Category: Local football

GAME STORY: Special teams lift Wylie past Canutillo and into state quarterfinals

FORT STOCKTON — It’s time to hang the “Football in December” banner at Hugh Sandifer Stadium.

The Wylie football team continued its postseason run through the Region I-5A Division II bracket with a thrilling 21-18 win over Canutillo at Fort Stockton’s Panther Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

After the game, Wylie players were quick to admit that they knew the last time the banner went up was in 2016 when the Bulldogs lost 31-17 to Carthage in the Class 4A Division I state championship.

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GAME STORY: Centennial rides big fourth quarter to 24-14 win over Abilene High, ends Eagles’ run in I-5A DI semis

ARLINGTON — The Abilene High football team saw its surprising playoff run come to an end Friday, falling 24-14 to Burleson Centennial in a wet Region I-5A Division I semifinal matchup at Choctaw Stadium.

Despite a tough offensive night on which they were limited to just 169 yards and five first downs, the Eagles found themselves tied with the Spartans 7-7 after three quarters of play. But Centennial scored 17 consecutive points to start the final period, taking advantage of a pair of AHS fumbles — one it returned for a touchdown — to finally put away coach Mike Fullen’s squad.

The flexbone-based Spartans (12-1), who overcame a red zone fumble on their final possession of the first half, finished with 235 yards of total offense, achieving their big fourth quarter despite a modest offensive output of just 64 yards in the second half.

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FEATURE: Clutch Wylie Bulldogs comfortable with game on the line

It may seem obvious, but pressure situations are described as such because of the increased stress put on teams trying to perform in the late stages of close games.

Playing in “crunch time” is supposed to make things more difficult.

Apparently no one ever bothered to inform the Wylie football team of this.

Continue reading “FEATURE: Clutch Wylie Bulldogs comfortable with game on the line”

FEATURE: Abilene High’s ‘surprising’ run to region semis a product of program’s process, tradition

Of all teams still playing in the Texas high school football playoffs, Abilene High would likely be considered one of the bigger surprises .

Closing the regular season at 4-6, as the No. 4 seed out of District 2-5A Division I, the Eagles weren’t a popular pick to make a deep playoff run. 

But after dominating good teams from El Paso Del Valle (42-14) and Red Oak (35-0) to earn a Region I-5A DI semifinals matchup with Burleson Centennial on Friday, coach Mike Fullen’s squad finds itself in the third round of the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Abilene High’s 2020 squad, like this one, entered the playoffs with a modest record and found its stride later in the year — following a path to postseason success that Fullen has embraced during his time as the Eagles head coach.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 14)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select six-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

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BCP PLAYOFF FORECAST: Area football could see as many as 10 survivors in December

LAST WEEK: 21-4, .840
SEASON TOTAL: 518-119, .813

Week 14 is upon us and we still have 13 teams from the Big Country Preps coverage area with a pulse.

And unless my pick percentage suffers a sudden crash, it’s my opinion that no fewer than 10 of our area teams will survive to play into December.

We shall see.

Here’s this week’s playoff forecast: 

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GAME REPORT: Abilene High dominates on both sides of the ball in area-round rout of Red Oak

MANSFIELD — The Abilene High football team dominated Red Oak in every way imaginable Friday, routing the Hawks 35-0 in an area-round matchup at Newsom Stadium to earn a Region I-5A Division I semifinals date with Burleson Centennial next week.

The Eagles, who advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the second time in the past three years, outgained Red Oak 472-82, rushing for 413 yards to the Hawks’ 58 in a thorough beating.

Red Oak managed just four first downs against the Abilene High defense, which forced seven punts and a turnover on downs while adding an interception for good measure.

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GAME REPORT: Scrappy Cougars rally but fall short in season-ending loss to Grapevine

FORT WORTH — The Cooper football team rallied from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit and 24-7 halftime hole to pull within three points in the fourth quarter of Friday’s Region I-5A Division II area-round matchup with Grapevine. But that was as close as the Cougars could get in a season-ending 38-21 loss to the Mustangs at Crowley ISD Stadium.

Hurt by five turnovers, CHS still managed to pull within 24-21 on Daniel Bray’s 16-yard touchdown run with 7:19 remaining in the game. And the Coogs had an opportunity to take a lead on their next possession. But they couldn’t finish that drive, and Grapevine closed with two late touchdowns to pull away.

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GAME STORY: Wylie scores 20 points in final five minutes to rally past Colleyville Heritage in area round

GRAPEVINE — After Wylie quarterback KJ Long’s fourth-down pass was intercepted with less than six minutes remaining and his team trailing Colleyville Heritage 40-30, there was a sigh of relief on the home side of Mustang-Panther Stadium.

It was clear from the reaction to Bryson Burgess’ pick that most in the Panthers’ cheering section and on the Heritage sideline thought that was the knockout blow in a wild Region I-5A Division II area-round matchup.

It was also clear from that reaction that those same people hadn’t followed Wylie’s season closely enough.

The Panthers’ hadn’t broken the Bulldogs’ fighting spirit, they’d ignited it. And after forcing and recovering a fumble on the very next play, Wylie sandwiched a pair of clutch touchdown drives around a huge fourth-down stop to escape Grapevine with a thrilling 50-40 win and earn a region semifinals date next week with Canutillo.

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FEATURE: Outside linebackers Johnson, Davila setting tone for stifling Abilene High defense

In the Abilene High defense, few players play more important or diverse roles than the outside linebackers.

Those who fill this hybrid position in the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme may find themselves rushing the passer like a defensive end on one play, setting the edge on an outside run the next and dropping into pass coverage the play after that.

With so many responsibilities, those players must be strong enough to shed blocks, fast enough to run down ball-carriers and intelligent enough to know their duties on every play. Fortunately for the Eagles and unfortunately for their opponents, AHS’ current outside backers — seniors Kenneth Johnson and Zak Davila — are all of those things and up to any task asked of them.

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FEATURE: Senior end Price a steady leader for rapidly improving Wylie defense

Wylie defensive end Ryan Price has had a lot put on his plate this season.

As one of just three returning starters from last year’s defense — and the top returning producer after tallying 61 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks for that unit — the 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior was tasked with leading a young Bulldogs defense through a minefield of a schedule that would test both its ability and resolve.

Through his steady — and sometimes spectacular — play and rock-solid example, Price has shouldered that weight well. And in doing so, he’s been a key part of a defensive transformation that has the Bulldogs riding a six-game winning streak into Friday’s area-round playoff matchup at Colleyville Heritage.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 13)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select six-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYOFF FORECAST: Several big matchups dot the area landscape

LAST WEEK: 34-6, .850
SEASON TOTAL: 497-115, .812

There’s always a certain sadness to the playoffs. 

The finality of it all can be difficult to cope with after covering a group of teams for three straight months.  And unless I’ve missed my guess, this week’s area round may be particularly painful for the Big Country. 

If I’m correct, our coverage area will say goodbye to no fewer than 14 of our remaining 26 teams, leaving a dozen with a shot at still reaching Arlington. And from there, it only gets more difficult.  

That also holds true for accurately picking winners. The column hit at 85 percent accuracy last week, but from this point forward, history has shown that hitting that number late in the postseason is extremely difficult.  So perhaps the area will have a few extra survivors. 

I’ll see you on the road. Here’s this week’s forecast: 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Comanche QB snags this week’s accolade

With standout running back Sawyer Wilkerson getting much of the media attention in 2022, the Comanche Indians have been receiving efficient, under-publicized play from the quarterback spot through much of a 10-1 record. 

Last week was perhaps the best example of that, with junior signal caller Layden Welch torching Henrietta with an 11 of 16 passing performance for 248 yards and five TDs in a 69-27 win. 

But that’s just the beginning. 

Welch also rushed 11 times for 65 yards and two scores. He gathered five solo tackles, four assisted stops, forced a fumble and deflected a pass to help CHS advance to the area round. 

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GAME REPORT: Abilene High goes on road to dominate Del Valle in playoff opener

EL PASO — Facing off with an El Paso Del Valle squad that had outscored its opponents 455-119 on its way to a 9-1 regular-season record, the Abilene High football team flipped the script on the Conquistadors in Thursday’s Region I-5A Division I bi-district game at Conquest Stadium.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles exploded for 21 points in each of the next two periods to take a 42-0 lead on their way to a dominating 42-14 victory.

Abilene High limited the Del Valle offense, which came in averaging more than 400 yards per game, to just 290 total yards — most of which came after the Eagles had already increased their lead to six touchdowns. AHS, meanwhile, put together its most explosive offensive performance of the season, piling up 421 yards in 54 plays with near perfect balance run to pass.

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GAME REPORT: Warren, Cooper carve up El Paso Andress to advance to area round

EL PASO — The Cooper football team passed its first playoff test with flying colors, dominating El Paso Andress from start to finish in a 49-20 bi-district win at Allan Sepkowitz Stadium.

The Cougars outgained the Eagles 525-300, expanding a 21-6 lead to 35-13 by halftime and cruising from there to the lopsided win and into the Region I-5A Division II area round, where they will take on Grapevine (10-1) next week a time, date and location to be determined.

Quarterback Chris Warren had a big day throwing the ball for the Coogs, hitting 15 of 23 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns, including a 99-yard scoring strike to Daniel Bray, who finished with 204 total yards and three combined touchdowns in the victory.

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GAME STORY: Wylie blasts El Paso High 54-14 to claim first playoff win as Class 5A program

Coach Clay Martin’s Wylie Bulldogs kicked off the playoffs in dominating fashion Thursday night, starting fast and never letting up in a 54-14 win over El Paso High. 

Playing on its home field after earning the District 2-5A Division II title outright, WHS turned a Blake Borho interception on the first play from scrimmage into a 42-yard scoring drive, and it was off to the races from there as the Bulldogs claimed their first playoff win as a Class 5A program.

Wylie led 21-0 after one quarter and 41-7 at halftime, allowing Martin to play the bulk of his roster on the way to his first postseason victory as a head football coach.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 12)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select six-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

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FEATURE: Confidence, competitive fire fuel breakout season for Wylie QB Long

Coming into the season, few knew what to expect out of Wylie quarterback KJ Long. 

The senior signal caller had thrown just five career passes and recorded a single rush attempt at the varsity level before this year, making him a virtual unknown to all but those closest to the WHS program.

Even Bulldogs coach Clay Martin wasn’t entirely sure what he would get out of the 5-foot-8, 155 pound playmaker. So the fact that Long has undeniably been one of the top quarterbacks in all of the Big Country this fall has been a pleasant development, indeed.

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FEATURE: Versatile Cooper receiver Herron a dynamic playmaker for Coogs

Cooper senior Cam Herron is a unique weapon. 

While listed as a receiver on the Cougars roster, the 5-foot-7 speedster is utilized in a number of ways and positions by the CHS staff. In fact, he’s scored 11 touchdowns in four different ways this season — highlighting just how electric he can be the with ball in his hands.

With the regular season in the rearview, and a bi-district playoff matchup at El Paso Andress slated for 4 p.m. Thursday, Cooper will be trying to extend its season one more week when it takes the field at Allan Sepkowitz Stadium. And you can bet Herron will be a major part of the Coogs’ offensive game plan when they do.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYOFF FORECAST: Top matchups (w/Evan Ren’s Big Country Playoff picks)

LAST WEEK: 42-4, .913
SEASON TOTAL: 463-109, .809

It has been my tradition since I arrived in the Big Country way back in 2006 to suspend the Game of the Week at the conclusion of the regular season. From this point forward, they’re all the Game of the Week and Big Country Preps will be scrambling to get to as many postseason games involving our teams as possible. 

In the meantime, the column hit at more than 90-percent accuracy last week — the best week of picks I’ve had in 2022. So perhaps I’m peaking at the right time and can carry that momentum into postseason. 

We shall see. 

Here’s this week’s playoff forecast: 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Wylie safety Wright takes top honors with three fourth-quarter picks

If it’s true that big-time players make big-time plays in big moments, few had a stronger claim to that “big-time” title this past week than Wylie sophomore Hayden Wright.

The Bulldogs free safety not only came through with three interceptions in his team’s 20-10 District 2-5A Division I title-clinching win over crosstown rival Cooper, he recorded all three picks in the fourth quarter as Wylie was trying to hold off a late Cougar rally.

For that effort, which saw him snatch his fourth, fifth and sixth interceptions of the season, the young playmaker has been named the Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the week ending Nov. 5.

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. II WEEK 11 REPORT: Wylie tops Cooper for outright title; Palo Duro claims fourth playoff spot

Wylie 20, Cooper 10 — The Bulldogs capped a perfect run through district play with their first-ever win over Cougars, locking up their first district championship as a Class 5A program with the victory.

Wylie (7-3, 5-0) outgained Cooper 372-310, racing out to a 14-3 halftime lead on their way to the win. Cooper (5-5, 3-2) trimmed the deficit to 14-10 with a touchdown in the third quarter, but a long touchdown pass from KJ Long to Derrick with 5:53 remaining in the fourth sealed the win for the Bulldogs.

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. I WEEK 11 REPORT: Tascosa wraps up first outright title since ’88; Amarillo High clinches playoff spot

Amarillo Tascosa 35, Lubbock Coronado 14 — The Rebels closed out a perfect run through district play with a comfortable win over the Mustangs to claim their first outright district title since 1988.

Tascosa (9-1, 6-0) gained 352 yards, all on the ground, building a 21-7 lead by halftime. Tayden Barnes rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the Rebels, while Treshun Wilson added 101 yards and two scores.

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GAME STORY: Wylie clinches outright district title with first-ever win over Cooper

Friday was a night of firsts for the Wylie football team.

Sitting at 0-3 all time against crosstown rival Cooper heading into Friday night’s matchup at Hugh Sandifer Stadium, the Bulldogs outlasted the Cougars for a thrilling 20-10 win to claim their first victory over CHS and clinch their first outright district title as a Class 5A program.

After racing out to a 14-3 halftime lead, the Bulldogs saw their advantage cut to four points late in the third quarter. But a 76-yard touchdown hookup from KJ Long to Derrick Evans with just six minutes remaining gave Wylie a cushion, and sophomore safety Hayden Wright protected it with his last two of three fourth-quarter interceptions — both occurring in the end zone.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 11)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select six-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

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