Category: Roby Lions

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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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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BIG COUNTRY PREPS 2020 MAX EFFORT TEAM: The hardest-working volleyball players in the Big Country

Our All-Big Country Preps Volleyball team, released today, is in place to honor those who achieved the most on-court success in 2020. It is off the court, however, where character, grit and work ethic are often measured. And it is with our Big Country Preps Max Effort Team that we wish to honor those players who were the hardest-working, best teammates in the area this fall. 

This team isn’t about who the best volleyball players were.

The Max Effort team honors hustle, discipline, toughness, coachability and selflessness — traits that coaches wish every player had.

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Evan Ren’s 2020 True Grit Team: The toughest, hardest-working players in the Big Country!

Most of us know a football player who lives in the weight room, who’s always dependable and who always does what his coaches ask him. He always puts the team first. He’s early to arrive and late to leave. And he seldom needs direction because he always pays attention. 

You know the type. But you seldom hear about them, since there is no specific category to put them in and the media doesn’t recognize these qualities.

This is the guy who always sets a good example. He doesn’t complain and above all else, is tough mentally and physically. He’s not necessarily the best player on his team (though some are). But he’s definitely the guy who gets the most out of whatever talent he was born with.

Welcome to the 2020 “True Grit” team — the one place in the Big Country where guys who fall into this category are recognized for it.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Hawley tangles with upstart Dragons (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country picks)

LAST WEEK: 36-12, .750
SEASON TOTAL: 152-47, .763

I have not been to Bangs for a Game of the Week since 2013 — the last time the Dragons posted more than six wins in a season and the last winning record they had prior to last year’s 6-5 mark.

That drought ends tomorrow, when I travel to BHS for an interesting showdown between the Dragons (3-0) and Class 2A Division I power Hawley (3-1).

Bangs has the better overall numbers, but Hawley has faced a slightly tougher overall schedule, making this pick a perplexing one.

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Pipers return to Hawley in rematch of classic (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country picks)

LAST WEEK: 34-15, .694
SEASON TOTAL: 34-15, .694

If this were a horse race, Gramps Ren just stumbled out of the gate.

A .694 pick percentage is one of the worst weeks I’ve had in recent memory — brought on by a disastrous 15-9 tally (.625) in the six-man ranks.

That stinks.

Alas, we have yet to reach the first turn, so it’s way early. If I’m not hitting over .800 down the backstretch, I may resort to consulting with a palm reader.

Here’s a look at this week’s Big Country football games.

I’ll see you on the road.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Big Spring’s Baeza takes the top spot

It has been at least years since we’ve seen the type of offensive execution exhibited by the Big Spring Steers in Friday’s 36-14 win over Vernon. And Big Country Preps has never had a Big Spring player as its player of the week. 

Until now.

Junior quarterback Gabriel Baeza helped bring both of those streaks to a close, hitting 20 of 32 passes for 282 yards and four scores. In his spare time he also rushed nine times for 56 yards and two more touchdowns, giving him 338 total yards and a direct hand in six scores.

In doing so, he takes our first Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the 2020-21 school year. It was the first season-opening win for the Steers since a 58-56 win over Kerrville Tivy on Aug. 30, 2014.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: A switch! Due to some disciplinary moves, we’re now heading to Jim Ned!

LAST WEEK: 0-0, .000

SEASON TOTAL: 0-0, .000

After picking a career-high 83 percent a year ago, I was feeling quite self-assured and self-important at the close of last football season.

Little did I realize that a year later, I’d be happy to just to have games to pick and not care about what the percentage is.

In short, the world has dealt me a serious dose of perspective.

We have football, ladies and gents. Let’s hope a sense of normality returns with it.

At any rate, let’s take quick look at this week’s area contests.

I’ll see you on the road.

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BCP Football Preseason Position Rankings: Defensive Backs

After starting with the linemen and linebackers, we turn to the secondary to complete our look at the top defenders in the Big Country.

For the third installment in our eight-part preseason position rankings series, we key on the defensive backs, giving our list of the area’s top-10 players and others to look out for in 2020.

We hope you enjoy our list.

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2020 DISTRICT PREDICTIONS: Evan and Daniel make their picks

Without further ado it is time for us to make our Big Country predictions, district-by-district.

This is the culmination of several weeks of research and two solid months of summertime labor, so we’re more than ready to post it. 

So dive in and study our take on the upcoming season, along with the more than 80 preseason stories we posted earlier today. Enjoy! We’ll see you on the road. 
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Evan Ren’s top area games to travel to in 2020

Every year, for the past several years, I have looked ahead at the season schedule to create a menu of sorts — a menu for Big Country football connoisseurs to choose some Friday night pigskin in the area. 

History has proven that this isn’t an exact science, and the further out we go from Week 1, the more difficult this endeavor becomes. Nonetheless, I cannot resist a peek at my crystal ball — smudged as it may be.  

I must emphasize, that the entire list you’re about to read is subject to change. This is not a concrete list of Big Country Preps Games of the Week. It’s closer to an educated guess, contingent upon about 10,000 different variables. 

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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. 

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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: 

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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)”

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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