Here are the Big Country’s receiving leaders through Week 9:
GRANBURY — Cooper quarterback Aidan Thompson had himself a night Friday in a 69-7 win over Granbury, completing 13 of 16 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns to push the Cougars to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in District 3-5A Division I.
The senior also added a 15-yard rushing touchdown as CHS built a 45-0 halftime lead it would increase to 62 points before the Pirates finally got on the board in the fourth quarter.
COOPER (2-1, 1-0) AT GRANBURY (2-2, 1-0)
7 p.m. Friday at Pirate Stadium, Granbury
Last season, in Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year Dillon Davis and then-junior Brady Miller, the Cooper Cougars had one of the best cornerback tandems in the state.
That left some big shoes to fill when Davis graduated last spring and moved on to Midwestern State University and Miller was shifted to safety this fall out of necessity.
But through Cooper’s first three games — a road loss to Odessa Permian (47-35) and home wins over Abilene High (30-20) and Justin Northwest (54-21) — an inexperienced group of corners has more than held its own for coach Aaron Roan and Cougars. And while those guys aren’t putting up the eye-popping interception numbers that Davis and Miller did, their steady play has quickly earned them the respect and confidence of their teammates and coaches.
The Cooper volleyball team took care of business Tuesday, cruising to a workmanlike 25-19, 25-14, 15-17 sweep of Lubbock High at Cougar Gym.
Needing a win to stay within a match of Tuesday’s Lubbock Cooper-Wylie winner in the District 4-5A standings, the Lady Cougars took control early and never relinquished it in improving to 8-5 overall and 2-1 in league play.
Cooper running back Noah Garcia needed just four carries to eclipse the 103 yards necessary to pass Mike Rose as the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher Friday at Shotwell Stadium, setting the tone for a banner night in a 54-21 district-opening win over Justin Northwest.
The senior standout finished with 260 yards and four touchdowns on just 23 attempts to fuel the Cougars, who scored the final 30 points to turn a three-point game in the third quarter into a blowout victory.
JUSTIN NORTHWEST (2-1, 0-0) AT COOPER (1-1, 0-0)
7 p.m. Friday at Shotwell Stadium, Abilene
Cooper running back Noah Garcia has learned not to make plans in 2020.
In a year where virtually nothing’s been normal and change has been one of very few constants, experience has taught him the disappointment that doing so can bring.
But needing just 103 yards to overtake Mike Rose as the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher, the standout senior is hoping to reach that total sooner than later. After seeing his final high school campaign nearly lost to a once-in-a-century pandemic and having his final game against crosstown rival Abilene High taken from him by COVID-19 protocols, he doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.
Numbers alone don’t always take our Big Country Preps Player of the Week award, though they are usually the top consideration.
When things get close among the top candidates, other factors begin to weigh in. That was precisely the case with this week’s top spot, which goes to Anson junior quarterback Blake Vinson.
Vinson, who hit 23 of 32 passes for 367 yards and four scores in a 41-34 win over Stamford, had two factors in his favor that made his effort a bit more noteworthy than some of the area’s other top performances last week.
With just four of 11 starters back from a unit that forced more than four turnovers per game in 2019, the Cooper defense was bound by logic and the realities of high school football to take a step backward in 2020.
Add in a once-in-a-century pandemic that cost all Class 5A and 6A schools their spring and much of the offseason, and the Cougars’ odds of repeating last year’s success were only further diminished.
But if you think the Cooper defense has allowed any of those circumstances to serve as an excuse to accept that outcome, you’d be sorely mistaken. And through two games against Class 6A competition, that group has already proven it will once again be a force most opposing offenses will find unpleasant to deal with.
The Wylie football team has had to cancel its next two games due to instances of COVID-19 within the program, removing Friday’s crosstown matchup with Cooper and the Bulldogs’ Oct. 16 homecoming game against Amarillo Palo Duro from the team’s schedule.
According to the district, two players and one coach tested positive for coronavirus, and a number of other players were in close contact with individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19.
“We continue to remain focused on the health and safety of our students and staff and are following the UIL protocols along with our state and federal guidelines,” said Wylie officials in a statement released by the school district. “The Taylor County Health Department will notify all students and staff who may have been affected and we will continue to monitor the situation and give any updates as needed.”
Wylie, which is off to a 2-0 start, will return to the field on Oct. 30 when it opens District 3-5A Division II play at Wichita Falls Rider. The Bulldogs’ home opener will now be delayed until Nov. 6, when they host Canyon Randall.
Wylie was to be the final nondistrict opponent for Cooper (1-1), which will now be idle this week unless a replacement game is sought and found. The Cougars will open District 3-5A Division I action Oct. 16 at home against Justin Northwest.
Jennika Willis always feels there’s a sense of urgency to win when she walks on the volleyball court.
But like her fellow Cooper senior teammates, Willis recognizes the days of playing high school volleyball are dwindling.
“It is our senior year, so we definitely want to be more dominant as a senior class,” Willis said.
Willis and the Lady Cougars are off to a strong start in that respect, jumping out to a 5-3 mark entering Tuesday’s road match against Granbury. They only have one more week until District 4-5A action commences.
Playing without star running back Noah Garcia, who was unavailable for Friday’s Crosstown Showdown, the Cooper Cougars would need a complete team effort to get past Abilene High.
Fortunately for CHS coach Aaron Roan, he got just that from his squad, which outscored AHS 17-6 over the final two quarters to claim a 30-20 victory in the 60th playing of the crosstown rivalry.
Quarterback Aidan Thompson gave the Coogs (1-1) their first lead of the game with a 1-yard sneak in the final minute of the third quarter, and linebacker Jacob Deax put the game on ice with a 53-yard fumble return touchdown with 47 seconds remaining in the game.
ODESSA — The Cooper football team got off to a fast start and finished strong in Friday’s season opener against Odessa Permian, but 21 points off turnovers proved too much to overcome in a 47-35 loss to the Panthers.
After falling behind 14-0 on a pair of Aidan Thompson touchdown passes, Permian used two pick-sixes and a fumble return touchdown to take a 41-21 lead into halftime, before holding off a Cougar rally in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
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.
As a third-year starting quarterback, Cooper senior Aidan Thompson has played a lot of football. With four offers to play collegiately, he has more to look forward to.
But after having his final high school campaign threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cooper standout isn’t thinking about his future or the past. The present is all that matters.
When the Cougars kick off their season Thursday at Odessa Permian, Thompson will begin a senior campaign he wasn’t even sure he was going to get. And his only priority now is making the most of whatever time he has left with his CHS coaches and teammates.
The senior-laden Cooper volleyball team showed its maturity Tuesday, sweeping crosstown rival Abilene High on its home floor to stay perfect at 4-0.
The Lady Cougars, who have yet to drop a set this season, got off a to a dominant start, winning Game 1 by a 25-9 margin before grinding out a couple of 25-23 wins in the final two games to close out the match in three.
After being overwhelmed in the early going, the much younger Lady Eagles (1-3) rebounded to challenge CHS, but each time the Lady Coogs needed a point, they got it — a trend coach Nora Campbell attributed to her team’s experience.
Opening its season against a Clyde squad that already had 14 matches under its belt, the Cooper volleyball team was tested early in Tuesday’s nondistrict showdown at Cougar Gym.
But the veteran Lady Cougars proved up to the challenge in a 25-23, 25-21, 25-13 sweep of the Lady Bulldogs.
Ending a long wait after the start its season was delayed a month by COVID-19, Cooper shook off any ring rust quickly, finding its offensive rhythm in the Game 3 to put the match away in style.