the rim. The measurements, of course, were 15 and 10 feet, respectively.

“I think you’ll find these are the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory,” Dale says, making the point that the game is unchanged by all of the fancy surroundings.

Thursday morning at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, a group of green-clad people from Hamlin will meet on the field, where coach Russell Lucas will try to make a similar point. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Strong effort nets Brownwood senior the top spot

In a week that saw several top-flight performances, Brownwood senior Zach Strong handed in a genuine rarity — topping the 1000-point mark for his career while helping the Lions to a perfect record and tournament championship. 

Helping Brownwood to a 5-0 record on the week, including a tournament title in Hamilton, Strong averaged 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to earn all-tournament honors and our final Big Country Preps Player of the Week award of 2019.

Continue reading “BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Strong effort nets Brownwood senior the top spot”

EVAN REN: Hamlin, Lucas have earned their time in the sun

Everyone who regularly attends sporting events loves the sights, the sounds and the smells associated with simply being there. We soak it all in, take the images that are most notable, then splash them on to our memory like a fuzzy Leroy Neiman painting.

But imagery isn’t what keeps us coming back. That’s just the icing.

It’s the drama surrounding athletics that draws us in like a magnet. The human stories behind each team, each player and each coach are what capture our imagination and inspire us to root for one side, even if we have no vested interest in the outcome. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Brock drops heartbreaker to Pottsboro in 3A state semis

FRISCO — For the second consecutive year, the Brock Eagles stood at the doorstep of a Class 3A state title game, only to have the welcome mat yanked from beneath them in gut-wrenching fashion.

Friday, the Pottsboro Cardinals did the dirty deed by way of a 36-35 win in a game for the ages at the Ford Center at the Star. An offensive battle that saw only two punts all night – one by each team – ultimately came down to a gem of a defensive play. Eagle running back Cash Jones’ “jump ball” pass to quarterback Jaxon Gleaton was picked off by Pottsboro’s Tyler Farris in the end zone with 45 seconds left, thus ending Brock’s season at 12-3. The Cardinals improved to 15-0 and will play the winner of Grandview and Columbus in the title game at AT&T Stadium next week.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Hamlin routs Stratford to earn first state title game appearance

PLAINVIEW — When Hamlin and Stratford met the first time this season in a late September nondistrict game, the result was a forgettable one for the Pied Pipers. But the HHS players made sure to remember how they felt at the end of that 39-6 drubbing.

Playing the Elks again in the Class 2A Division II semifinals, the Pipers reversed that outcome Thursday night, riding a flawless start to 56-23 win that was even more dominating than the 33-point margin might suggest.

The victory, which improved Hamlin to 12-2 on the year, has the Pipers in their first state title game in school history — realizing a goal the HHS seniors set for themselves in junior high.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 74: Evan, Daniel talk state football semifinals and area hoops

In this episode, Daniel and partner Evan Ren discuss last week’s playoff football results, this week’s state semifinal matchups involving area squads and some Big Country hoops. 

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

FEATURE: With playmakers galore, Hamlin QB Warner may be an overlooked gem

It’s hard to imagine a third-year starting quarterback on a state semifinalist Texas high school football team being overlooked. Especially when his offense is averaging 47 points and 388 yards per game. And especially when he has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,212 yards and 29 touchdowns against only four interceptions.

But that may be the case with Hamlin’s Braydin Warner.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Merkel’s Pursley earns this week’s top spot

It’s one thing to play great against teams from your own classification. But when one plays at a high level against programs much larger than his or her own, it tends to grab everyone’s attention. 

Merkel senior guard Kaydi Pursley, who has already been on the media’s radar for more than two years, may have just upped her assessed value even more (if that’s possible). 

Purlsey, who helped the Lady Badgers to a 4-1 mark last week, including a 3-1 finish at the Granbury tournament, put up big numbersagainst some big schools along the way to earn our Big Country Preps Player of the Week award. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us