Category: Local football

FEATURE: Blue-collar Abilene High program comfortable, content in underdog role

When Abilene High takes the field for its Region I-5A Division I final against Aledo on Friday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium, the Eagles will do so as the clear underdog.

Unbeaten at 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state in their classification, the Bearcats are the favorite to return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where they won their most recent of 11 state championships last fall.

But if you think the Eagles will be uncomfortable in a challenger role or intimidated playing a state power, you don’t know enough about the AHS program. During a 25-year run that has seen Abilene High reach the playoffs 21 times, achieve double digit wins on 11 occasions and claim a state title of its own in 2009, the Eagles have built a well-earned reputation as a giant killer.

And they’re all too happy to put their own tradition on the line this week in Stephenville.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 15)

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 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Stephenville’s Butchee takes the top spot

We freely admit that more offensive players take our Big Country Preps Player of the Week than do defenders. 

But a great defensive performance can, indeed, take the top spot and that is the case with this week’s award winner: Stephenville sophomore linebacker, Hudson Butchee. 

With the Yellow Jackets squaring off with perennial power Celina in the Region II-4A DI semifinals, Butchee played like a man possessed in a 7-3 Stephenville win. 

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GAME STORY: Fast start, clutch defense fuel Abilene High past Justin Northwest, into fourth round

WICHITA FALLS — A fast start offensively and a clutch defensive performance throughout were all Abilene High needed Friday to down Justin Northwest 27-16 and advance to the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

AHS raced out to a 14-0 lead after a quarter, took a 20-7 advantage into halftime and never trailed the rest of the way despite frequent challenges by the Texans offense in the second half.

The Eagles, who turned Northwest away in the red zone twice in the third quarter, allowed just one second-half touchdown despite spending most of the final two periods on their own end of the field. That allowed the offense, which finished four of their five first-half possessions with points, to put the game away with their only scoring drive of the second half late in the fourth quarter.

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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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GAME REPORT: Cooper can’t keep up with Colleyville Heritage in area-round loss

MANSFIELD — The Cooper football team couldn’t keep pace with Colleyville Heritage in its Region I-5A Division II area-round matchup Friday, falling behind early and never recovering in a 55-21 loss at Newsom Field.

The Panthers raced out to 14-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game and increased their advantage to 35-7 by halftime, putting the game out of reach before the start of the third quarter.

Trailing 52-7 early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars added a pair of late touchdowns before seeing their season end at 5-7.

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GAME STORY: Argyle too much for Wylie to handle in 49-14 area-round victory

STEPHENVILLE — The Argyle Eagles ended Wylie’s football season for the second year in a row, controlling all phases of the game in a 49-14 area-round victory Friday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium. 

AHS, which defeated Wylie 35-28 in the fourth round last year, held the Bulldogs without a first down until the 7:36 mark of the second quarter in Friday’s rematch. And by the time the Wylie offense finally found some rhythm in its quick passing game, it was in too deep a hole to dig out of.

The Eagles outgained the Bulldogs 482-256 for the game, taking a 28-7 lead into halftime and holding WHS at arm’s length the rest of the way.

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GAME STORY: Slack, stingy defense fuel Abilene High past Denton Ryan

CROWLEY — Dylan Slack passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and a ball-hawking Abilene High defense recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass to lead the Eagles to a 31-21 win over Denton Ryan on Friday night. As a result, the District 2-5A Division I champions will advance to the third round of the playoffs to face Justin Northwest next Friday in Wichita Falls

The victory improved the Eagles’ record to 10-2. Denton Ryan, which earned second place in District 3-5A Division I, finished its season at 8-3. Additionally, the Raiders failed for the third time to earn a victory in the all-time series, having lost twice previously to Abilene High in regular season games in the early 2000s.

Slack was a big reason why, as the senior quarterback guided the Eagles’ ball-control passing game to help rally AHS from 7-0 and 14-10 first-half deficits. That was no small feat, considering that from the opening whistle to his final-play kneel to cap the win, Slack wasn’t only battling a talented Raiders defense, but a steady drizzle and occasional wind gusts.

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FEATURE: Senior linebacker Bryce Neves a ball-seeking missile for Abilene High defense

When Abilene High linebacker Bryce Neves looks back at his junior film, he’s struck by how slow he appears to play. But before one accepts that critique at face value, they should probably be aware of who it’s coming from.

Neves, who was a playmaker for an excellent Eagles defense last season, was playing at a perfectly acceptable speed and level. In fact, it was good enough to earn him a second-team all-district nod out of a strong Class 5A Division I league.

It just didn’t match the bullet train pace at which he’s reading, reacting and playing this year as a senior for the 9-2 Eagles.

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FEATURE: Wylie LB Collin Bruning a leader, playmaking force for improved Bulldogs defense

As a quarterback and safety growing up, Wylie senior Collin Bruning has always had a knack for making plays. When he was moved to inside linebacker last year by former Bulldogs defensive coordinator and now Midland Greenwood head coach Bryan Hill, he took that same quality with him to his new position.

After breaking out last year in Hill’s 4-3 scheme, racking up 128 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception, Bruning is in the midst of an even better season this fall as a senior.

And that playmaking ability that he developed in the offensive and defensive backfield as a young player has served him quite well as he’s helped lead a successful transition to current DC Matt Kates’ 3-4 alignment.

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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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Buck Powell

BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Hico’s Powell takes this week’s accolade

Big numbers are always great to have when we decide the winner of our Big Country Preps Player of the Week award. Solid numbers across multiple tasks are even better. 

That was the case with this week’s spotlight player, Buck Powell, of Hico, who helped the Tigers to a 47-14 rout of Maud in the Class 2A DII bi-district round on Friday. 

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GAME REPORT: Bray leads Cooper to come-from-behind win over El Paso Chapin

EL PASO — Trailing El Paso Chapin 10-7 at halftime, the Cooper football team used 28-point third quarter to regain the lead and eventually pull away for a 42-27 win in Friday’s Region I-5A Division II bi-district matchup at El Paso Austin’s McKee Stadium.

Daniel Bray rushed for 253 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Cougars (5-6), who earned an area-round matchup against Colleyville Heritage with the win.

Cooper outgained Chapin 444-366, outpacing the Huskies 314-213 on the ground to complete the rally.

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FEATURE: Unselfish senior Jaylen Parker a two-way leader for young Cooper squad

It’s not common among the large school ranks for players to play on both sides of the football. So Cooper’s Jaylen Parker is already somewhat unique just by doing so.

The lone returner from a talented CHS receiving corps , the senior entered the season expecting to be an impact player on offense. But circumstances forced — or more accurately, allowed — Parker to double those responsibilities over the final four weeks of the regular season, when he added “starting cornerback” to his list of duties.

While the new role added a new loop in what’s been a rollercoaster of a season for both the Cougars and Parker, it also highlighted an underlying truth about Parker: he cares first and foremost about the Cougars and will always prioritize team success over his own.

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GAME STORY: Wylie thrashes El Paso Andress to kickoff playoff run with rout

The Wylie football team kicked off the playoffs in dominating fashion Friday at Hugh Sandifer Stadium, scoring on its first eight possessions while taking a shutout into the final minute of a 55-7 win over El Paso Andress.

The Bulldogs piled up almost 500 yards of total offense while holding the Eagles under 200, putting the game away early to earn an area-round matchup with Argyle next week in Stephenville.

WHS (8-3) led 21-0 less than five minutes into the game and stretched its advantage to 48-0 by halftime, before coasting in the second half to lopsided victory.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High opens postseason with historic win over Hanks

After a week to rest and get ready for the playoffs, the Abilene High football team set a school record for points in a half as the Eagles rolled to an 84-14 win over El Paso Hanks on Thursday night at Shotwell Stadium.

AHS put up 70 points in the first half, 21 of which came in the span of 37 seconds after Bryce Neves had two fumble recoveries and an interception to open the second quarter.

It was a first half unlike anything Abilene High coach Mike Fullen has seen in his coaching career.

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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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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. II WEEK 11 REPORT: Wylie tops Cooper for No. 2 seed; Palo Duro takes last playoff spot from Plainview

Wylie 17, Cooper 7 — The Bulldogs outlasted their crosstown rival Cougars for a hard-fought, defensive win, using a pick-six by Collin Bruning to seal the victory with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

Bruning forced and recovered a fumble inside the red zone earlier in the fourth quarter to lead a Wylie defense that limited Cooper 240 total yards and shut the Cougars out over the final three quarters.  Offensively, the Bulldogs (7-3, 4-1) had just 141 total yards, led by Julius Laine with 65 yards and a touchdown rushing.

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. I WEEK 11 REPORT: Amarillo High, Tascosa lock down playoff spots while Abilene High rests

Amarillo High 61, Lubbock Monterey 28 — Will Flaming passed for 171 yards and two touchdowns and Pius Vokes rushed for 158 yards and a TD to fuel the Sandies to a blowout win over the Plainsmen and secure the No. 3 playoff seed for AHS.

Amarillo High (5-5, 4-2) ran for 301 of its 472 yards in the win, getting additional rushing touchdowns from Flaming (6-67), Eddy Mpela (6-27), Jett Lopez (3-10) and Rylan Leathers (2-9). The Sandies, who got receiving scores from Bryson Brown (1-61) and Leathers (4-37), led 38-7 by halftime and increased that lead to 55-14 in the third quarter.

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Bruning fuels Wylie past Cooper in defensive Showdown

Neither the Wylie or Cooper offense could get much going Friday at Shotwell Stadium, leaving the outcome of the Big Country Preps Game of the Week in doubt deep into the fourth quarter. 

But WHS linebacker Collin Bruning took things into his own hands in the closing minutes, following a key red zone fumble recovery early in the final period with a 69-yard pick-six at the 1:25 mark to lock up a 17-7 win for the Bulldogs in the sixth Southtown Showdown.

Bruning’s defensive TD, which accounted for the only points of the second half, helped Wylie (7-3 overall, 4-1 in district) earn the No. 2 playoff seed out of District 2-5A Division II and a home playoff game in next week’s bi-district round while forcing third-seeded Cooper (4-6, 3-2) to make a long trip west to El Paso for its playoff opener.

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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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