Category: Six-man

DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Big Country Preps Top 10 Stories for 2020

The year 2020 is finally behind us — a fact I think we can all celebrate as a positive.

A wretched year in so many ways, 2020 presented unique challenges most of us never could have envisioned and brought levels of heartbreak and hardship we may never experience again in our lifetimes. 

But even out of bad years, good stories can arise. And as a website devoted to highlighting the positives in our narrow area of focus, we’re going to revisit some of the best today.

As has become a New Year’s Day custom here at Big Country Preps, it’s time once again to revisit the biggest Big Country sports stories of the past year. And while narrowing and compiling that list is never easy, and always leaves worthy stories unaccounted for, we hope you enjoy looking back at some of the highlights from a tough year.

As we say goodbye to 2020 (thankfully), we turn our attention to the local athletes and coaches who produced some positive memories for area sports fans. 

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 10 stories from last year:

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GAME STORY: Top-ranked Sterling City dispatches May for first state title

ARLINGTON — For one play on Wednesday, everything was good for May in the Class 1A Division I state championship game against top-ranked Sterling City at AT&T Stadium.

Kaden Halk had a 67-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game to stake the Tigers to a quick 8-0 lead, but after that, it was all Eagles as Sterling City took a 68-22 win in a game was stopped just 23 seconds into the second half because of the 45-point rule.

May, now 1-5 all-time in state championship games, finished the season at 13-2 with both losses coming to Sterling City.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT WEDNESDAY NIGHT PODCAST: Evan & Dan talk playoff football

VIDEO PODCAST NO. 12: Evan Ren and Dan Youngblood speak about last week’s playoff action, and this week’s state title games

Top games of this week discussed: May vs. Sterling City, Jim Ned vs. Mt. Vernon, Abilene vs. North Crowley 

Top games of last week discussed: Jim Ned vs. Mount Vernon, Cooper vs. Mansfield Summit, Abilene vs. El Paso Eastwood, Wylie vs. Grapevine.

 

 

GAME STORY: May outlasts Blum in epic overtime state semifinal

DUBLIN – It was incredibly ironic that a six-man football game that included 178 points and 1,157 total yards of offense was decided by two defensive stands.

The May Tigers outlasted the defending state champion Blum Bobcats 92-86 in overtime Saturday night in a Class 1A Division I state semifinal game. The win advanced third-ranked May (13-1) into the state championship game against No. 1 Sterling City at 2 p.m. on Dec. 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Sterling City handed May its only loss this season 44-40 on Sept. 4.

“I’m overcome with emotions. We’re going to state,” said May junior Kaden Halk, who rushed for 302 yards and scored seven touchdowns Saturday. “Since the eighth grade, our coaches have told us that defense wins championships. This wasn’t a championship game, but it got us to a championship game.”

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Abilene High boys top Class 3A No. 3 Peaster 57-50

The Abilene High boys basketball team took care of Class 3A No. 3 Peaster on Friday, using a 14-9 first quarter to take control early and holding from there for a 57-50 victory.

The Eagles (4-1) led 31-26 at halftime and 41-38 after three quarters, before putting the game away with a 16-12 run through the fourth quarter.

D.J. Modest led a list of four AHS players to score in double figures with 13 points, followed by Kelton Jackson and Nathan Watts with 12 and Jalen McGee with 10. Jackson Stevens just missed joining that group with eight points.

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GAME STORY: Strawn’s season ends in semifinal loss to Richland Springs

DUBLIN — A valiant second-half comeback attempt fell eight yards short as the Strawn Greyhounds saw their season come to an end in a 59-56 loss to Richland Springs in a Class 1A Division II state semifinal loss Friday at Bob and Norma Cervetto Field.

Faced with a fourth-and-10 from the Coyotes 24, Kadin Parsons was forced to dump a pass off as time expired to Luke Eli and the senior was forced out of bounds at the Richland Springs 8 to end the game.

It was a heartbreaking end to the career for the senior, who had five touchdowns in the game. As the Coyotes surrounded him, Eli kneeled down next to the end zone that he was valiantly trying to reach.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (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 area 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 and close Thursday morning.

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

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: May’s Halk takes the top spot

We always have our eye out for a possible six-man football player to take our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week award. But he must have one of “those games” — one that even makes the six-man community sit up and take notice, by virtue of its importance, or volume of numbers. 

Last week’s effort by May running back-defensive back Kaden Halk in a 72-38 win over Leakey qualifies on both fronts.

Only a junior, Halk tallied 356 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on just 16 carries and added a 42-yard TD reception to help push the Tigers (12-1) to the Class 1A DI semifinals where they will face Blum (9-3) at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Dublin. 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cooper star Garcia nabs award with five-TD game

Over his time at Cooper, big numbers have become the norm for standout back Noah Garcia. The senior is, after all the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher with more 4,500 yards and 55 touchdowns to his credit.

But Friday’s performance in a 48-0 road win over Fort Worth Arlington Heights was noteworthy even by his standards.

In rushing for 172 yards and four touchdowns and adding a 48-yard touchdown reception in just over three quarters of action, Garcia accounted for 30 of his team’s 48 points. 

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EVAN REN: Sunday odds and ends … and a few gripes

Sixty years and 11 presidents ago, the Hermleigh Cardinals enjoyed their last 10-0 regular season in 1960. This year, however, offered HHS an opportunity to snap that streak with a 9-0 start. 

They would only need to beat Ira last week in their season finale to make it happen. 

Well … it didn’t happen. In fact, it wasn’t even close. 

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2020 SIX-MAN DIVISION I PREVIEW: May and Ira enter as Top-10 squads

As strong as the Big Country is in Class 1A Division II, the area lacks for strength at the top of the Division I ranks.

Seventh-ranked May and No. 10 Ira are the lone squads in the top 20 of the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football/Associated Press state rankings entering the season.

Those two are expected to be the front runners this fall, but if you’re looking for a team that could turn brackets upside down, look no further than District 3-1A Division I with Knox City.

Read on to see how BigCountryPreps.com sees the area district races playing out this season.

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2020 SIX-MAN DIVISION II PREVIEW: Four teams vie to carry the flag

After dominating the field all year, the Big Country was surprisingly shut out of a trip to Arlington’s AT&T Stadium at the six-man level in 2019.

This fall seems to be shaping up for that to be a one-year aberration as Jayton, Blackwell, Strawn and Gordon enter the season ranked fifth through eighth, respectively, in the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football/Associated Press top 10 for Class 1A Division II.

Jayton and Strawn are perennial powerhouses that saw their 2019 seasons end with losses to eventual state champion Richland Springs, while Blackwell and Gordon had resurgences last fall before losing in the regional finals.

Who is this year’s surprise? BigCountryPreps.com is looking at the area districts to help you identify who that could be.

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EVAN REN: We’re pushing ahead at Big Country Preps — getting the the ball rolling

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” — John Lubbock

My business partner, Daniel Youngblood, is the king of not worrying.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

If NASA were to announce that an asteroid impact was imminent in 15 minutes and that Abilene would be at ground zero, anything beyond a shrug of the shoulders from Youngblood would surprise me. Of course, I wouldn’t be there to see it. I’d be 25 miles down the road with the accelerator smashed to the floor, one hand on the steering wheel and a rabbit’s foot in the other.

The recent turmoil in the world has put both of our natures on display — him letting it all roll off his back and me, well … being me.

If fate allows it, a return to normalcy is the objective here and the sooner the better. As the designated worrier at Big Country Preps, I’ve been on pins and needles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive social unrest created by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And let’s just call it what it was — a murder.

That said, I’m currently doing my best to steal a page from the Youngblood stress-free handbook and turning my attention from our tumultuous, viral-plagued world to something I can understand: football. That means that heading into the summer months, we’ll be diving headlong into our previews for the upcoming season.

Continue reading “EVAN REN: We’re pushing ahead at Big Country Preps — getting the the ball rolling”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Jayton standouts may very well have reached state tennis tournament

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.

For those who keep track of Big Country high school athletics, the names of Tye Scogin and Tripp Scott are likely to ring a bell. The Jayton High School standouts have become familiar to area fans as key elements in back-to-back trips to the state basketball tournament by JHS. 

What very few realize, however, is that they were about to form what was anticipated to be one of the area’s top boys doubles teams in tennis — one that may have had a shot at a regional title and trip to state. 

We’ll never know. 

With the University Interscholastic League’s mandatory lockdown of all school activities across Texas due to COVID-19 and the subsequent cancellation of all spring sporting events as a safety measure, the Scogin and Scott duo never had a chance to materialize.

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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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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Trips to state in multiple sports stopped suddenly for HHS Gonzales

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.

Makia “Kiki” Gonzales claims she knew nothing about the shot put when she began throwing it in the seventh grade.

“I knew nothing except the slide, you know where you move sideways across the ring to throw it,” the Hermleigh senior said. “My coaches tried to get me to try another release like the spin, but I was comfortable with the slide. So we worked on getting lower in the ring so I could use all my strength from my arms and legs when I threw.”

Gonzales blossomed into a 5-foot-11 athlete with plenty of quickness, strength and power — all key ingredients for the shot put. She qualified for the UIL Class 1A State Track and Field Meet in the shot put as a freshman, sophomore and junior — finishing eighth, fourth and fourth, respectively. She threw her best of 39 feet, 7 inches at the 2019 regional meet.

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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: Loaded Ira Bulldogs felt this was their year

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.

When you’ve been in coaching as long as Toby Goodwin has, you know what an elite team looks like. 

So when the Ira coach says this year’s Bulldogs had a baseball state tournament appearance in their sights, he’s not just blowing smoke.

Unfortunately, neither he, his players or the Ira community will ever get a chance to find out just how good this year’s squad was. And instead of being remembered as the group that finally broke through for an Ira program that has been knocking at the door for years, the 2020 Bulldogs will be the one that (only) COVID-19 took down.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Baseball in the blood for Rotan’s Van Poppel

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.

Photos by Trish Hurt, Double Mountain Chronicle

With the last name he has, Cole Van Poppel was almost destined to end up on a pitcher’s mound.

For the Rotan senior and nephew of former major-leaguer Todd Van Poppel, baseball — and pitching, in particular — runs in the blood.

So to say it was tough to have his final high school season — and final opportunity to lead the Yellowhammers to the playoffs — cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak and the University Interscholastic League’s subsequent decision to cancel the 2020 spring sports season, is a fairly sizable understatement.

And though the opportunity to continue his career at Temple College and memory of pitching a perfect game in his final high school start serve as some consolation, part of him will always be left to wonder what might have been.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Baird’s top-ranked vaulters will have other opportunities

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.

Baird’s Rylan Rogers and Carsann Baker were the top-ranked pole vaulters in Class 1A through mid-March. Even though both had visions of winning a state championship in May, they figure to have other opportunities after spring sports were canceled this year.

Rogers, a Baird senior, plans to vault collegiately for McMurry’s NCAA Division III track and field program. Baker, a junior, hopes for a normal 2021 track and field season at Baird High School.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Gorman’s Madera never got a chance to long jump this year

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.

Genaro Madera Jr., better known as Jr. Madera around Gorman, was hoping to win a state championship in the long jump this spring and possibly receive an athletic scholarship offer to a smaller university or junior college.

Even though Gorman is a Class 1A school with a high school enrollment of less than 90 students, the coaching staff had helped seven athletes in the last three years earn college athletic scholarships in football, girls’ basketball, baseball, softball and track.

Madera had finished second at the 2019 UIL State Track & Field Meet in the Class 1A boys’ long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 6.75 inches. But the best jump of his junior season had been well over 21 feet.

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BCP Podcast No. 90: Gordon’s Reed joins Evan and Daniel for second time

Mike Reed is not just one of the most successful six-man coaches in the state. He’s also one of the thoughtful and inspirational leaders in the Big Country.

On Tuesday, Reed joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood to share his thoughts and perspective on the COVID-19 shutdown and what can be learned from it for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

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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FEATURE: Rotan softball still hoping for a chance to make it to state

Photos courtesy of Greg Decker

The Rotan softball team began the 2020 season looking to complete some unfinished business from last year. Now, the Lady Hammers are just hoping to have a 2020 season.

Rotan was one win away from advancing to the UIL Class 1A state tournament last season, but two one-run losses to Borden County left the Lady Hammers wanting a chance to finish the job this year. They even beat Borden County 7-2 during a tournament earlier this season.

But the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, stopped high school sports in Texas — along with a lot of other normal activities — after the first day of Rotan’s softball tournament March 12-14. Now the UIL has said the earliest high school sports could return is May 4, and some are wondering if it’s even possible to resume spring sports at all after losing seven weeks.

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BCP Podcast No. 86: Brandon McAuliffe joins Daniel to discuss coronavirus impact on state hoops, spring sports

With Evan Ren at home recovering from a bout with pneumonia and a week-long hospital stay, Big Country Preps contributor Brandon McAuliffe joins Daniel Youngblood for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

In this episode, Daniel and Brandon discuss the massive impact the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has had on the Big Country sports scene and country at large. 

STATE RECAP: Jayton boys fall to Slidell in 1A semis; competition suspended over coronavirus concerns

SAN ANTONIO — Jayton’s season didn’t end the way the No. 8 Jaybirds wanted it to Thursday morning, but at least the JHS boys basketball team got to take the court at the Alamodome.

Coach Ryan Bleiker’s squad fell 45-28 to No. 5 Slidell in the second of two Class 1A state semifinal games — one of just four contests completed before the University Interscholastic League suspended action on the 2020 boys basketball state tournament as a response to concern over the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

That means that San Saba’s Class 2A semifinal against top-ranked Martin’s Mill, originally slated for 8:30 a.m. Friday, will not be played as scheduled, if completed at all.

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BCP Podcast No. 85: Jayton’s Bleiker, San Saba’s Kyle talk state hoops with Evan, Daniel

Jayton boys basketball coach Ryan Bleiker has led the Jaybirds to their second state tournament appearance in as many years. San Saba’s Mark Kyle has led the Armadillos to their first state trip since 1928.

Earlier this week, both men took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about the challenge their teams face for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel recap last week’s boys basketball regionals.

BOYS BASKETBALL STATE PREVIEW: No. 8 Jayton prepped for state rematch with defending champ Slidell

After making their first state tournament appearance last March and coming within a single win of their first state title, the Jayton Jaybirds will have a chance to finish the job this year.

But fresh off a grueling run through the Region II-1A bracket, JHS will face another stiff test in their 2020 state opener. Standing between the No. 8 Jaybirds and the Class 1A crown is a semifinal matchup with the defending state champion and fifth-ranked Slidell Greyhounds — a team with which coach Ryan Bleiker and his players are quite familiar.

It was Slidell that ended Jayton’s championship hopes last year, defeating the Jaybirds 49-36 in the 2019 title game. Bleiker and Co. are intent on reversing that outcome when the teams meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, but the coach knows that won’t be easy.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Multi-talented AHS star Roberson takes top spot

Abilene High junior Trakenya (KK) Roberson is probably best known for her work on the basketball court, where she’s been weaving through defenses for one layup after another since she was a freshman. 

But this speedy standout’s skills aren’t confined to the hardwood. She’s also an excellent softball player where she serves as a starting outfielder and leadoff hitter for the 15-4 Lady Eagles.

Last week, she put her many talents on display in leading AHS to four wins in six games, earning Big Country Preps Player of the Week honors in the process. 

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