Tag: Albany Lions

BCP COUNTDOWN TO TWO-A-DAYS: Albany Lions

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 Roscoe on Friday, we move to  District 8-2A Division II with the Albany Lions. On Sunday, we will take a look at the Cross Plains Buffaloes, followed by the Hico Tigers on Monday.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Even Albany’s Faith is in uncharted territory during pandemic

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.

Albany’s Denney Faith is used to recognizing a challenge and then tackling that task head-on.

You don’t win 307 football games and get a field named in your honor without thriving in adverse situations.

But nothing in Faith’s first 33 years as the Lions’ head football coach could have prepared him for the uncertainty of leading an athletic program in the middle of a pandemic.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Co-aces West, Neve had Albany poised for state tournament return

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 leading the Albany baseball program to its second state tournament appearance in a three-year span last season, Lions coach David Fairchild didn’t have to squint too hard to envision a similar run this spring.

The 27-year coaching veteran had graduated just three seniors from last year’s 23-8 squad and was returning a pair of pitching aces in senior Ben West and junior Cade Neve.

Those realities — and the 7-0 start to which they heavily contributed — have only made things more difficult for Fairchild and his Lions since their season was halted in its tracks by the COVID-19 outbreak and the University Interscholastic League’s related decision to suspend all sanctioned activities in mid March.

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FEATURE: Albany coach Denney Faith talks about the 300-win milestone

Denney Faith addresses his team during a 2019 playoff game

ALBANY —It will be among the top stories in the Big Country during the upcoming high school football season, and it won’t lack for attention. 

Television, radio, newspapers and websites will descend upon Albany to ask long-time coach Denney Faith about the 300-win milestone that he is poised to reach with just one more win. 

Faith, however, could do without all of the fuss. Talking about the milestone, which he narrowly missed during last year’s 9-6 campaign, is something he’d prefer talking about post-season, or better still, post-retirement.  

Nonetheless, Faith (299-101-4) agreed to speak about the approaching 300 mark and all that entails in this Q&A with  BigCountryPreps sportswriter Evan Ren . 

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ALBANY TEAM PREVIEW: Lions sporting deep, talented roster

ALBANY — If ever a tale of two seasons was told in Albany, 2018 would have been the year. 

Having suffered through its first 0-5 start since the mid 1950s, the Lions awakened heading into district, reeling off five straight wins, including a victory over a favored Hamlin team. AHS went on to knock off four straight teams in postseason play, including Hamlin again before falling in the 2A DII state semis to Gruver. 

The question heading into 2019 is, can the Lions carry their late-season momentum into this year? 

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PHOTO GALLERY: 7-on-7 Division III state qualifying tournament (93 images)

Photos may be purchased for $7 each by clicking on the small shopping cart emblem below the lower right corner of the gallery. Our company watermark “BigCountryPreps.com” will be removed from all purchased photos.

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GAME STORY: Albany’s postseason run ends with 4-1 loss to Big Sandy

ROUND ROCK — It took a Division I-caliber pitcher throwing for the defending state champions to finally bring Albany’s season to a close in the Class 2A state semifinals on Wednesday at Dell Diamond. 

Texas Tech-bound Brandon Hendrix worked six solid innings with 12 strikeouts, while Broch Holmes and Graden Emmons were both 2 for 3 with an RBI triple to lead Big Sandy to a 4-1 win over Albany. 

With the game remaining scoreless through 4½ innings, Big Sandy struck for three runs on three hits, including the triples by Holmes and Emmons, to give the Wildcats the lead for good. Big Sandy (35-4) now advances to Thursday’s state title game, where it will to face Linden-Kildare, a 5-0 winner over Valley Mills in Wednesday’s other semifinal. 

The 2A title game is set for noon at Dell Diamond. 

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EVAN REN: Albany to pull out all the stops against state champs in Round Rock

Sooner or later, the road to a state championship was going to lead through Big Sandy anyway. So the Albany Lions (23-7) may as well face the top-ranked Wildcats (34-4) in the state semifinals.

Why waste time? 

The Lions will square off with the defending state champs at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond. The winner advances to face either Valley Mills (28-6) or Linden-Kildare (20-9) for the state title at noon on Thursday. 

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FEATURE: Albany’s Hill grateful for 11th-hour opportunity, lessons learned from it

ALBANY — It wasn’t until the cusp of his graduation that Albany senior Ryan Hill was finally able to do what he had worked toward for months — play on the 2019 AHS baseball team. 

Hill, a multi-sport standout who will be playing football at Hardin-Simmons University this fall, virtually shredded his right knee while playing basketball for the Lions in January — ending his high school hoops career in a split second.

Whether he could make it back in time for baseball depended on two things: First, an unparalleled response to rehab work. And second, a deep playoff run by Albany that could buy him just enough time to contribute something — anything — on the diamond. 

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FEATURE: Albany’s run to region semis continues trend of baseball success for Lions

With the run of success the Albany baseball team has had the past five years, it should surprise no one that the Lions are back in the region semifinals.

Coach David Fairchild’s team has advanced to at least the third round of the playoffs every year since 2015, with a trip to the Region I-2A championship game in 2016 and the program’s first state tournament appearance in 2017.

With four players on their roster who played on that state team, the Lions have a small nucleus of upperclassmen who know what that experience is like. And those guys have a whole bunch of teammates who are eager to find out themselves.

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FEATURE: Albany benefiting from latest West installment

Two of his three older brothers — Gus and Ligon — have helped pitch the Stamford Bulldogs into the state tournament in recent years. 

So it may come as no surprise that 17-year-old Albany junior Ben West has made a splash this season as one of the top small-school pitchers in the Big Country. 

The only difference is, this particular West model will be sporting red, rather than blue, when Albany and Haskell meet in a three-game regional quarterfinal series, beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday at McMurry. 

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GAME STORY: Hawley edges Albany 3-2, takes district lead

ALBANY — A troublesome first inning and a late unearned run were all that separated area rivals Hawley and Albany in Friday’s District 8-2A showdown at AHS. 

Hawley’s Dylan Frazier outdueled Albany’s Ben West in a 3-2 win for the Bearcats, who gradually built a 3-0 lead before surviving a seventh-inning rally by the Lions. 

Kolter Willeford with 1 for 2 with a walk, a sacrifice and two RBIs and Robert Ybarra plated two runs to lead Hawley, which managed to pull off the win despite charting only four hits.  

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FEATURE: Albany, Stamford, set to clash in glimpse of the future

Missy Dutchover’s Stamford  girls team has posted a 20-9 with only one senior. The Lady Bulldogs and a burgeoning team in Albany are both on a rapid ascent with very young talent.

Many of those who follow girls basketball in the Big Country are acutely aware of the highly successful program in Haskell and of its dominance in District 8-2A. 

Haskell, however, may soon have some highly competitive company within the confines of its own league — perhaps as early as next year.

Burgeoning programs in Albany (17-8, 5-1 District 8-2A) and Stamford (20-9, 4-2) have not only taken significant steps forward this year, but have done so with sophomore-heavy rosters that, with typical progression, could improve dramatically over the next two seasons.  

The two teams will meet in the opening game of Friday’s girls-boys doubleheader in Albany, in what could be viewed as a glimpse into the future of Big Country Class 2A girls basketball. In the present, however, a No. 2 playoff seed is the prize both young teams are after.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Evan Ren’s Top 100 football photos for 2018

FEATURED SCHOOLS: Albany, Anson, Baird, Breckenridge, Brock, Brownwood, Clyde, Coahoma, Colorado City, Comanche, Cross Plains, Dublin, Eastland, Forsan, Hamlin, Haskell, Jim Ned, Merkel, Snyder, Stamford, Stephenville, Wall and Winters.

Photos may be purchased for $7 each by pushing the small shopping cart emblem below the lower right corner of the gallery.

Will Albany’s Faith return to his I-formation roots?

With the graduation of much of his key skill personnel from last year’s 13-1 team, Albany coach Denney Faith has reached a point of decision.

A solid offensive line is in place. The quarterback situation isn’t hashed out yet. There is a smallish but stout fullback and an excellent running back. In other words, many of the ingredients are in place for a possible return to the playbook on which Faith built his career: the I-formation.

But, before any old-time football purists get their hopes up, the Albany staff will be evaluating the Lions during preseason workouts to decide the best direction to go — either retaining the spread attack they have used with a high degree of success over the last two years, or returning to Faith’s smash-mouth ways of old.

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Albany Lions banking on mix of vets, youngsters

How one places Albany in their preseason projections is a matter of perspective.

While the returning numbers aren’t fabulous (six offensive and five defensive starters among 12 lettermen), the Lions do return a core group of exceptional players. And while the junior varsity was an uncustomary 7-3 last year, two of those losses were to Class 3A powers Cisco and Colorado City.

So the question is, will Albany take a major step back from last year’s 13-1 overall mark?

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BCP Podcast No. 7: Evan, Dan talk football with Wichita Falls’ Zach Duncan

Zach Duncan

Like Big Country Preps co-founders Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood, Wichita Falls Time Record News area writer Zach Duncan has been covering high school sports in his market for a long time.

Entering his 15th football season with the Wichita Falls newspaper, Duncan has seen more great games than he can count and worked with some outstanding coaches and players. This week, he took some time to share some his favorite football stories and talk shop with Evan and Daniel.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss District 3-3A Division I and District 7-2A Division II — two all-area leagues that should be competitive from top to bottom.