Category: Local football

GAME REPORT: Thompson’s big night fuels Cooper to rout at Granbury

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.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High comes up big in clutch, scores gritty win over Permian

Coming into Friday’s game against Odessa Permian at 0-3 and needing a win to avoid an 0-2 start to District 2-6A play, the Abilene High football team had its mettle tested early and often by a favored Panthers squad. 

But any questions about the Eagles’ mental state or resiliency were answered definitively in a gritty 27-25 win at Shotwell Stadium.

Trailing 25-21 at halftime, AHS (1-3 overall, 1-1 in District 2-6A) took the lead on a pair of Anthony Ramirez field goals, and the Eagle defense made it hold up, shutting out the Panthers over the final two quarters to secure the win. Sophomore safety Noah Hatcher made the play of the night, coming up with a late interception in the end zone to thwart a potential go-ahead drive by Permian and allow the Eagles to seal the upset victory with a single first down.

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FEATURE: Speedy AHS wideout Houston growing into go-to, leadership roles

As a junior in 2019, Jeshari Houston made his presence felt for the Abilene High football team, catching 36 passes for 443 yards to lead the Eagle offense in both categories.

But in averaging 12.3 yards per catch and hauling in one touchdown pass, the speedy receiver was only scratching the surface of his potential.

Now in his final high school season, Houston has taken a significant step forward, progressing from the leading pass-catcher for a struggling offense into a true No. 1 receiver. With 11 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns through AHS’ first three games, the senior is on pace to dwarf last year’s production. And the scary part is, Eagles coach Mike Fullen said the wideout is just getting started.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 9)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-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 and close Thursday morning.

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

Continue reading “Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 9)”

FEATURE: New batch of Cooper corners striving to fill big shoes

 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.

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FEATURE: Wylie’s Martin staying upbeat through unique, challenging first year as head coach

If you had told Clay Martin in January that his team would be undefeated four weeks into his first season as a head football coach, he’d likely have happily accepted that outcome.

If you had told him all of the challenges he’d face to get there, he likely wouldn’t have believed you.

Hired to replace longtime Wylie head coach Hugh Sandifer on Jan. 31 after spending more than a quarter-century on the Bulldogs staff, Martin has been tasked with navigating one of the most unique seasons in Texas high school football history. And with his team in the middle of what’s likely to be its third consecutive week off due to COVID-19 cancellations/postponements, he’s adopted an age-old coaching cliché as his guiding philosophy.

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GAME STORY: Garcia’s big night fuels Cooper to district-opening rout of Justin Northwest

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.

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GAME REPORT: Eagles can’t slow Central passing attack in Fullen’s return to sideline

SAN ANGELO — Mike Fullen made his return to the Abilene High sideline after missing his team’s first two games while undergoing cancer treatment, but the Eagles were unable to make his return a winning one in their District 2-6A opener against San Angelo Central.

AHS (0-3, 0-1) fell behind early and was never able to slow the Bobcat passing attack in a 53-32 loss Friday at San Angelo Stadium.

Central quarterback Malachi Brown passed for 336 yards and a school record-tying five touchdown passes as the Bobcats (1-3, 1-0) raced out to a 29-12 halftime lead and cruised from there to the three-score victory.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 8)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-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 and close Thursday morning.

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

Continue reading “Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 8)”

FEATURE: ‘Quiet’ Abilene High LB Guzman letting play do the talking in breakout senior season

Abilene High outside linebacker Nathan Guzman is the type program success story that interim Eagles coach Jeff Rhoads just loves.

A hard-working, team-first kid who has paid his dues and waited his turn, Guzman is finally getting his chance to shine this season as a senior. And in his first year as a starter after playing sparingly behind a talented group of backers last year, he is definitely making the most of it.

Through two games, Guzman leads the Eagles with 25 total tackles (18 solo) and two tackles for loss. And his two forced fumbles are second on the team behind only fellow senior Joseph Woodyard (3). 

While that level of production has come as a surprise to some, including Guzman himself, Rhoads said it’s the culmination of years of hard work and should serve as an example to younger players of what can happen when one stays the course.

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FEATURE: Standout Cooper RB Garcia savoring remaining time on field with ‘brothers’

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.

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FEATURE: Young Cooper defense trying to continue tradition set by 2019 unit

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.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 7)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-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 and close Thursday morning.

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

Continue reading “Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 7)”

BREAKING: Wylie-Cooper matchup, Bulldogs’ homecoming game canceled due to COVID

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.

FEATURE: Wylie wideouts Cooper, Hughes bring big-play punch to Bulldog attack

Having one big-play wideout can be a game-changer for an offense. Having two is even better.

The Wylie football team is currently enjoying the latter with seniors Creed Cooper and Reed Hughes, who’ve made their presence felt in a major way during the Bulldogs’ 2-0 start.

In combining for 10 catches for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns in victories over Brownwood (28-7) and Lubbock Monterey (24-6), Cooper and Hughes have given quarterback Balin Valentine and the Wylie offense, in general, a pair of big-time weapons on the edges. And though the two friends share a light-hearted rivalry that goes back years, they’re more than content to share the spotlight — and touches — if it means continued success for their team.

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GAME STORY: Cooper rallies past rival Abilene High for gritty win in 60th Crosstown Showdown

 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.

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GAME RECAP: Wylie thumps Lubbock Monterey to improve to 2-0

LUBBOCK — The Wylie football team continued its hot start to the season Friday, following its 28-7 season-opening victory over Brownwood last week with a 24-6 win at Lubbock Monterey to improve to 2-0 on the year.

The Bulldogs raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead and never were threatened in the second half in matching last season’s win total just two games into Clay Martin’s head coaching tenure.

Quarterback Balin Valentine led the offense, hitting 13 of 20 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown while rushing for a team-high 64 yards and a score. The Bulldog defense, meanwhile, limited the Plainsmen to one third-quarter touchdown and forced four turnovers in delivering its second consecutive dominant performance.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 6)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-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 and close Thursday morning.

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

Continue reading “Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 6)”

FEATURE: Abilene High QB Ramirez showing growth through on-the-job training

There’s been nothing gradual or incremental about Abel Ramirez’s introduction to varsity football.

Through a unique set of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, the Abilene High junior quarterback has had to do his learning on the fly.

Called up from junior varsity for the final game of the 2019 season due to injuries, Ramirez has made two career starts — against Class 6A power Euless Trinity last year and against Class 5A No. 9 Amarillo Tascosa last week. And though he’s yet to lead the Eagles to a win, he’s shown a level of toughness and maturity that has impressed his coaches and teammates.

And with another stiff test forthcoming in his third start — against Crosstown rival Cooper on Friday — Ramirez is hoping the next lesson in his varsity education ends with his first victory.

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FEATURE: Wylie defensive line ready to build off strong first showing

Coming into Friday’s season opener against against a Brownwood team that had just rushed for almost 300 years in its previous game, first-year Wylie head coach Clay Martin knew that controlling the line of scrimmage would be vital to his team’s hopes of starting 1-0.

But even he had to be surprised by just how thoroughly the Bulldogs accomplished that mission in their 28-7 victory at Gordon Wood Stadium.

Led by a strong effort from its defensive line, WHS limited Brownwood to just 188 yards of total offense, including just 38 yards on the ground, in a dominating performance.

It was quite a start for a front that returned just one starter from last year’s 2-8 squad.

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