Category: Merkel Badgers

BCP Podcast No. 99: Evan, Daniel discuss Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (Part 1)

Like most followers of Texas high school football, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood are big fans of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.

After receiving their copies on Monday, the duo used this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the publication’s projections on the area’s Class 1A-3A teams. In Part 2 next week, Evan and Daniel will discuss Texas Football’s forecast for the Big Country’s Big Schools.

EVAN REN: We can all use some good news and football can provide some of it

In a world that has seemingly gone mad, I’ll take any dose of good news that I can find — even if it’s mundane.

The stock market inched up a half point? I’ll take it. We can go back to worrying about COVID-19? I’m all-in. The buildings in Abilene are still standing? That’s a check mark in the plus column. 

So how do we get there? 

How do we reestablish normality? 

Aside from the obvious fact that we need to stop the ongoing mayhem that is plaguing our society, getting back to common things we all hold dear will set the foundation for healing. And I’m talking about the simplest of pleasures, from peaceful walks in the park, shopping in a mall, going to the movies or attending a sporting event. 

In Texas, the latter cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to football. 

Continue reading “EVAN REN: We can all use some good news and football can provide some of it”

EVAN REN: 10 things I’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic

I’ve always held to a personal axiom that perspective is everything. True or not, how we view a situation becomes the truth in our minds.
There’s no escaping it and every one of us has our own perspective

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have changed my perspective in several ways on several different things. And for a middle-aged guy who is pretty well set in my ways, this is like the planets aligning.

I’ve managed to list my top 10 takeaways from lockdown, as they pertain to this website and what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Let’s dive in: 

Continue reading “EVAN REN: 10 things I’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic”

EVAN REN: UIL announcement promising, but are we out of the woods just yet?

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
— Elbert Hubbard

 In a Tweet released earlier today, the University Interscholastic League announced that it is actively working to allow schools to begin limited summer strength and conditioning and marching band activities on June 8. 

The mere sight of this announcement had me on the verge of challenging my 55-year-old frame to do a cartwheel for which it is ill-prepared to attempt. Because frankly, Texas without high school pigskin is like Texas without oxygen. 

The thought of its absence has been too bitter to contemplate. And in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve allowed myself to go down one rabbit hole after another — trying to discern information from disinformation, and political rhetoric from that which is concrete. 

Continue reading “EVAN REN: UIL announcement promising, but are we out of the woods just yet?”

EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
— Voltaire 

There’s a barbeque place near my home that I don’t like. In fact, I seldom go there — deliberately bypassing it whenever the BBQ craving hits me in favor of better choices. 

But Friday, after two months of COVID-19 exile, I decided to make a quick run to bring home some brisket for the wife and I and elected to go to the very place I try to avoid because it was convenient. 

Funny how one’s perspective can change while in isolation.

Abilene’s worst barbeque was suddenly good. In fact, it was beyond good. It was like freakin’ nirvana. 

I suspect that’s the way it’s going to be with virtually everything I had taken for granted before the lockdown. And I’m already experiencing some of it.

Continue reading “EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Young Merkel Badgers see progress halted by COVID-19

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Unlike many of the teams asking themselves, “What might have been?” after the University Interscholastic League’s decision to cancel the remainder of the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Merkel baseball squad will feature a very similar roster when play returns next year.

The Badgers lose just one senior, outfielder Hunter Barnes, from this year’s group, which was off to an 7-2-1 start when play was halted.

But for a program on the rise, that was hoping to build on last year’s 9-14 record and bi-district playoff appearance, the effects of this stoppage will still be felt in a major way. Instead of getting to use the District 5-3A season to show how much they’ve grown and the playoffs to take the next step in their development, the Badgers will be spending their spring and summer at home, hoping the lost time won’t have cost them too much when they finally get back on the field next year.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Merkel’s Pursley sees potential state title put on hold indefinitely

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What might have been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Kaydi Pursley held the highest of expectations for her final high school track season.

After finishing second in the UIL 3A 100 hurdles in 2019, a state title was on the Merkel senior’s mind. Pursley also wanted to medal in the pole vault, too.

But those goals are in limbo right now with the coronavirus pandemic shuttling UIL athletic activities for at least another month and maybe longer.

Pursley has spent the past couple weeks working on staying in shape. Even if she has represented Merkel for the last time, Pursley knows she must be ready in the fall when she joins Abilene Christian’s track program.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BREAKING: Ramsey leaving Merkel for Morton

The Merkel football team will have its third head coach in as many seasons after Brian Ramsey resigned his post on Monday.

Ramsey was then named the athletic director and head coach at Morton, later in the day.

Ramsey tweeted “Wish the Badgers nothing but the best,” on Monday morning. When reached by BigCountryPreps.com on Tuesday evening, he said he had no comment on his departure.

In his lone season at Merkel, the veteran coach went 2-8 after replacing John Cornelius in June. He had previously served as the head coach at Cross Plains (2010-11), Ranger (2013-16) and Electra (2017-18).

Evan Ren’s 2020 Gym Rat Team: The hardest workers in the Big Country

Scoring and rebounding is only part of the story when it comes to basketball. Behind the scenes and beyond the view of the public, is where character is often measured. And it is with our Big Country Preps Gym Rat Team that we salute the individuals who exude the most of it. 

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 effort, discipline, toughness, coachability and selflessness — traits that coaches love above all else and that championship foundations are built upon.

It is for that reason that our Gym Rat team is selected entirely by area coaches, described in their own words. And Big Country Preps is absolutely honored to present these individuals to you — the best “team players” (boys and girls) that the area had to offer during the 2019-20 season.

Players are listed in no particular order. 

Enjoy.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Superlatives: Brewer, Medina, Lenard head of 2020 class

Here are our superlative award winners for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: First-Team Roster

Here are our first-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: Second-Team Roster

Here are our second-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

2020 All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Superlatives: Galvin sisters, Gonzales take top spots

Here are our superlative award winners for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: First-Team Roster

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

2020 All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Second team starters and reserves

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Infielders

After ranking  the top pitchers and catchers on the Big Country baseball scene the past two nights, we now turn our attention to the infield.

For the third installment in our five-part position rankings series, we list our top-10 infielders in the area with a list of others to watch in 2020.

We hope you enjoy reading through our rankings.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Cisco boys rally in third quarter to escape upset-minded Merkel

The fourth-seeded Merkel Badgers put a scare into Cisco for a half Monday, but the District 6-3A champion Loboes regrouped at the break to secure a 53-42 win in a Region I-3A bi-district playoff at McMurry University’s Kimbrell Arena.

Trailing 31-24 at halftime, Cisco used an 18-2 run through the third quarter to take control and held off a Badger rally in the fourth to earn an area-round date with No. 11 Brock.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cisco’s Hearne has huge night in home finale

What better way to say goodbye to the home folks than with a career night? 

Cisco senior Gibson Hearne, who has been one of the area’s top players for the better part of two years, did exactly that last week in a 112-49 win over Comanche is the Loboes’ home finale. 

Get this: 35 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists and five steals.  

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 82: Evan, Daniel talk girls and boys playoff basketball

With the area girls heading into the area round of the playoffs and the boys settling their final tiebreakers to determine seeding, it’s time for Evan and Daniel to take a good look around the area. 

All the top favorites, all the top surprises and what they’re up against will be this week’s topic of conversation. 

GAME STORY: Merkel defense shines in 42-16 bi-district win over Bangs

It took the Merkel girls basketball team a little time to get going offensively in its playoff opener against Bangs on Monday, but a stifling defensive performance made that point moot in a 42-16 victory at McMurry University’s Kimbrell Arena.

The Lady Badgers, the District 5-3A runner-up behind No. 2 Jim Ned, held Bangs to six first-half points and used a 16-4 run through the third quarter to put the Lady Dragons away and earn an area-round date with District 8-3A champion Nocona.

Senior guard Kaydi Pursley led the Merkel effort with 14 points, all after the first quarter, while sophomore Alyssa O’Malley added 12 to help the Lady Badgers move to 26-8 on the year.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 17-23)

It’s hard to believe, but we have reached the final scheduled date of the boys basketball regular season. After Tuesday, all that will separate us from the playoffs are a handful of seeding games and coin flips.

But while most Big Country districts have already crowned their champions, plenty of intrigue remains heading into this final night of district games.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s top matchups and outcomes last week’s key results.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 81: Evan, Daniel talk Ballinger boys hoops with coach Jamal Anene

In his four years as Ballinger’s boys basketball coach, Jamal Anene has built the Bearcats into a consistent playoff team. The same is true this year of BHS, which enters a big game Friday against San Angelo TLCA at 23-8 overall and 8-2 in District 4-3A.

Earlier this week, Anene took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this season, his goals for the program and his unique background for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the end of the girls basketball regular season and some of the biggest storylines in the final week of boys district games.

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 10-16)

It seems like basketball just started a few weeks ago, but — believe it or not — we’re down to the final two weeks of the boys hoops regular season.

And with just three more dates remaining before the playoffs begin, the urgency has never been higher for area teams. Whether they’re fighting for a district title, jockeying to improve playoff seeding or just trying to find a way into the postseason bracket, Big Country squads will have plenty to play for in jam-packed Tuesday and Friday slates this week.

Without wasting any more time, let’s take a look at what the schedule has in store.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BIG COUNTRY GIRLS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Feb. 7)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BIG COUNTRY BOYS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Feb. 7)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 80: Dublin’s Parker talks ‘Flyin’ Lions’ basketball with Evan, Daniel

During his time at Dublin, boys basketball coach Will Parker has introduced an up-tempo, run-and-gun playing style that has not only increased enthusiasm around his program,but has helped the “Flyin’ Lions” win games. That’s a true again this season, which has seen the DHS boys produce a 20-9 record to date.

Earlier this week, Parker took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s team, his philosophy on tempo and the success he’s enjoyed for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this week’s episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the top upcoming matchups on the Big Country hoops scene and give their thoughts on Wylie’s decision to promote longtime defensive coordinator Clay Martin to head football coach. 

UIL hands out its share of surprises to area schools (w/ five video interviews)

ABILENE — The University Interscholastic league released its new athletic districts for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years on Monday. 

As always, a sizable contingent of area coaches was on hand at the Region 14 Education Service Center to receive their information packets and arrange for any last-second schedule changes that were forced by realignment. 

Perhaps the biggest stunner was a move north by Class 2A Division I power San Saba, which has been shifted to the new District 4 with Cisco, Coleman, De Leon, Goldthwaite and Winters. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 3-9)

It’s hard to believe, but we’re rapidly approaching the home stretch of the high school boys basketball season.

District races are starting to take shape, making every game important for the teams still in district title/playoff contention.

With that said, let’s take our weekly look at the top matchups this week and biggest results from last week’s games.   

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

If you’re not subscribed at Big Country Preps yet, here’s what you missed last month …

If you’re not subscribed at BigCountryPreps.com yet, this is what you’ve missed over the past month:
— 16 player features,
— On-site coverage of 18 of the area’s top games
— Boys and girls stat leaders (updated weekly)
— Area standings (updated twice weekly)
— Columns
— Our All-Big Country Preps football teams
— Evan Ren’s Big Country True Grit Football Team
— Four BCP Players of the Week
— Breaking sports stories. 
For as little as $3 per month you can gain access to the most comprehensive coverage of high school football, basketball, baseball, softball and track in the Big Country. 
We have three low subscription options for you to choose from — monthly, semiannual and annual — with prices that always stay the same. No sign-up gimmicks here.  
Here’s a look at the entirety of our January coverage (plus links):

Continue reading “If you’re not subscribed at Big Country Preps yet, here’s what you missed last month …”

BIG COUNTRY BOYS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Jan. 30)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BIG COUNTRY GIRLS STATISTICAL LEADERS (Scoring, rebounds, assists and steals through Jan. 30)

Big Country Preps publishes area boys and girls basketball statistical leaders each Thursday at 7 p.m.

This database will be continually updated for our subscribers throughout the remainder of the season, using only those statistics submitted by area coaches.

Teams that do not submit their statistics in a given week will not be listed when our stats are posted, but will be added to the lists below as they are received in the coming days. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

BCP Podcast No. 79: Geter talks Cooper girls hoops turnaround with Evan, Daniel

Sitting at 22-8 overall and 4-1 in District 4-5A play, the Cooper girls basketball team is in the midst of its best season in more than a decade under the leadership of first-year coach Arsenio Geter.

Earlier this week, Geter took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about the Lady Cougars’ turnaround, the goals for the remainder of the season and the future of the program for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss some of the Big Country’s biggest surprises of the boys and girls basketball season.

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Jan. 27-Feb. 2)

We’re closing in on February and the Big Country’s boys basketball district races are heating up. 

With most of our leagues at or approaching the midpoint of their schedules, we’ve seen championship favorites established in some districts while other races remain wide open. And in most cases, playoff opportunities still remain for those who have fallen out of district title contention. 

With so much left to be decided, let’s take a quick look at the biggest storylines on the local and area boys basketball scene this week.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us