Category: Baird Bears

BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Jim Ned, Snyder clash in battle of unbeatens (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country picks)

LAST WEEK: 36-16, .692
OVERALL: 163-46, .779

After four straight weeks of picking 80 percent or better, the USS Ren ran aground last Friday, bottoming out with a season-low .692 percentage and dropping my season tally to .779.

I generally like to be above 80 percent by midseason, so last Friday served as a wakeup call. Actually, it was more of a gut punch. But I’ll get over it.

This week’s Big Country Preps Game of the Week will see me traveling to Snyder, where the unbeaten Class 4A Tigers will play host to 3A DI state champion Jim Ned in what should be an absolutely electric atmosphere. 

You all set? Let’s dive in to this week’s picks. 

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Big Country Volleyball Statistical Leaders (Through Sept. 21)

Big Country Preps is publishing area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday 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.

We will continually update the database throughout the regular season.

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Big Country Volleyball Statistical Leaders (Through Sept. 14)

Big Country Preps is publishing area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday 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.

We will continually update the database throughout the regular season.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Brady cancels, Ren goes scrambling (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 42-9, .823
SEASON TOTAL: 85-21, .801

I was very much looking forward to our Big Country Preps Game of the Week – Coleman (2-0) at Brady (2-0). Unfortunately, COVID intervened by midweek, forcing a cancellation of the contest.

On a positive note, there are several other quality games throughout the area for us to focus on, and (taking a bow) the column is already hitting over 80 percent on picks and we’re only in Week 3.

Numbers of that sort are generally reserved for Weeks 7-10, so I’m feeling pressure to keep the early momentum going.

In the absence of our Game of the Week, I’ll be heading to Cross Plains on Friday, where Haskell will be paying a visit to the Buffaloes (COVID allowing, of course).

Let’s dive in to this week’s picks:

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Stephenville play host to Sweetwater (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 0-0, .000
SEASON TOTAL 0-0, .000

At last, here we are. 

The 2021 football season has arrived, giving us a much-needed diversion every Friday night, in isolated spots all over Central Texas. As always, I will endeavor to pick the winner of all our area games, from Class 1A through Class 6A, with the top matchup serving as our Big Country Preps Game of the Week.

Our first spotlight game should come as no surprise, with long-time Hamlin coach Russell Lucas debuting as the head coach of the Sweetwater Mustangs — one of the most -storied programs in the Big Country.

Their opposition?

The Stephenville Yellow Jackets at Tarleton State’s Memorial Stadium. 

With that, let’s dive into the picks, shall we? 

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EVAN REN: The top area games worth traveling to in 2021

Every year, one of the things I look forward to most, is mapping out the upcoming football season — charting the games I believe will have the greatest impact. 

First and foremost, it’s a preseason menu for area fans who enjoy driving to some of the Big Country’s best football games on a weekly basis. Call it a football roadmap of sorts.

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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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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Clyde’s Phillips earns this week’s spotlight

In a week filled with unforgettable moments, several of our nominees handed in by area coaches could justifiably be called our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week. 

We finally settled on Clyde sophomore Payton Phillips, who stunned attendees at the Region I-3A meet by taking gold in both the long jump (18 feet, 6 inches) and the 100 hurdles (15.12) — breaking school records that were 25 and 15 years old, respectively. 

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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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BIG COUNTRY PREPS 2020 MAX EFFORT TEAM: The hardest-working volleyball players in the Big Country

Our All-Big Country Preps Volleyball team, released today, is in place to honor those who achieved the most on-court success in 2020. It is off the court, however, where character, grit and work ethic are often measured. And it is with our Big Country Preps Max Effort Team that we wish to honor those players who were the hardest-working, best teammates in the area this fall. 

This team isn’t about who the best volleyball players were.

The Max Effort team honors hustle, discipline, toughness, coachability and selflessness — traits that coaches wish every player had.

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Evan Ren’s 2020 True Grit Team: The toughest, hardest-working players in the Big Country!

Most of us know a football player who lives in the weight room, who’s always dependable and who always does what his coaches ask him. He always puts the team first. He’s early to arrive and late to leave. And he seldom needs direction because he always pays attention. 

You know the type. But you seldom hear about them, since there is no specific category to put them in and the media doesn’t recognize these qualities.

This is the guy who always sets a good example. He doesn’t complain and above all else, is tough mentally and physically. He’s not necessarily the best player on his team (though some are). But he’s definitely the guy who gets the most out of whatever talent he was born with.

Welcome to the 2020 “True Grit” team — the one place in the Big Country where guys who fall into this category are recognized for it.

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Evan Ren’s regional football projections and bi-district picks

LAST WEEK: 26-4, .866
SEASON TOTAL: 377-81, .823

Week 12 of the football season is here. And you know what that means.

The horses are at the starting gate with a finish line set up in Arlington for the state championship games.

More than 97 percent of the teams won’t make it. And by the time Thanksgiving arrives, 75 percent of them will already be finished. Such is the magnitude of our postseason.

In the meantime, hundreds of teams from Class 1A through 4A have their dreams of reaching Jerry World still intact. Classes 5A and 6A will start their postseason journeys in mid December, after having their seasons delayed by COVID-19.

That said, it’s time to choose which of our Big Country entries have the best shot of conquering their regions. Who are the favorites? Who are the dark horses? An perhaps most importantly, where are the elephants in the room — the teams from outside of our area with the most potential to spoil the Big Country’s chances?

Let’s get started, shall we?

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Hawley tangles with upstart Dragons (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country picks)

LAST WEEK: 36-12, .750
SEASON TOTAL: 152-47, .763

I have not been to Bangs for a Game of the Week since 2013 — the last time the Dragons posted more than six wins in a season and the last winning record they had prior to last year’s 6-5 mark.

That drought ends tomorrow, when I travel to BHS for an interesting showdown between the Dragons (3-0) and Class 2A Division I power Hawley (3-1).

Bangs has the better overall numbers, but Hawley has faced a slightly tougher overall schedule, making this pick a perplexing one.

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Big Country Volleyball Statistical Leaders (through Sept. 7)

Big Country Preps will publish area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday 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 PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: A switch! Due to some disciplinary moves, we’re now heading to Jim Ned!

LAST WEEK: 0-0, .000

SEASON TOTAL: 0-0, .000

After picking a career-high 83 percent a year ago, I was feeling quite self-assured and self-important at the close of last football season.

Little did I realize that a year later, I’d be happy to just to have games to pick and not care about what the percentage is.

In short, the world has dealt me a serious dose of perspective.

We have football, ladies and gents. Let’s hope a sense of normality returns with it.

At any rate, let’s take quick look at this week’s area contests.

I’ll see you on the road.

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BCP Football Preseason Position Rankings: Quarterbacks

After a week of highlighting area playmakers, we wrap up our eight-part preseason position rankings series with the Big Country’s best signal callers.

To complete our look at the area’s top players, we’ve ranked our top 10 quarterbacks with a list of others to watch in 2020.

We hope you enjoy this list and that you’ve enjoyed our position rankings as we get set to kickoff a new season.

Continue reading “BCP Football Preseason Position Rankings: Quarterbacks”

2020 DISTRICT PREDICTIONS: Evan and Daniel make their picks

Without further ado it is time for us to make our Big Country predictions, district-by-district.

This is the culmination of several weeks of research and two solid months of summertime labor, so we’re more than ready to post it. 

So dive in and study our take on the upcoming season, along with the more than 80 preseason stories we posted earlier today. Enjoy! We’ll see you on the road. 
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