Tag: Evan Ren

Evan Ren’s Big Country playoff forecast

LAST WEEK: 3-2, .600
SEASON TOTAL: 432-93, .823

With two small-school area teams — Jim Ned and May — now joined in the postseason party by locals Abilene High, Cooper and Wylie (in the 6A-5A bi-district rounds), the Big Country still has five football teams still afloat heading into this week.

It should be noted that May, having already qualified for the 1A DI (six-man) state title game, won’t play again until next week’s championship matchup with Sterling City.
The rest will see action Friday and Saturday in venues scattered all over Texas, from the Metroplex to Fort Stockton.

Let’s dive in and have a look at all the matchups.

I’ll see you on the road. 

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Evan Ren’s area-round playoff forecast

LAST WEEK: 32-5, .864
SEASON TOTAL: 399-86, .823

We’ve reached that point in the season when there is no such thing as a pushover.  Wins are tough to come by and so are accurate picks.

It’s also that time of year when you almost hope you’re wrong. Because if I’m correct in this week’s picks, our field of 15 remaining 11-man area football teams will be chopped to six by week’s end and only four of our eight remaining six-man teams will see the field again.

This column hit at 86 percent accuracy a week ago … so here’s to a late-season slump and plenty of Thanksgiving football.

Let’s dive in. Here are this week’s area picks.

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Evan Ren’s regional football projections and bi-district picks

LAST WEEK: 26-4, .866
SEASON TOTAL: 377-81, .823

Week 12 of the football season is here. And you know what that means.

The horses are at the starting gate with a finish line set up in Arlington for the state championship games.

More than 97 percent of the teams won’t make it. And by the time Thanksgiving arrives, 75 percent of them will already be finished. Such is the magnitude of our postseason.

In the meantime, hundreds of teams from Class 1A through 4A have their dreams of reaching Jerry World still intact. Classes 5A and 6A will start their postseason journeys in mid December, after having their seasons delayed by COVID-19.

That said, it’s time to choose which of our Big Country entries have the best shot of conquering their regions. Who are the favorites? Who are the dark horses? An perhaps most importantly, where are the elephants in the room — the teams from outside of our area with the most potential to spoil the Big Country’s chances?

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Evan Ren’s top area games to travel to in 2020

Every year, for the past several years, I have looked ahead at the season schedule to create a menu of sorts — a menu for Big Country football connoisseurs to choose some Friday night pigskin in the area. 

History has proven that this isn’t an exact science, and the further out we go from Week 1, the more difficult this endeavor becomes. Nonetheless, I cannot resist a peek at my crystal ball — smudged as it may be.  

I must emphasize, that the entire list you’re about to read is subject to change. This is not a concrete list of Big Country Preps Games of the Week. It’s closer to an educated guess, contingent upon about 10,000 different variables. 

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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: 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: 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 PLAYOFF FORECAST: Hawley faces New Deal with history on the line (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country picks)

LAST WEEK: 32-4, .889

OVERALL: 463-87, .842 

Heading into the second round of postseason play, we’re down to a dozen Big Country 11-man and nine six-man football teams still showing a pulse. The good news is, at least 12-14 clubs between both categories should advance to play over the Thanksgiving weekend. 

At least, that’s what my projections say. We shall see. 

Here’s a quick look at this week’s playoff games involving Big Country teams. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Coahoma to receive huge test from Idalou (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 34-9, .790

OVERALL: 251-51, .831

There comes a point when every emerging football program has to show its hand. And it’s usually around the midpoint of the season when we can differentiate between who has a full house and who’s holding a pair of deuces. 

The Coahoma Bulldogs (4-1) will reach that point this Friday when they host perennial toughie Idalou (3-2) in our Big Country Preps Game of the Week. 

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EVAN REN: High school athletics has forgotten itself

What is the purpose of interscholastic athletics? It seems silly to even pose the question.

I bring it up because within the word purpose lies the problem — a poisonous problem, brought on by our own lack of vision.

Must I say it?

The original purpose behind high school sports was the teaching of teamwork, work ethic, sacrifice, respecting authority, overcoming adversity and accepting discipline.

Sports taught our kids that the world wasn’t perfect. It taught our kids that there would be disappointments to endure. It taught them the benefits of hard work and we hired our coaches accordingly. 

Somewhere along the line we injected winning into the mix and it has resulted in something truly ugly.

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Loboes, Bearcats clash in our spotlight game (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 43-7, .860

OVERALL: 173-34, .835

While the Cisco Loboes have been in countless big games over the last two decades, the last few years have been a bit lean for Ballinger. 

In fact, the general consensus is, when the Bearcats (3-0) play host to the Loboes (2-1) on Friday, this will be the biggest regular season game played in Ballinger in several years. 

At the very least, it’s our Big Country Preps Game of the Week, and deservedly so. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Explosive Brady visits Dublin (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

LAST WEEK: 41-8, .837

OVERALL: 130-27, .828

On a Friday where any one of four or five games is arguably a candidate for our Big Country Preps Game of the Week, our final decision — Brady at Dublin — was based on sharing the love. 

Jim Ned and Mason is on the board, as is Wichita Falls Rider at Brownwood, Hawley at Albany, Christoval at Cross Plains and, of course, the annual war between Brock and Breckenridge. 

But with Jim Ned a likely candidate for Game of the Week when it faces Wall and Eastland later this year, and Brownwood receiving live coverage for Snyder two weeks ago and Wylie next week, the field narrowed a bit. 

Hawley got our Game of the Week last Friday, and Albany will likely see the GOW when it faces Hamlin, so we’re heading to Dublin where Brady will be a part of its first-ever BCP spotlight game.

It shouldn’t disappoint. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Hawley tops Hamlin 46-44 in Big Country thriller

HAWLEY — It took nearly three hours and close to 900 yards of combined total offense to settle the issue. 

But once the dust cleared at Hawley High School on Friday, the 10th-ranked 2A DI Bearcats had earned a 46-44 win over top-ranked 2A DII Hamlin in a classic Big Country Preps Game of the Week.

Colton Marshall rushed for 230 yards, three touchdowns and four two-point conversions  to lead Hawley (3-0), which forced four Hamlin turnovers to key the win. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Hawley, Hamlin collide in matchup of 2A powerhouses (w/ Evan Ren’s Big Country Picks)

 

LAST WEEK: 46-6, .884

SEASON TOTAL: 89-19, .824

I don’t know what has me more jazzed — the interesting slate of Big Country games we’ve got on tap this week, or the fact that I hit 88 percent of my picks in Week 2 and am at 82 percent for the season. 

I don’t mind saying, it’s way too early in to be picking at a rate that high. Normally the 80-percent plateau is crossed in the second half of the season, after you get dialed in on who’s who. But why should I complain? It will give me a leg up on Youngblood. 

Our Big Country Preps Game of the Week — Hamlin (2-0) at Hawley (2-0) — was actually circled on the calendar well in advance of the season. 

Yes, last year’s matchup resulted in a 32-6 Hamlin win. 

But the venue switches to Hawley this time around and unless I’ve missed my guess, the Bearcats are more than motivated after being escorted to the woodshed by the Pipers a year ago. 

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