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EXCLUSIVE: UIL Executive Director Breithaupt sits down with Big Country Preps (Part 2)

Editor’s note: This is the second half of a two-part Q&A with Dr. Charles Breithaupt, the Executive Director of the University Interscholastic League.

ARLINGTON — As the state championships were unfolding this past week, Big Country Preps had the chance to sit down with Dr. Charles Breithaupt and discuss different aspects of what this year has been like for the UIL as well as the 100th anniversary celebrations being held.

Part 1 of this two-part Q&A series focused on the celebrations of this year, the founding of the UIL and what all the League does for its member institutions. Dr. Breithaupt also addressed if he had any regrets from how this year has unfolded.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel (Week 16)

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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GAME RECAP: Cooper volleyball sees season end with loss to Canyon Randall

LUBBOCK — The Cooper volleyball team saw its playoff run and season come to an end Friday night, falling 25-13, 21-25, 25-18, 25-20 to Canyon Randall in a third-round match at Coronado High School.

The Lady Cougars, who were coming off their first two playoff victories since 2002, couldn’t extend their run against the defending Class 5A runner-up Lady Raiders, who also ended Wylie’s season in the opening round of the postseason.

With the loss, Cooper closed its season at 14-10.

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Class 4A Area Round Report: Springtown too much for Big Spring in shutout


Springtown 56, Big Spring 0 — The Porcupines were too much for the Steers on Friday, using a 483-237 yardage gap and 6-1 advantage in the turnover margin to score a shutout victory.

Big Spring quarterback Gabriel Baeza passed for 182 yards and rushed for a team-high 46 yards, but he was hurt by four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Springtown, which led 35-0 by halftime, was paced by quarterback Camden Chesney, who threw four touchdown passes, and Dakota Strahan, who rushed for two scores and added a pick-six on defense. 

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VIDEO PODCAST NO. 11: Dublin coach Bob Cervetto joins the show and bids farewell after retirement announcement. Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood examine this week’s area playoff pairings. 

Top games of this week discussed: All playoff pairings involving Big Country teams from Class 2A-4A this week are mentioned. 

Top games of last week discussed: Wall vs. Boyd. Cisco vs. Stamford. Forsan vs. San Saba. Big Spring vs. El Paso Riverside. Jim Ned vs. Paradise. Canyon Randall vs. Wylie. Abilene vs. Frenship. Abilene Cooper vs. Saginaw.

BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lingleville’s Juarez takes the award for Week 5

Because six-man football is indeed, a different game than the 11-man variety, it presents a challenge when selecting our Player of the Week.  

The games are different, they therefore, produce numbers that are different. 

However, there are those moments each season when a six-man football player will post statistics that defy description. And it’s during those moments that we reserve our top spot for Class 1A.

Lingleville sophomore spreadback Izrael Juarez is the first to produce one of those moments in 2020, with an astonishing performance in last week’s 70-59 win over Moran.  

Aside for rushing 14 times for 260 yards and five TDs, Juarez hit 9 of 11 passes for 158 yards and an additional six scores.

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FEATURE: Goldthwaite QB Patrick is Eagles’ link to winning mindset

Football coaches looking to rebuild a program often seek leadership from players who have won in other sports. In Goldthwaite, where the once-high flying Eagles enter this season having lost 21 of 24 games, that link is Jackson Patrick.

As a freshman, Patrick helped the Goldthwaite boys’ golf team win the Class 2A state championship as the Eagles’ No. 4 golfer. As a sophomore, he played a big role off the bench for Goldthwaite’s district championship boys’ basketball team.

“Winning is a mindset,” said Patrick, a junior quarterback and defensive back in football. “We talk about winning every rep in every drill in practice, and winning every play in the games. You don’t win football games just on Friday night. You win during practice and conditioning and doing the hard stuff.

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Football is fast approaching, and we at are committed to bringing you the information you need to prepare for your favorite team’s season.

We’ll be releasing our Big Country Preps Preseason Football Preview, the most comprehensive look at the upcoming Big Country football season anywhere, on Friday, Aug. 14. But you won’t have to wait until then to sate your gridiron appetite.

Leading up to the first day of fall football practice on Aug. 3, we’ll be spotlighting each 11-man team in the area and posing some of the key questions they’ll face in 2019 as part of our “Countdown to Two-a-Days” series.

After featuring Jim Ned on Friday, we stay in District 3-3A Division I with the Wall Hawks. On Sunday, we will take a look at the Brock Eagles followed by the Snyder Tigers on Monday.

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Seniors’ response to COVID-19 shutdown one we all could learn from

The 2019-20 school year is officially over, and a new crop of seniors will soon be ushered into the “real world.”

In that way — and that way only — this year is like most before it. 

But anyone who’s been conscious the past three months knows this is not a normal year. The COVID-19 outbreak has made sure of that, impacting lives worldwide and, on a local level, stripping this graduation class of the pomp and circumstance typically reserved for graduating seniors.

While the virus itself has hit certain age groups harder than others, the effects of this global pandemic have spared no demographic. And among those most impacted in the Big Country have been the aforementioned seniors, who have not only lost their spring sport seasons (and had their athletic careers ended prematurely, in many cases) but have also lost many of the rights of passage and memories many associate with their final year of high school.

But if you think it’s all negative or just need some hope for the future, I would encourage you to check out our What Might Have Been feature series. Because revealed in these stories of the area players and teams most affected by the COVID-19 shutdown is a maturity that makes this group as well equipped as any I’ve seen to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Merkel’s next track star lost a year of development

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

—Photos by Brit Pursley

The COVID-19 “What Might Have Been” story of Alyssa O’Malley is not one of an athlete losing her senior year of spring sports. It’s a story of a promising sophomore losing a season of development as a budding track and field star.

Kaydi Pursley, who did lose her senior spring sports season, rightfully earned the badge as Merkel’s star athlete in basketball and track this year. She averaged 17 points for the Merkel girls’ basketball team, which finished 22-8 last season and advanced to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. In track, the Abilene Christian University signee entered this year as a three-time state qualifier in the 300-meter hurdles and an 11-foot pole vaulter.

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BREAKING: UIL cancels the remainder of spring sports seasons

The official notice, released by the UIL on Friday: 

With the announcement from Governor Greg Abbott that all Texas schools are to remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of this school year, and in an effort to help protect the health and safety of Texans, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is canceling all remaining 2019-2020 spring activities and state championships.

“Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “Our highest priority during this challenging time is ensuring the health and safety of our students and communities and making progress in the containment of COVID-19 in Texas. We are now turning our attention to the 2020-2021 school year.”

BIG COUNTRY PREPS Q&A: FCA Area Director Andy Penney provides updates on All-Star Festival

The Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes is like everyone else in the sports world these days.

With the Big Country All-Star Festival scheduled for early June, the FCA is not sure if, or when, it will be able to host the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has the entire country at a standstill.

The FCA is stuck in a holding pattern due to the uncertainty of what the University Interscholastic League is going to do. Currently the UIL has stopped all activity for athletics and fine arts through the first weekend of May.

Sunday afternoon, Andy Penney of the Big Country FCA chapter took some time to discuss the evolving situation with and talked about how the local group is proceeding during this unprecedented time.

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EVAN REN: Sometimes a tough experience can have some value

I’ve never been very good at appreciating the little things. You know, like being able to feed myself, shower, go to the bathroom or get out of bed without assistance.

They didn’t even register on my radar.

They were like “automatics” — things that were so routine and so mundane that they didn’t warrant any thought. 

That is, until I needed help doing them. 

In case you haven’t heard, I’m coming off a tough experience — one that saw me hospitalized for eight days with pneumonia (not coronavirus). 

A sniffle brought home from Lubbock on March 7 had become a full-blown cold by March 8. A day later, I awoke, convinced I was drowning. By that afternoon, I was checked in to Hendricks Medical Center in Abilene, where I would remain, largely bedridden, for more than a week. 

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Uncertainty hits home amid coronavirus response

A week ago Monday, my partner Evan Ren and I were sitting down to do interviews with Jayton’s Ryan Bleiker and San Saba’s Mark Kyle for our weekly podcast.

Evan was planning his trip to San Antonio to cover those men’s teams at the University Interscholastic League’s boys basketball state championships, and I was prepping for a baseball tournament that was scheduled to be held here in Abilene over the weekend.

As it turned out, neither of us would reach our destination.

Instead, Evan was hospitalized Tuesday for a case of pneumonia that would put him on the shelf for a week, and most of what I was planning to cover in his stead was canceled or postponed amid growing concern over the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

What a difference a week makes.

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FEATURE: Multi-sport experience, success at heart Jayton’s confidence, poise

Between the No. 1 ranking they held for most of the 2019 football season and the target that comes with being a defending state runner-up in basketball, the Jayton Jaybirds have played more pressure-packed games this school year than some programs do in a decade. 

But when you’ve been as successful as the JHS athletic program has been in recent years, you grow accustomed to the big stage.

So if coach Ryan Bleiker’s Jaybirds don’t seem as nervous as they should heading into their second consecutive appearance at the Class 1A boys basketball state tournament in San Antonio, you’ll have to excuse them. This group of Jayton athletes has been groomed for moments such as these.

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BCP Podcast No. 83: Brock coach Shawna Lavender joins the show to talk hoops with Evan and Dan

With the surviving area girls teams heading into their various regional tournaments and the boys moving into the area round, Evan and Daniel to take a look at the most recent area results and pairings.

Tonight, they are joined by Brock coach Shawna Lavender, whose Lady Eagles will be facing Idalou in the Region I-3A tournament in Plainview on Friday.