Here are the Big Country’s rushing leaders through Week 8:
When I hear about someone having a direct hand in nine touchdowns, my first thought is: which six-man team does he play for?
But Sweetwater junior Leo Holsey managed it at the Class 4A level, on the road in a crucial 62-39 win at Pecos that clinched the District 1-4A DII championship.
Is he our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week?
Uh … yeah.
Holsey, who hit 11 of 15 throws for 283 yards and five touchdowns, was nearly as devastating with his feet, rushing for 233 yards and four more scores on only 11 carries.
In what many people are calling one of the worst years in United States history, 2020 did offer us a sprinkling of bright spots, one of which was high school football.
In Texas, we’re playing it.
We’re masked up. We’re socially distanced. We’re crossing our fingers. And in the process, we’re seeing our share of gridiron surprises — big surprises throughout the Big Country.
Though it isn’t over yet, I’ve catalogued the things that have stunned me the most on area football fields, limiting my list to a top 10.
Let’s dive (or stumble) in, shall we?
TUSCOLA — If anyone doubted that Jim Ned’s Xavier Wishert is one of the premier running backs in the Big Country, he furnished 211 yards worth of proof in Friday’s Big Country Preps Game of the Week.
Scoring three of Jim Ned’s four touchdowns in a 28-8 win over perennial power Wall, Wishert was the primary weapon in an Indian attack that scratched out 324 total yards.
The Jim Ned defense took much of the spotlight as well, limiting Wall’s vaunted option game to 222 total yards (all on the ground) to lift the Indians (5-1, 2-0 District 3-3A DI), who are now in the district driver’s seat. It was the fifth straight victory for Jim Ned since a season-opening loss to Ballinger.
Wall (4-3, 1-1) was led by Dominic Garcia, with 100 yards on 20 carries.
COMANCHE — Behren Morton hit Payton McClain with three scoring passes as Eastland handed previously unbeaten Comanche a 31-17 loss at CHS.
Trailing 7-0 early on, the Mavs (4-3, 2-0 District 5-3A DII) rallied with 24 straight points to earn their fourth straight win after an 0-3 start. Eastland’s 31-point night was far and away the most points allowed by Comanche, which had yet to surrender more than seven points to anyone in 2020.
The Indians fell to 6-1 and 1-1 with the loss.
Cooper running back Noah Garcia needed just four carries to eclipse the 103 yards necessary to pass Mike Rose as the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher Friday at Shotwell Stadium, setting the tone for a banner night in a 54-21 district-opening win over Justin Northwest.
The senior standout finished with 260 yards and four touchdowns on just 23 attempts to fuel the Cougars, who scored the final 30 points to turn a three-point game in the third quarter into a blowout victory.
SAN ANGELO — Mike Fullen made his return to the Abilene High sideline after missing his team’s first two games while undergoing cancer treatment, but the Eagles were unable to make his return a winning one in their District 2-6A opener against San Angelo Central.
AHS (0-3, 0-1) fell behind early and was never able to slow the Bobcat passing attack in a 53-32 loss Friday at San Angelo Stadium.
Central quarterback Malachi Brown passed for 336 yards and a school record-tying five touchdown passes as the Bobcats (1-3, 1-0) raced out to a 29-12 halftime lead and cruised from there to the three-score victory.
San Saba 49, Winters 0 — Stone Sears rushed for 99 yards and two scores and Risien Shahan threw for 201 yards and accounted for three TDs to lead San Saba to a win over the Blizzards.
The Armadillos (5-1, 2-0) finished with 505 yards in total offense, including 292 yards on the ground to remain in district title contention.
Anson 27, Forsan 23 — Anson overcame three turnovers by limiting its penalties to three and Forsan to a modest 274 yards in total offense.
With the win, Anson (5-1, 2-0) sets up a huge district showdown at home with Hawley (5-2, 2-0) next week for sole possession of first place in the district standings.
Jacksboro 47, Dublin 7 — JHS (5-2, 2-0) amassed 412 yards rushing to remain in contention for the district title.
Forcing four Dublin turnovers, the Tigers led 34-0 at the break and 47-0 at the end of three quarters before coasting to the finish line.
Albany 61, Ranger 0 — The Lions raced out to a 34-0 first-quarter lead on the Bulldogs and coasted from there to their fourth consecutive shutout victory.
Albany (6-1, 3-0) rushed for 331 yards in the win, getting at least 50 yards and at least one touchdown from five players. Brooks Neece led all rushers with 84 yards and a score on just five carries, while Taren Farmer (9-79, 1 TD), Jaheim Newton (3-60, 1 TD), Isaiah Dockins (4-57, 2 TDs) and Coy Lefevre (1-51, 1 TD) all also had productive days.
Hamlin 49, Roscoe 13 — Braydin Warner passed for two touchdowns and rushed for two more to lead the second-ranked Pied Pipers to a runaway victory over the Plowboys in a game that was pushed up due to COVID-related cancellations by the other three teams in this league.
Hamlin (7-0, 2-0) led 35-0 at halftime and increased that lead to 49 points in the third quarter before Roscoe (0-7, 0-1) added a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to avoid the shutout.
Brock 56, Ponder 19 — The top-ranked Eagles stayed perfect Friday, outgaining the Lions 502-238 in another dominating victory.
Cash Jones rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries as Brock (7-0, 4-0) raced out to a 34-13 halftime lead and coasted from there to the blowout win.
Sweetwater 62, Pecos 39 — Quarterback Leo Holsey had a hand in all nine of the Mustangs’ touchdowns, passing for five and rushing for four to help Sweetwater clinch at least a share of the District 1-4A Div. II title with a win over Pecos.
SHS (6-1, 3-0) led by just seven at halftime (34-27) but was able to pull away after the break, outscoring the Eagles 15-6 in the third quarter and 13-6 in the fourth.
Stephenville 56, Alvarado 21 — The Yellow Jackets bounced back from last week’s loss to Waco La Vega, using a 21-point first quarter to set the tone for a comfortable victory over the Indians.
Leading 28-14 at halftime and 35-21 after three quarters, the Yellow Jackets (4-4, 2-1) used a 21-0 run through the fourth quarter to put Alvarado (2-6, 0-3) away.
Andrews 56, Big Spring 35 — The Steers rallied from a 35-7 halftime deficit to pull within a touchdown in the final quarter, but the Mustangs closed the game with 14 unanswered points to squelch a Big Spring comeback.
Andrews (6-2, 1-0) outgained the Steers 593-411, passing for 369 yards and rushing for 224, but a 5-3 deficit in the turnover battle allowed Big Spring to fight its way back into the game in the second half.
Early 21, Breckenridge 0 — Early used one of its best defensive efforts of the year to score a crucial district win over Breckenridge.
Limiting the Buckaroos to 138 yards in total offense, Early patiently built a three-score lead over one of the teams considered to be a contender for the No. 4 playoff seed.
Bangs 47, Ingram Moore 15 — Bangs overcame a slow start with big nights from Ethan Sanchez and Ethan Cortez to improve to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in district.
Leading 19-15 at the break, the Dragons blew the game open with 28 unanswered second-half points.
Coahoma 20, Stanton 16 — Brysen Kerby rushed for 273 yards and three scores to help Coahoma slip past Stanton in district play.
With the score knotted at 14, Kerby scored what proved to be the game-winner at the 4:32 mark of the third quarter on a 2-yard run.
CROSS PLAINS — During his nine-year tenure at Cross Plains as both a track and football coach, Daniel Purvis has openly displayed an affinity for tough, hard-working, blue-collar types.
One family in particular — the McWilliamses — has not only typified the type of players Purvis wants on his team, but they have, through four siblings, spanned the entirety of his coaching career with the Buffaloes.
The last of the McWilliams boys to venture through Purvis’ program, 17-year-old senior Cody, is currently sitting atop the Buffaloes’ rushing statistics — a fact that for Purvis, comes as no surprise.
ABILENE HIGH (0-2, 0-3) AT SAN ANGELO CENTRAL (0-3, 0-0)
7 p.m. Friday at San Angelo Stadium, San Angelo
JUSTIN NORTHWEST (2-1, 0-0) AT COOPER (1-1, 0-0)
7 p.m. Friday at Shotwell Stadium, Abilene
Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-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.
Abilene High outside linebacker Nathan Guzman is the type program success story that interim Eagles coach Jeff Rhoads just loves.
A hard-working, team-first kid who has paid his dues and waited his turn, Guzman is finally getting his chance to shine this season as a senior. And in his first year as a starter after playing sparingly behind a talented group of backers last year, he is definitely making the most of it.
Through two games, Guzman leads the Eagles with 25 total tackles (18 solo) and two tackles for loss. And his two forced fumbles are second on the team behind only fellow senior Joseph Woodyard (3).
While that level of production has come as a surprise to some, including Guzman himself, Rhoads said it’s the culmination of years of hard work and should serve as an example to younger players of what can happen when one stays the course.
LAST WEEK: 33-2, .942
SEASON TOTAL: 250-62, .801
It took seven weeks of patience, but this column is now dialed in.
Charting a season-best 33-2 mark last week, its season pick total has hit the all-important (to me) 80-percent accuracy mark, despite a sluggish start.
Week 8, however, may bring a challenge to stay above that statistic, with a selection of games that are as difficult to pick as any we’ve seen this season.
Our top choice: Wall (4-2, 1-0) at Jim Ned (4-1, 1-0) in a game we’ve had an eye on since before the season started.
To the winner: The driver’s seat in District 3-3A DI, with what is projected to be its toughest opponent in the rearview mirror.
Cooper running back Noah Garcia has learned not to make plans in 2020.
In a year where virtually nothing’s been normal and change has been one of very few constants, experience has taught him the disappointment that doing so can bring.
But needing just 103 yards to overtake Mike Rose as the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher, the standout senior is hoping to reach that total sooner than later. After seeing his final high school campaign nearly lost to a once-in-a-century pandemic and having his final game against crosstown rival Abilene High taken from him by COVID-19 protocols, he doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.
VIDEO PODCAST NO. 8: Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood chat with Anson head coach Chris Hagler about last week’s win at Stamford and this week’s huge game at Forsan.
Other games discussed from last week: Santo at Cross Plains, De Leon at Coleman, and Greenwood at Sweetwater. From this week: Eastland at Comanche, Cooper vs. Northwest, Abilene at SA Central and Wall at Jim Ned.
The Bangs Lady Dragons handily defeated Dublin Lady Tuesday night in four sets: 25-5, 14-25, 25-12, 25-19.
Skylar Hutchins, had 23 digs, with additional help from Halle Lance and Jacee Miller to lead Bangs. The Lady Dragons’ offensive front capitalized on the help, with a total of 29 kills as a team.
“My girls started out really strong and were ready to come out and beat Dublin.” Bangs coach Cheyanne Lovelady said. “They were indeed ready as some of the girls showed out in a big way tonight, most notably from the serve line.”
Peyton Warren’s name is synonymous with Clyde volleyball.
The Lady Bulldogs’ program began eight years ago. Warren, who’s finishing up a stellar senior season, has been starting for half of that stretch.
As the curtain draws near on her final high school volleyball career, Warren admits there’s a different feeling now than in previous seasons.
Big Country Preps is publishing area volleyball statistical leaders each Tuesday 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 send in their statistics after deadline will be added to the lists below as we continually update the database.
Numbers alone don’t always take our Big Country Preps Player of the Week award, though they are usually the top consideration.
When things get close among the top candidates, other factors begin to weigh in. That was precisely the case with this week’s top spot, which goes to Anson junior quarterback Blake Vinson.
Vinson, who hit 23 of 32 passes for 367 yards and four scores in a 41-34 win over Stamford, had two factors in his favor that made his effort a bit more noteworthy than some of the area’s other top performances last week.
ALBANY — For a full year, Albany senior Barrett Beal had no choice but to be patient.
Ruled ineligible to play varsity football in 2019 after moving to AHS from Roscoe, the 18-year-old had to remain with the JV for a full season before being able to suit up for coach Denney Faith on a Friday night.
He is now making up for lost time.