Category: Winters Blizzards

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.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Young aces continue grind despite COVID-19 shutdown

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.

After flashing ace potential as freshmen in 2019, Jim Ned’s Tate Yardley, Anson’s Trevor Miller and Winters’ J.P. Killough had big things planned for their respective sophomore campaigns.

The three hurlers, part of a young crop of Big Country pitching standouts that also includes fellow sophomores Brooks Gay of Wylie and Snyder’s Derek Dominguez, were hoping to take the next step in their development and further cement their places among the area’s top arms.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent suspension/cancellation of all spring sport seasons by the University Interscholastic League limited their mound time to a handful of early-season outings. But it hasn’t kept them from continuing their pursuit of excellence.

All three have remained active in their training through the shutdown, viewing this period as little more as a speed bump on the way to their ever-increasing goals.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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BCP Podcast No. 91: Winters AD Matt McCarty chats with Evan, Daniel

Winters football coach and athletic director Matt McCarty has worked hard the past few years to build the Blizzards football team and WHS athletic program as a whole into a Big Country contender.

On Tuesday, he joined Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to talk about how he’s handling the COVID-19 shutdown and how this global pandemic has impacted his athletes and his program. 

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Winters girls expected a strong follow up to last year’s breakthrough season

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.

After Winters’ softball season came to an end against Haskell last spring, coach Kendra Bryant made her girls write a note to themselves.

Bryant then tucked those notes away inside the base of the bi-district trophy the Lady Blizzards had just captured. It was the program’s first postseason triumph since 2011. 

With every starter returning in 2020, the notes were to serve as reminders that aspirations naturally would be increasing. Bryant’s plan was for the girls to pull the notes out before district began and read over them.

“Last year winning that first playoff game, you would have thought we won state,” Bryant said. “I wanted them to think bigger.”

The notes still sit in the trophy base, never having been unsealed. Winters’ promising softball season, like so many others across the state, is put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Coaching change shifts Winters’ philosophy

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.

This was not how Derek Dallas and Brady Keane saw their first season with the Winters baseball team going.

Last year, Dallas was an assistant in Snyder before becoming the head baseball coach for the Blizzards this year. Keane, his assistant, was a sportswriter with the Denton Record-Chronicle covering high school athletics.

The duo spent this season working on reinvigorating the Blizzards baseball team and changing the mentality of the program.

To say that they were successful after 10 games, before the UIL shut down games due to the Coronavirus, would be a gross understatement.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Pitchers

After kicking off the spring sports season with our softball position rankings last week, it’s time to turn our attention to the the baseball field and the names we’ll be hearing and reading about throughout the 2020 campaign.

For the first installment in a five-part series that will cover all position groups on the area baseball scene, we’ll be taking a look at the Big Country’s top pitchers, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this fall.

We hope you enjoy reading through our list.

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BCP Softball Position Rankings: Infielders

After highlighting the top pitchers and catchers on the Big Country softball scene the past two nights, it’s time to turn our attention to the field.

For the third installment in our five-part position rankings series, we list our top-10 infielders in the area for the 2020 season.

We hope you enjoy reading through our rankings.

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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. 

BCP Softball Position Rankings: Pitchers

With softball season kicking off this week, it’s time to learn the names of or be reintroduced to the players you’ll be reading about throughout the 2020 campaign.

For the first installment in a five-part series that will cover all position groups on the area softball scene, we’ll be taking a look at the Big Country’s top pitchers, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this fall.

We hope you enjoy reading through our list.

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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.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Priddy’s Evans takes award after leading Lady Pirates to district title

While the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches does not have the Priddy girls basketball team ranked at the moment, the Lady Pirates (20-7, 11-0 District 17-1A) are making enough noise to get noticed. 

And with last week’s sweep of Lometa (51-29) and Cherokee (59-52), it’s beginning to look as though PHS is capable of doing some postseason damage. 

Our Player of the Week, senior Linda Evans, led that charge with a combined 60 points through two games, including a 36-point effort with four assists in a district-title clinching win over Cherokee. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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):

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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