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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.
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.
Football is fast approaching, and we at BigCountryPreps.com 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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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 BigCountryPreps.com and talked about how the local group is proceeding during this unprecedented time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Breckenridge football coach Casey Hubble has been named as the new head football coach-athletic director by Canton ISD in a school board meeting held today.
Hubble, who coached the Buckaroos from 2014-2019, posted a 29-40 overall record through six seasons at BHS.
His final Breckenridge team finished at 1-9, missing the playoffs for the first and only time during his tenure there.
“I’m unbelievably grateful and fortunate to have spent the last six years in Breckenridge,” Hubble said. “I met some unbelievable people and I’m proud of what we were able to get accomplished there.
“I’m very grateful to the kids who I’ve had the opportunity to work with and some of the families I’ve gotten to know and become friends with.
“The opportunity at Canton popped up and it was something I couldn’t pass up. For the last six years, Breckenridge has been my main focus and it seemed like this was an opportunity I needed to take. So I’m going to take it.
“Breckenridge will always be a special place to me and I’m just grateful to the people I’ve met there. I love the kids and I hope to continue the relationships I’ve been able to build there.
“My family and I will miss it greatly.”
Prior to this season, Nadir Dalleh had never coached even one player who scored 1,000 points during his basketball career. He’s now on the verge of having three 1,000-point scorers on the same team as head coach of the Brownwood Lions.
Center Zach Strong and guard Adonis (A.J.) McCarty already have surpassed the 1,000-point mark for their Brownwood High School careers. Guard John Wilhelm needs 78 points to join them, and considering he averages 16 points per game and the Lions have four regular-season games plus the playoffs remaining, he seems a safe bet to make it a trio.
“I’ve never had one do it. To have two do it and one more close shows the success of these guys,” Dalleh, the Lions’ fourth-year head coach, said of his top three seniors. “They love the game and they’ve been willing to work to do what it takes to get better.”