Category: Baird Bears

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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BREAKING: Baker leaving Baird after two seasons

Joel Baker announced his resignation as the head coach and athletic director at Baird High School on Wednesday after accepting a job as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Springlake-Earth earlier in the day.

The decision to leave the Bears, who won the independent six-man state championship last fall, did not come easy for Baker. The veteran coach did say that he was making the move for his family, though.

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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. 

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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. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Stamford’s Price missed his chance at attendance perfection

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.

Those who follow Big Country high school athletics are likely familiar with the name of Trace Price — first as a Baird High School multi-sport standout. Then, as a starting quarterback and All-Big Country Preps basketball player as a senior at Stamford this school year. 

They will soon know him as a tight end on the Abilene Christian University football team when he suits up for the Wildcats this fall. 

Behind the scenes, however, Price was quietly on course to do something remarkable when the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented in March by the UIL. From pre-kindergarten to the point of the lockdown, he had never missed a single day of school — not one. 

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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.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Baird’s top-ranked vaulters will have other opportunities

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.

Baird’s Rylan Rogers and Carsann Baker were the top-ranked pole vaulters in Class 1A through mid-March. Even though both had visions of winning a state championship in May, they figure to have other opportunities after spring sports were canceled this year.

Rogers, a Baird senior, plans to vault collegiately for McMurry’s NCAA Division III track and field program. Baker, a junior, hopes for a normal 2021 track and field season at Baird High School.

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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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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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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 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. 

GAME STORY: Eula escapes Baird with district-clinching win

BAIRD — When perennial power Eula came to Baird on Friday with a No. 7 statewide ranking and a 24-5 record, few gave the upstart Bears, with three players overcoming illnesses, much of a shot. 

By evening’s end, however, the Pirates were counting themselves as fortunate to escape with a 58-47 win and Eula coach Josh Fostel was pleased to see his top-seeded crew get a much-needed challenge. 

Jayton Jones scored 21 points, including six 3-pointers and David Phillips dropped in 18 more to lead Eula (25-5, 9-0 District 20-1A), which locked up the district title with the win. 

Baird (15-6, 7-2), which whittled a 27-point first-half deficit to only four by the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter, was led by Max Dayton with 13 points and Aaron Halburton with 11. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Priddy’s Evans takes award after leading Lady Pirates to district title

While the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches does not have the Priddy girls basketball team ranked at the moment, the Lady Pirates (20-7, 11-0 District 17-1A) are making enough noise to get noticed. 

And with last week’s sweep of Lometa (51-29) and Cherokee (59-52), it’s beginning to look as though PHS is capable of doing some postseason damage. 

Our Player of the Week, senior Linda Evans, led that charge with a combined 60 points through two games, including a 36-point effort with four assists in a district-title clinching win over Cherokee. 

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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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BIG COUNTRY BOYS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Jan. 23)

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. 23)

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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BCP Podcast No. 78: Eula’s Josh Fostel talks Pirate hoops with Evan, Daniel

Under longtime boys basketball coach Josh Fostel, the Eula Pirates have been among the best and most consistent Class 1A programs in the state. And EHS, which reached the state semifinals in 2007 before winning the state championship in 2011, has another strong team this year, sitting at 19-6 after routing Moran on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Fostel took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s team, its 62-56 upset of Class 4A Brownwood last week and the program he’s built for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss some of the biggest boys and and girls basketball storylines of the season so far.

BIG COUNTRY BOYS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Jan. 16)

Each Thursday at 7 p.m., Big Country Preps will publish area boys basketball statistical leaders.

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. 16)

Each Thursday at 7 p.m., Big Country Preps will publish area girls basketball statistical leaders.

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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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.

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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! 

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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.

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BCP Boys Basketball Position Rankings: Posts

After spotlighting the Big Country’s top guards and forwards the past two nights, it’s time to 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 posts with others to watch for the 2019-20 season.

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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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: San Saba QB O’Keefe runs way to honor

San Saba senior Sean O’Keefe wasn’t fully needed through much of an 8-0 start that saw the Armadillos rout one team after another and consistently pull their starters early. 

In Friday’s district title game against Crawford, however, the Tulsa-bound signal caller had a full opportunity to shine in a 48-28 win over Crawford — the closest game the Armadillos (9-0) have had this season, by far. 

Rushing 21 times, O’Keefe piled up 364 yards on the ground, finding the end zone four times in the process to earn our Big Country Preps Player of the Week honor and lock up the District 7-2A Division I championship in his final home game.

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BCP SIX-MAN SPOTLIGHT: Baird Bears embracing, adjusting to new challenge

BAIRD — Baird High School spent 97 years playing 11-man football before the decision was made in late June to play an outlaw six-man schedule this year due to being in between UIL realignments.

That change has paid immediate dividends for the 5-2 Bears.

“It brought us some energy because you have to do your homework,” Baird coach Joel Baker said. “We did our homework this summer and we visited a lot of people to find out how to do (the transition) right.”

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Coahoma to receive huge test from Idalou (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 34-9, .790

OVERALL: 251-51, .831

There comes a point when every emerging football program has to show its hand. And it’s usually around the midpoint of the season when we can differentiate between who has a full house and who’s holding a pair of deuces. 

The Coahoma Bulldogs (4-1) will reach that point this Friday when they host perennial toughie Idalou (3-2) in our Big Country Preps Game of the Week. 

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EVAN REN: High school athletics has forgotten itself

What is the purpose of interscholastic athletics? It seems silly to even pose the question.

I bring it up because within the word purpose lies the problem — a poisonous problem, brought on by our own lack of vision.

Must I say it?

The original purpose behind high school sports was the teaching of teamwork, work ethic, sacrifice, respecting authority, overcoming adversity and accepting discipline.

Sports taught our kids that the world wasn’t perfect. It taught our kids that there would be disappointments to endure. It taught them the benefits of hard work and we hired our coaches accordingly. 

Somewhere along the line we injected winning into the mix and it has resulted in something truly ugly.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Hawley’s Marshall runs away with award

There are great games, and then there are those that border on insanity.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a misprint: Hawley’s Colton Marshall tallied 516 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in last week’s 73-20 win over Windthorst. 

If that isn’t scary enough, he did it on just 12 carries and was pulled from the game three plays into the second half. 

I’ve seen six-man players tally numbers like this on a fairly regular basis. But six-man is a different game with more field space between the players. To see an 11-man player do something like this is unreal.

Is he the Big Country Preps Player of the Week? Uh … that’s a rhetorical question. 

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