Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 5)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select 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.

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

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Comanche, Albany try to recapture their momentum (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 47-10, .824
SEASON TOTAL: 178-52, 773

For two straight weeks, the column has hit the mark on more than 80 percent of area picks, which is generally a sign that I’m dialed in. 

This week, the Big Country Preps Game of the Week travels northeast to Albany, where the Lions play host to Comanche in a final prep for district play for both clubs. 

While writing this, I can scarcely believe we’re at the season’s midpoint already, with most of our clubs playing their fifth games this Friday.  The annual football time warp is in full swing and it never ceases to amaze me after more than two decades in the business.,

Here’s this week’s forecast: 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK 

COMANCHE (3-1) at ALBANY (3-1) 

While I’m pleased to see Comanche taking a clear step forward under second-year coach Jake Escobar, I like the Lions to win this matchup, primarily due to defense.

To date, the Lions are allowing only 17 points per game and that’s while going up against some pretty explosive offenses.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT WEDNESDAY NIGHT PODCAST: Evan & Dan talk about the area’s top teams & biggest surprises

CAPITAL FARM CREDIT WEDNESDAY NIGHT PODCAST: Evan & Dan talk about the area’s top teams & biggest surprises, including Hawley, Albany, Cisco, Wylie, Stephenville, Brock, Clyde, Coahoma, Forsan, Coleman, De Leon, Hamlin and Stamford, Big Spring.

Continue reading “CAPITAL FARM CREDIT WEDNESDAY NIGHT PODCAST: Evan & Dan talk about the area’s top teams & biggest surprises”

GAME STORY: Abilene High stretches win streak to three with home sweep of Lubbock High

The Abilene High volleyball team continued its recent run of quality play Tuesday at Eagle Gym, sweeping Lubbock High 25-20, 25-20, 25-7 to improve to 3-1 in District 4-5A play.

The Lady Eagles, 12-14 overall, had one of their best offensive performances of the season, hitting .310 as a team to stretch their winning streak to three matches since opening league play with a loss to crosstown foe Wylie.

The victory kept AHS within a win of the district lead with two more matches remaining in the first half of district play.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned gets 14th win in last 15 matches with five-set thriller

TUSCOLA — The Jim Ned volleyball team, which has only lost one match since Aug. 23, has not been afraid to play outside their classification in order to get stronger heading into district play.

Last week, that meant the Lady Indians hit the road and played up three classifications, getting swept by Class 6A Midland Legacy, before playing down two classes on Tuesday night in a classic trap game against Class 1A Veribest — which entered the match at Bill Thornton Arena as the fourth-ranked team in the state.

Through three sets against the Lady Falcons, it looked like the trap was in full effect and the Lady Indians were looking ahead to their district opener against San Angelo Grape Creek. In the fourth set, though, Avery Vinson took over and led the Lady Indians to a thrilling 25-21, 23-25, 23-25, 25-11, 15-12 come-from-behind win as Jim Ned improved to 14-1 in its last 15 matches, having lost only seven sets in that span.

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FEATURE: Clyde off to great start with the help of defensive specialist

Photos by Rachel Laughlin and Tony Brockway 

Clyde’s Chloe Ukle works best under pressure.  

The senior libero thrives when opposing teams send volleyballs hurling her way, sprawling all over the court for digs.   

“What I love about being a libero is the control that I have of the back row,” Ukle said. “Knowing that I am in control of what goes on in the back row pushes me harder.”  

Ukle’s defensive efforts are a key reason the Lady Bulldogs are 20-12 heading into Tuesday’s non-district finale against Glen Rose. Despite facing difficult competition, Ukle leads the Big Country with 5.4 digs per set and has tallied 457 digs for the year.  

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FEATURE: Young Wylie squad working to build consistency as district play ramps up

Last year, the Wylie volleyball team finished the season perched on hallowed ground, setting/spiking/toughing its way to a 32-14 record en route to the Region I-5A quarterfinals. 

For those keeping score at home, that’s three rounds deep in the playoffs — marking the program’s deepest run since making the jump to Class 5A.

While coach Shay Cox appreciated the accomplishment of her very bulldog-ish Lady Bulldogs, she also knew every time she reviewed the list of the 2021 graduating players that replicating that kind of success and sustaining the momentum this season was going to be a tall order.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Brady quarterback snags this week’s award

With Brady going into Friday’s game at Dublin without a win, our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week played a huge role in ending the drought for the Bulldogs. 

Hitting 15 of 23 passes for 321 yards and one touchdown was just the beginning for quarterback Hayden Baronet, who led BHS (1-3) to a 62-42 win. Baronet also rushed for 127 yards on 23 carries and five additional TDs, giving him 448 yards in total offense and direct hand in six scores. 

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. II WEEK 4 REPORT: Cooper wins wild one, Wylie drops shootout as league posts 1-5 record

Cooper 33, Lubbock Coronado 28 — The Cougars hit a 64-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining to edge the Mustangs in a wild one.

Cooper led 27-7 at halftime, but Coronado (1-3) came all the way back in the second half to take a 28-27 lead in the fourth quarter. Down to their final possession after forcing a punt with less than two minutes remaining, the Cougars got a long touchdown pass from Chris Warren to Jaylen Parker that was tipped by a defender before being caught for the winning score.

Cooper finished with 376 yards of total offense, led by Warren, who passed for 334 yards with five touchdowns to five different players. Coronado, which finished with 298 yards, was paced by quarterback Jett Carroll, who passed for 158 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 47 yards and two more scores.

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DISTRICT 2-5A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: Eagles fall to Frenship on homecoming as league goes 3-4

Wolfforth Frenship 21, Abilene High 7 — The Eagles had another tough offensive game, falling to 1-3 with a two-touchdown loss to the Tigers on homecoming.

Abilene High outgained Frenship 290-285 yards, limiting the Tigers to 37 yards on 22 carries, but the Eagles could only put seven points on the board, scoring their only touchdown in the second quarter to pull within 14-7 at halftime.

Frenship was led in the win by quarterback Hudson Hutcheson, who passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns, and receivers Landon Hutcheson (15-120) and Tate Beeles (7-86, 2 TDs). AHS, meanwhile, got 211 passing yards for Dylan Slack, who threw one touchdown and three interceptions. Antoine Rashaw added 64 yards rushing on nine carries, and Ryland Bradford had a 65-yard touchdown reception. 

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GAME STORY: Hamlin runs all over Munday for Saturday night win

MUNDAY — Swenson Benavides, Colten Spalding and Hudson Smith all ran for more than 100 yards as the Hamlin offense piled up 568 total yards and the Pied Pipers spoiled Munday’s quadrennial homecoming celebration with a 53-8 win Saturday night at Scruggs Field.

Benavides (15-157) and Spalding (12-111) were both comfortably in the 100-yard club before Smith’s 18-yard run on the game’s final play pushed him to 104 yards on 13 carries as Hamlin continued its rebound from a disappointing 2021 season by picking up its third consecutive win.

The Pied Pipers have allowed just 10 points over the last three weeks with one more game remaining before the start of district play.

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DISTRICT 8-2A DIV. II WEEK 4 REPORT: Santo blows out Rio Vista to continue dominant start

rioSanto 34, Rio Vista 7 — The Wildcats stayed unbeaten with another impressive showing, outgaining the Eagles 289-168 in a blowout win.

Santo (4-0), which rushed for 343 of its yards, led 21-7 at halftime before shutting out Rio Vista over the final two quarters.

Quarterback Hut Thornton had a big day for the Wildcats, rushing for a team-high 142 yards and three touchdowns while Rodolfo Vega ran for 65 yards and a TD. Rio Vista was also led by its quarterback, Taylor Pritchett, who passed for 94 yards and rushed or 58 yards and a score.

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DISTRICT 3-2A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: Kligora, Forsan run wild in blowout win over McCamey

Forsan 33, McCamey 2 — The Buffaloes stayed unbeaten with a blowout win over the Badgers, increasing a 13-2 halftime lead to 26-2 after three quarters and cruising from there to their fourth consecutive victory.

Forsan gained 342 of its 352 yards on the ground, getting 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns from Kevin Kligora. Brooks Wright added 68 yards rushing on six carries, while Huston Stockton and Brycen Cervantes also had scoring runs for the Buffs.

The FHS defense was virtually flawless, keeping the McCamey offense off the board and improving its opponents’ scoring average to 11 points per game for the season.

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DISTRICT 10-2A DIV. II WEEK 4 REPORT: Hico falls to red-hot De Leon, Mart escapes upset, Frost no longer winless

De Leon 52, Hico 7 — The Bearcats ran away from the Tigers for their second consecutive win, racing out to a 38-0 halftime lead to end the competitive phase of the game early.

De Leon (3-1) got strong performances from quarterback Heston Jobe (9-11-0—220, 3 TDs passing; 8-108, 2 TDs rushing) and running back Kallen Mcilvain (16-186, 2 TDs rushing), while Jake Cooper (3-79, 1 TD) and Andrew Coan (2-86, 2 TDs) had big days receiving the ball.

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DISTRICT 4-3A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: Brock falls to 0-4 with loss to Gunter

Gunter 21, Brock 16 — The Tigers scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to erase a 3-0 halftime lead and held in the fourth quarter for a hard-fought victory over the Eagles.

Brock, which fell to 0-4 on the season, lost despite a 323-205 edge in total yardage. The Eagles were hurt by two turnovers, including a pick-six that gave Gunter a 21-10 lead with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Tyler Moody completed 16 of 31 passes for 177 yards with two touchdowns, but he also had two interceptions. Reid Watkins rushed for a team-high 75 yards for BHS, while Carson Finney (5-52 receiving) and Zachary Brewster (5-40) each hauled in touchdown passes.

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DISTRICT 5-3A DIV. II WEEK 4 REPORT: Area teams go 0-4 in rough week for league

Bangs 28, Merkel 13 — The Dragons rushed for 230 yards in a workmanlike win over the Badgers, racing out to a 21-7 halftime lead and holding from there for the victory.

Guy Powell led the effort for Bangs, rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns, while Kenny Cole passed for 89 yards and Hunter Newton received for 63.

Merkel, which fell to 1-3 with the loss, was paced on the offensive end by quarterback Joey Zink (10-17-2—151, 1 TD passing; 19-71 rushing) and receiver Maddox O’Malley (5-102, 1 TD receiving; 1-1-0—49, 1 TD passing). 

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DISTRICT 6-2A DIV. II WEEK 4 REPORT: Roscoe, Cross Plains among league’s winners in Week 4

Roscoe 58, Sterling City 18 — Jax Watts threw for 217 yards and four scores and rushed for 17 yards and an additional touchdown to help Roscoe to an easy win over Sterling City. 

Playing their first game in three weeks due to a cancellation, the Plowboys built a 24-6 halftime lead before blowing the game open with a 20-6 third quarter. 

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DISTRICT 5-2A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: De Leon, San Saba and Bangs all pick up victories

De Leon 52, Hico 7 — The Bearcats ran away from the Tigers for their second consecutive win, racing out to a 38-0 halftime lead to end the competitive phase of the game early.

De Leon (3-1) got strong performances from quarterback Heston Jobe (9-11-0—220, 3 TDs passing; 8-108, 2 TDs rushing) and running back Kallen Mcilvain (16-186, 2 TDs rushing), while Jake Cooper (3-79, 1 TD) and Andrew Coan (2-86, 2 TDs) had big days receiving the ball.

Hico, which was limited to 249 yards (all rushing), was led by Carson Keller, who rushed for 115 yards and the Tigers’ only touchdown on 12 carries.

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DISTRICT 3-4A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: Snyder falls to Monahans; Sweetwater can’t solve Big Spring

Monahans 48, Snyder 21 — The Tigers couldn’t keep up with the Loboes, allowing 35 first-half points in a lopsided loss to MHS.

Snyder (2-2) finished with just 285 yards of total offense, passing for 140 and rushing for 145. Monahans, meanwhile, gained 397 total yards — 275 on the ground — and took advantage of two Tiger turnovers.

SHS was led in the loss by Easton Stewart, who went 13-of-18 passing for 127 yards with two touchdown and an interception while adding 35 yards rushing. Dom Dominguez, meanwhile, added 82 yards and one TD rushing wand 37 yards and another score receiving.

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DISTRICT 4-3A DIV. II WEEK 4 REPORT: Coahoma shuts down Colorado City

Coahoma 35, Colorado City 7 — The Bulldogs (3-1) won their third straight game since a season-opening loss to Forsan.

Boyd Cox threw for 234 yards, spread among six different receivers. 

Coahoma charted 158 team rushing yards among six different ball carriers, with Jaidyn Vineyard topping that list with 79 yards and two scores. 

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DISTRICT 2-3A DIV. II WEEK 4 REPORT: Early defense shuts down Troy (Brady, Wall impressive in wins)

Early 26, Troy 0 — The Longhorns leveled their record at 2-2 with their top all-around performance to date. 

Jaxyn Price threw for 159 yards and two scores and Kaleb Ozona rushed for 31 yards and another score to lift Early, which limited Troy to 104 total yards while forcing two turnovers. 

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DISTRICT 2-4A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: Big Spring takes care of Sweetwater to improve to 3-1

Big Spring 20, Sweetwater 7 — Gavin Padron passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns while Kavien Ford rushed for 96 yards to fuel the Steers to a two-touchdown win over  the Mustangs.

Big Spring, which improved to 3-1 with the victory, outgained Sweetwater 401-159 and held a 3-2 advantage in the turnover margin. Despite this, the Steers trailed 7-0 after one quarter and were tied 7-all at halftime, before taking control of the game with a pair of scores in the third quarter.

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DISTRICT 3-3A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: Indians break into the win column with victory over Rockdale

Jim Ned 22, Rockdale 21 — Brayden Shipman rushed for 84 yards and two scores and Troy Doran threw for 83 yards and another touchdown as Jim Ned (1-3) chalked up its first win of the year. 

The Indians trailed 14-7 at the break and 21-14 at the end of three quarters. But a 24-yard TD pass from Doran to Breydon Walker in the fourth quarter, followed by a two-point conversion run by Doran, proved to be the difference. 

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DISTRICT 5-4A DIV. I WEEK 4 REPORT: Unbeaten China Spring hands Connally its first loss of the season

China Spring 51, Connally 21 — Cash McCollumn threw for 177 yards and a score and Kyle Barton rushed for 91 yards and three more TDs as the Cougars remained unbeaten. 

China Spring quickly gained control, racing out to a 27-7 halftime lead and was never threatened after that. 

The Cougars (4-0) outgained Connally 370-239, including 193 yards rushing. 

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GAME STORY: Maruska, Stephenville hold off Wylie in offensive shootout

For the second straight week, the Wylie football team went toe to toe with an outstanding opponent at Hugh Sandifer Stadium. But for the second straight week, the Bulldogs came up one touchdown short of a signature win.

Hosting Class 4A Division I No. 1 Stephenville a week after falling 33-28 to Lubbock Cooper, coach Clay Martin’s team topped the 500-yard mark for the second time in as many weeks. But it couldn’t contain Tate Maruska and the Yellow Jackets offense in a 56-49 loss.

Maruska, who came into Friday’s game with a Big Country-leading 773 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, ran for 270 yards and five scores against the Bulldogs to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in just four games and fuel the unbeaten Jackets to a thrilling win.

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GAME STORY: Brownwood defense silences shorthanded Glen Rose.

BROWNWOOD — With an unbeaten but shorthanded Glen Rose team coming to Gordon Wood Stadium on Friday, the Brownwood Lions were well prepared for the normally explosive Tigers. 

With standout Glen Rose quarterback Hudson White out with an injury, the Lions held the Tigers to a season-low 275 yards in total offense in a 17-3 win. 

Ike Hall threw for 94 yards, rushed for 53 and accounted for two scores to lead Brownwood (3-1), which notched its third straight win since a season-opening loss to Wylie. 

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GAME STORY: Frenship’s defense spoils Abilene High’s homecoming

The Abilene High football team entered Friday’s homecoming game against former district foe Wolfforth Frenship desperately needing to find some rhythm on offense heading into next week’s District 2-5A Division I opener against Lubbock Monterey.

AHS’ coaching staff made several changes to the starting lineup against the Tigers with De’Zhon Magee taking over at running back behind a revamped offensive line that saw two sophomores (Shetonde Polepole and Jerrod Turner, both as tackles) and junior right guard Boss Brake start alongside seniors Miguel Hernandez (left guard) and Alex Mehaffey (center).

Despite the lineup changes, the Eagles fell short in a 21-7 defeat to the Tigers at Shotwell Stadium.

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GAME REPORT: Warren throws five TD passes to fuel Cooper to wild win at Coronado

Photos by Autumn Bippert, HubCityPreps.com

LUBBOCK — Cooper quarterback Chris Warren threw for 334 yards and five touchdowns Friday, the last a 64-yarder to Jaylen Parker with less than a minute remaining in the game to lift the Cougars to a dramatic 33-28 win over Lubbock Coronado in a nondistrict matchup at Lowrey Field.

The first four of Warren’s touchdown passes came in the first half as Cooper rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to take a 27-7 lead at halftime. But the Mustangs buckled down after the break, scoring 21 unanswered points — one touchdown in the third quarter and two in the fourth — to take a 28-27 lead with 5:13 to play.

Down to their final possession several minutes later, the Cougars had a prayer answered as Warren had a deep pass ricochet off a defender’s hands and into Parker’s for what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown.

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FEATURE: Hawley’s Abbigail Siller proving a female football player doesn’t have to be a kicker

HAWLEY — Abbigail Siller grew up watching football with her family and was always drawn to the camaraderie she witnessed in the male-dominated sport.  And she wanted to take an active a part of it. 

Active, meaning she wanted to play and accept all the risks that being involved with the sport bring. The initial expectation by many around the program is that Siller would try her hand at place-kicking, which helped her parents become a little less apprehensive about her playing football. 

There was just one problem. 

“I originally told my parents I was going to be a kicker, but I’m terrible at kicking the ball,” said the 17-year-old senior, who is now a reserve running back and outside linebacker for the Bearcats (3-0) in her second year in the program. “They thought that’s what would happen and when I came back and told them that I was going to be a running back and outside linebacker and they were a little hesitant to let me keep going. But I chose to stick with it.” 

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FEATURE: Breckenridge QB not surprised by Buckaroos’ quick start in 2022

Breckenridge has surprised a few folks around the Big Country, racing off to a 3-0 start that includes wins over perennial powers Childress and Cisco.  

But senior quarterback Chase Lehr isn’t one of them.  

“I know all of the hard work we have put in,” Lehr said. “This is what we have been working up to for the past couple of years, and now it’s finally starting to show.”  

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FEATURE: Deep receiving corps proving to be major strength for explosive Wylie offense

Many high school quarterbacks would be happy to have one or two go-to receivers they can trust and depend on in pressure situations to make plays.

Wylie’s K.J. Long feels like he has four or five of those.

Blessed with the deepest and most talented receiving corps the Bulldogs have had in years, Long has led an offense that has averaged 470.7 yards and 29.3 points per game through the first three weeks of the season. And while a running game that is chewing up 243 yards per outing has played a significant role in WHS’ offensive success, the senior quarterback gives his pass-catchers a lot of credit for the team’s newfound explosiveness.

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FEATURE: Evans, Hamlin finding surprising success out of ashes of 0-10 campaign

When you score all of 28 points during an entire season and win none of 10 games in the process, there’s a tendency for your fans to figure that whatever happens the next year is bound to be better than what happened last.

But even the most ardent among the Hamlin Pied Piper faithful have been pleasantly surprised by how the team’s 2022 campaign has begun.

Take last week, for instance. Hamlin blanked Crosbyton 33-0 to run its record to 2-1. Coupling that triumph with a 6-2 victory over Water Valley the week before, the Pied Pipers have now put together a win streak. Even more importantly, they’ve shown that coach Chris Evans, who can find a silver lining among even the darkest of clouds, might have something in that mantra of his.

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FEATURE: Cooper offense finding stride in running game after slow start out of the gates

Through the Cooper football team’s first two games — losses to Keller and Abilene High — the Cougars struggled to find the level of consistency they’re accustomed to in the running game.

Behind an inexperienced line breaking in several new starters, CHS managed only 51 yards rushing on 29 carries in a 34-16 season-opening loss to the Indians before mustering 50 yards on 18 attempts in a 14-10 setback against its crosstown rival.

But after averaging a mere 2.1 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season, the Coogs experienced a breakthrough in last week’s 41-38 overtime win over San Angelo Central. And coming off that performance, which saw Cooper amass 257 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, coach Aaron Roan is hoping that level of success will be become a regular occurrence going forward.

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