Tag: Big Country Preps Preview

DISTRICT PREDICTIONS: Evan and Dan make their picks

Without further ado it is time for us to make our Big Country predictions, district-by-district.

This is the culmination of several weeks of research and two solid months of summertime labor, so we’re more than ready to post it. 

So dive in and study our take on the upcoming season, along with the more than 80 preseason stories we posted earlier today.  Enjoy!  We’ll see you on the road. 
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STEPHENVILLE TEAM PREVIEW: Yellowjackets hoping to avoid the medical tent

STEPHENVILLE — Rebuild or reload? 

When it comes to perennial power Stephenville, the latter is generally true. But in a season that features a coaching change and 30 lettermen to replace while playing in one of Texas’ toughest 4A districts, the Yellow Jackets may need time to regroup. 

Not to say Stephenville won’t be good. The ‘Jackets have two capable quarterbacks in Kade Renfro (100-186, 1,808, 16 TDs) and Cole Stanley (38-96, 720 yards, five TDs). They have an All-Big Country Preps caliber linebacker in Quinton Walker (100 tackles, 6.5 sacks) with a solid defensive line in front of him. 

They do, however, have considerable talent to replace as first-year coach Sterling Doty takes over the program. 

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FEATURE: Jim Ned’s Kimmel, Hayes among area’s best linebackers

TUSCOLA — There is perhaps no position in football that is more associated with aggression and toughness than that of linebacker. 

And with Jim Ned Indians working hard to shed their reputation as a basketball school in recent years, perhaps nothing illustrates their success in that endeavor more than their linebacking corps. 

Jim Ned, which enters the the 2019 season with legitimate district title hopes, has some of the best linebacking in the Big Country at any level. 

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JIM NED TEAM PREVIEW: Indians ready for dangerous district

TUCSOLA — With the exception of the days when Colt McCoy stood in the pocket at Jim Ned, the Indians have seldom been seen as a Region I threat in football. 

Until now. 

For those who haven’t noticed, the Indians are in the midst of a culture change. It started under former coach Jerod Womack and progressed even further last year under current mentor Matt Fanning.  Facing a monstrous schedule, the Indians posted a second straight 9-3 record last year, earning  a playoff spot in what has been rated as the second most difficult 3A district in Texas. 

Coming off their best two-year run in 15 years, the Indians enter the 2019 campaign with excellent numbers and a chance at both a district title and deep playoff run. 

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FEATURE: Eastland’s got a secret — quality receiving and rushing

                Alex Gonzales

EASTLAND — Behind every great quarterback is a quality group of skill personnel that enables him to achieve his full potential. 

In Eastland, where much of the preseason writing is focused on standout quarterback Behren Morton, a secret has been inadvertently created by the media. 

The Mavericks are loaded at the skill spots.

“Actually, we need to back up a year,” Eastland coach James Morton said. “The reason Behren has gotten the attention he has gotten is because of those skill guys and they’re all back for another year. 

“A quarterback is only as good as his skill guys. … I think Behren would be the first guy to tell you that.” 

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EASTLAND TEAM PREVIEW: Mavericks counting on both lines to develop

EASTLAND — Most preseason conversations regarding the 2019 Eastland Mavericks will center around highly touted quarterback Behren Morton. 

That’s understandable, given that the 6-2 junior is already receiving more Division I collegiate interest than most players could ever dream of. 

The son of Eastland coach James Morton earned that attention with 2,664 yards passing last year as a sophomore, hitting 203 of 315 passes with 18 TDs to only two picks.

The quarterback spot, however, won’t be what determines how far the Mavericks get in 2019. That, in the view of its coach, will be the performance of guys in the trenches. 

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FEATURE: Smallish McKay has learned to channel his aggression

BRECKENRIDGE — At 5-9 and 195 pounds, Breckenridge senior offensive lineman Zane McKay is easy to underestimate.

And that’s just the way he likes it. 

McKay, who may be among the smallest offensive tackles in the Big Country, has found compensation within the reaches of his own heart. In the process, he has come to exemplify the sort of grit the Breckenridge team has counted on under coach Casey Hubble in recent years. 

“It’s something that we’ve tried to hang our hat on since we’ve been here,” Hubble said of McKay’s tough style of play. “Breckenridge has tough kids. We always try to play the game extremely physical and Zane encompasses that.” 

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BRECKENRIDGE TEAM PREVIEW: Buckaroos ready to face the gauntlet

BRECKENRIDGE —If piling up impressive records is the lone criteria for success, then Casey Hubble’s Breckenridge Buckaroos aren’t a blip on the radar. 

If consistently peaking at the right time and qualifying for the playoffs is the top priority, then Hubble has yet to fail during his five seasons in Breck.   

Hubble has posted a modest 28-31 overall record at BHS, which is misleading if one takes into consideration the level of difficulty he chooses for his non-district schedule.  But the Bucks are 17-9 in district play during that time, with five straight postseason appearances, a district title and a regional semifinal appearance. 

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FEATURE: Tough, knowledgeable, versatile — that’s Comanche’s Conine

COMANCHE — At 5-foot-10 and 280 pounds, Comanche offensive lineman Jeron Conine isn’t someone you’d associate with the quarterback position. 

Yet for a time in the eighth grade and his freshman season in high school, that is the position Conine played before the natural progression of things steered him up front. For those who know him, it comes as no surprise that the senior spent time behind center, given his athleticism and knowledge of the Comanche’s wing-T offense.

He is now a key element in the Comanche attack as a senior lineman on a junior-dominated team. He will not only be leaned upon for leadership, but for expertise in the scheme itself. 

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COMANCHE TEAM PREVIEW: Rebuilding or reloading? Indians hope its the latter

COMANCHE — After six successful years at the helm at Comanche, coach Stephen Hermesmeyer may be facing the single biggest test his program has seen since his arrival there in 2013. 

With three straight district titles under his belt, Hermesmeyer returns only three starters on both sides of the ball this year among 11 lettermen, 

This is the second straight year the Indians have had absorb a large graduating class — virtually depleting them of varsity experience. It is at this point, however, where the foundation of the program can be tested. 

Are the Indians capable of enduring a difficult non-district schedule with a junior-heavy roster, then capturing a seventh-straight playoff berth?   

Put simply, rebuild or reload? 

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FEATURE: Dublin’s Huffman may keep things light, but he’s deadly serious on the field

DUBLIN — Start with serious production on the ground. Add some production as a receiver. Sprinkle in some speed and finish by throwing in a dash of humor, and you’ve got Dublin utility man Hagen Huffman. 

If, as a Big Country football fan, you haven’t heard of Huffman yet, a quick education may be in order. 

The 17-year old senior is one of the most versatile returning Class 3A players in the Big Country. And in all likelihood, he will be a key element if the Lions are to repeat the success they had in last year’s 8-3 season.

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ANSON TEAM PREVIEW: Rebuilt, veteran Tigers poised to make a 3A splash

ANSON — The Anson Tigers absorbed a double-whammy in 2018, being bumped up to Class 3A by realignment while at the same time, having its roster depleted of experience by graduation. 

Coach Chris Hagler’s junior-laden crew slugged its way through a 5-6 campaign at the higher level, gradually improving as the season progressed to post a 5-2 district mark and reach the playoffs. 

This year, however, the Anson camp is hoping that last season’s toil will finally pay dividends. There’s reason to believe that could be the case, with eight offensive and nine defensive returning starters among 18 lettermen.  

This includes senior quarterback Drew Hagler (2,021 yards passing, 1,153 rushing 29 total TDs), who is about to embark on his final season behind center for the Tigers. 

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FEATURE: C-City’s Thompson Twins hope to bring new wave of success

 COLORADO CITY — For those old enough to remember, hearing someone mention “The Thompson Twins” conjures up memories of a popular British new wave group from the 1980s. The stage name was a falsehood, with no actual twins in the band. 

Some 35 years later, the Colorado City Wolves have their own pair of Thompsons — Alex and Zach — but there’s nothing fictitious about them. 

The 17-year-old twins are so identical, that Colorado City coach Dan Gainey had to develop his own method for differentiating them.

“The only way I can tell them apart is by which girlfriend they’re with,” Gainey said. “And I’m not really sure if they haven’t tricked them from time to time.” 

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COLORADO CITY TEAM PREVIEW: Young Wolves hope to keep playoff streak alive

COLORADO CITY — If the Colorado City Wolves are to keep their recent run of success alive, they’re going to have to do it with a myriad of new faces in 2019.

Over the past two seasons, few Big Country teams at any level have outperformed Coach Dan Gainey’s Wolves, who have posted a 22-4 mark during that span.  But with just four offensive and three defensive starters returning among 13 lettermen, C-City must find a way to compensate for a sizable loss in graduated talent and experience. 

 Gone are All-Big Country Preps honorees Tracy Smith (receiver), quarterback Markis Monroe and running back Bubba Williams — the latter two of which doubled as All-BCP linebackers. 

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FEATURE: Marshall, offensive line completely change the Hawley dynamic

HAWLEY — From 2014-2017, the name most often associated with Hawley football was record-setting quarterback Quay Stokes. 

During his four-year stint as the varsity starter at HHS, the Bearcats posted a 33-15 overall record — the most successful four-season run in the history of the program. 

With the graduation of Stokes, however, the Bearcats were forced to adopt a new playing style last season in the hopes of retaining the momentum. 

Few imagined the level of success they would eventually find, or the method by which they would achieve it. But the Bearcats closed with a 10-2 mark in 2018 (matching its best season record ever), led by a huge offensive line and a bruising, relatively unknown junior running back named Colton Marshall. 

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HAWLEY TEAM PREVIEW: It’s no secret, Bearcats plan to get physical

HAWLEY — It doesn’t take Vince Lombardi to examine this year’s Hawley’s football roster and surmise what coach Mitch Ables’ modus operandi will be.

The Bearcats will be playing smash-mouth football — perhaps to an even greater extent than they did during last season’s 10-2 run that saw them suffer a heartbreaking loss to Sundown in the area round.

Put simply, the Bearcats have the equipment to line up, hit you in the face and dare you to stop them. And they can be expected to do precisely that in 2019.

To begin with, there’s All-Big Country Preps running back Colton Marshall to contend with. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder amassed 1,935 yards and 27 touchdowns a year ago, much of which came after breaking tackles or flat-out running over people.

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FEATURE: Stamford’s Ronnie Casey talks Bulldog football with Evan Ren

STAMFORD — Since taking over Wayne Hutchinson’s highly successful Stamford program in 2014, coach Ronnie Casey has seen his share of winning.

But in taking over at SHS, Casey not only had a tough act to follow, but was setting himself up for comparisons that could be considered  unfair.

Casey now visits with Big Country Preps sportswriter Evan Ren to discuss his tenure at Stamford, what it has been like, and what he anticipates in the future.  

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STAMFORD TEAM PREVIEW: Line play to dictate how far Bulldogs get

STAMFORD — While few are doubting that the Stamford Bulldogs will field another winner in 2019, the question of how good they will be is largely up in the air. 

Yes, Stamford was 10-2 a year ago, pushing two rounds deep into the playoffs and yes, they set a number of offensive records in doing so. 

But a large number of the players who helped the high-flying Bulldogs to an eye-popping campaign last season, have been handed their diplomas. It is now the task of coach Ronnie Casey to replace standouts such as quarterback Peyton Bevel and receiver Trace Edwards with just 10 lettermen to start with. 

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WINTERS TEAM PREVIEW: Blizzards believe they can retain momentum from 2018

WINTERS — A year ago, the Winters Blizzards surged from a 5-6 record in 2017 to a 8-4 mark, fueled largely by the expansion of capabilities in its flexbone offense. 

Where once there was strictly a straight-ahead power game, the Blizzards implemented and executed the very thing the flexbone was originally designed to deliver: the triple option. 

It proved crucial from the outset, with a 5-0 start and an eventual No. 3 seed in a brutal district behind powerhouses Hawley (10-2) and Stamford (9-3).  

The Blizzards’ offensive production jumped from 22.5 points per game in 2017 to 30.3 a year ago and their points allowed (helped by greater ball control) fell from 32.5 to 19.6. 

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FEATURE: Hamlin’s Austin “The Beast” Lozano a force to be reckoned with

HAMLIN — To some degree, dunking a basketball is a measure of athletic prowess.  But when you’re 6-foot-1 and weigh 299 pounds, having the ability to “jam” borders on unbelievable. 

Hamlin defensive lineman Austin “The Beast” Lozano realized this, so he had himself videotaped throwing it down. The display encapsulates the amount of explosive power the senior brings to the table — power that the Hamlin coaching staff plans to take full advantage of this season.    

Just where the 17-year-old will line up and how often, is still in the planning stages as the Hamlin staff tries to figure how to minimize the attention he’ll be getting from the opposition. 

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FEATURE: Haskell’s Wright consistently does what’s right

HASKELL — If one were to envision what a West Texas high school football player is all about, certain character traits may come to mind. 

Hard-working. Coachable. Respectful. Disciplined. And perhaps first and foremost, resistant to adversity — not unlike the traits exhibited by Haskell senior Caleb Wright, who was selected for this feature by the HHS coach staff for the very reasons just listed. 

Wright, who will contend for valedictorian honors, isn’t a large player. He stands in at 5-10 and weighs 180 pounds. He isn’t slow, but he won’t create a sonic boom either, checking in with a 40 time of 4.9. 

Put simply, he’s not going to be playing at USC after graduation. But pound-for-pound, one would be hard-pressed to find a player who gets more miles per genetic gallon. 

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HASKELL TEAM PREVIEW: Indians hoping to build on surprising 2018 season

HASKELL — More experience, more depth and a greater knowledge of coach Brian Hodnett’s system are all check marks in the plus column for Haskell in 2019. 

Whether or not this translates into a better product, however, may depend on the Indians’ ability to replace a few key faces that have been lost to graduation. 

Gone are Reed Roewe, Zander Garcia and Aaron Skiles — important contributors to last season’s late flurry that saw the Indians overcome a 1-5 start to finish 4-7 and reach area round of the playoffs.  On the plus side, Haskell has seven starters on both sides of the ball among 16 lettermen to act as compensation. 

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FEATURE: Martinez to bring slashback look to Roscoe

ROSCOE — In the mid 1990s, former Pittsburgh Steeler Kordell Stewart inspired the name of a new combo position in the NFL, known as the “slashback.” 

It was a simplified way of describing the QB/WR/RB role he played while helping the Steelers reach the Super Bowl in 1996. 

Some 23 years and equal number of tax brackets away from Stewart, the Roscoe Plowboys are about unleash their own scaled-down version of the slash in Junior Martinez. 

Only in the case of Martinez, there’s a few extra slashes to include QB/WR/RB/W/DB/P/PR/KR.

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