Category: Early Longhorns

COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Early Longhorns

Football is just around the corner, 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 Saturday, 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. 2, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2021 as part of our annual “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

Today, we stay in Class 3A Division I with the Early Longhorns. On Thursday, we will take a look at the Jim Ned Indians, followed by the Wall Hawks on Friday.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned hangs on to edge Early 3-2

BROCK — In the old days, it may have called a white knuckler — a stressful situation where failure simply wasn’t an option.

Yet that’s what Jim Ned reliever Blaine Palmer faced with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning — asked to protect a 3-2 lead over Early in a one-game 3A regional quarterfinal. 

Palmer overcame an early rush of nerves and delivered a game-clinching strikeout of Early’s Riley Hill to send the Indians (30-0-1) to the Region I-3A semifinals where they will face either Shallowater or Denver City next week. 

Early, which saw a solid performance by starting pitcher Caydon Laird go to waste, closed the season at 23-9. But not before putting a serious scare into the Indians in game’s final inning. 

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GAME STORY: Laird, Early bounce back from slow start to rout Ballinger in Game 1

A rocky first inning proved merely a mild inconvenience for the Early baseball team Thursday at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, where the Longhorns rallied from a 3-1 first-inning deficit to run-rule Ballinger 14-3 in Game 1 of a best-of-three Region I-3A area-round series.

Sophomore starter Caydon Laird bounced back from allowing three runs in top of the first to shut out the Bearcats the rest of the way, and the EHS lineup gave him six runs in the second and five in the third to make a winner out of the right-hander.

Up 12-3 after three innings, the Longhorns tacked on two more runs in the fourth to put the run rule into effect and put themselves in position to close out the series when it resumes with Game 2 at 1 p.m. Friday at the same site.

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EVAN REN: Handicapping the boys state track meet.

Having already released our picks for the girls state track meet earlier this evening, we now present the boys event, using the same approach. 

We’ll comb through each event involving a Big Country athlete (or athletes) and assess if they are favorites, dark horses or long shots to get on the medal stand. 

Let’s not waste any time. Let’s dive in. 

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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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GAME STORY: Brock remains unbeaten in district with big win at Early

EARLY — Hoping to force a first-place tie in District 8-3A with perennial power Brock, coach Todd Hatton and a youthful Early baseball team knew they needed a quick start when the Eagles paid them a visit on Tuesday. 

It didn’t happen. 

Quite the contrary, it was Brock that got out of the gate quickly, smothering Early with a six-run first inning and a six-run second in a 12-1 win via the five-inning 10-run rule. 

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FEATURE: Young Early baseball team making waves ahead of schedule

Last year’s COVID pause came at a tough time for the Early baseball program.

Off to a solid start with seven returning seniors on the squad, the Longhorns appeared poised to build on the co-district championship they achieved the year before.

Fast forward to this season, and things looked less certain for coach Todd Hatton and his bunch.

With just two seniors, four juniors a slew of sophomores, and a limited number of games last spring through which to gain experience, EHS entered the season as something of a wild card. But sitting at 14-6 overall and 6-1 in league play heading into the second half of District 8-3A action, the youthful Longhorns can’t help but be pleased with their current position — and the rapid progress they made to get here.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Aspermont junior takes this week’s award

A strained hip may have slowed Aspermont junior Sadie Gentry, but you’d never know it by watching her compete. 

A week ago, Gentry took gold in the high jump (4-8) and the 400 meters (63.8) at the District 15-1A meet. She then helped the 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams take district titles as in 52.9 and 4:33, respectively.

Her four district titles were more than sufficient to earn her our Capital Farm Credit Player of the Week/BCP Player of the Week award for the week ending April 3. But when you add the fact that she was nursing a sore hip and following orders to not overdo it, her performance becomes even more significant. 

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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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