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BIG SPRING — A few early bursts of speed and a few late mistakes made all the difference in a 34-20 win for Hawley over Sundown in Friday’s Region I-2A Division I area round game at Memorial Stadium.
Rodey Hooper threw for 174 yards and a score and added three rushing touchdowns to lead Hawley (10-2), which advances to face Cisco (9-3) in the regional semifinals.
“We told our kids that we felt like we’d be the fastest team on the field tonight,” Hawley coach Mitch Ables said. “We’re young, but we’re fast and we were able to take advantage of our speed tonight.”
BANGS — Facing one of the biggest, strongest small-school teams in the area on Friday, there was some question if the Bangs Dragons could remain undefeated after squaring off with Hawley on Friday.
The Dragons (4-0) delivered the answer fairly quickly, dominating the Bearcats 39-15 in the Big Country Preps Game of the Week.
Ethan Cortez threw for 238 yards and rushed for 158 and two scores to lead Bangs, which took a 26-7 lead into locker room at the break. Ethan Sanchez led the Dragons in scoring, rushing for 95 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries.
HAWLEY — Perhaps no team in the recent history of the Big Country has been more characterized by its offensive line than the 2019 Hawley Bearcats.
While posting a 13-1 record that ended with a trip to the Region I-2A DI title game, the Bearcats pounded out 4,898 combined yards on the ground and 47 points per game.
All-state running back Colton Marshall rushed for more than 3,000 of those yards while earning AP Offensive Player of the Year for Class 2A. But it was a sizeable offensive line creating a consistent push that made Marshall’s season possible, and the Bearcats’ offensive front didn’t operate in obscurity.
Coach Mitch Ables and his Hawley Bearcats made a living on power football throughout the 2019 season, pushing all the way to the Region I-2A Division I title game and finishing with a program-best 13-1 record.
The Bearcats, of course, had the tools to do it — an offensive line that averaged 244 pounds across the board, with bruising 210-pound running back Colton Marshall (3,501 yards rushing, 46 TDs) running behind it.
In 2020, however, Hawley may sport a slightly different look with three of its five starting offensive linemen having graduated, along with Marshall.
Day 6 of Big Country Preps’ 2020 Photo Tour is in the books, and two more days of shooting remain from practice fields across the area.
Here are a few of the images and videos collected Friday from Stamford, Hawley, Brady and Brownwood.
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 Haskell on Saturday, we stay in District 3-2A Division I with the Hawley Bearcats. On Monday, we will take a look at the Stamford Bulldogs, followed by the Cisco Loboes on Tuesday.
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.
Hawley’s powerlifting program produces state champions seemingly every year.
While nothing is ever guaranteed in the sport, juniors Kolter Willeford and Bo Thompson were ready for their chance to continue the Bearcats’ winning tradition.
Thompson had won the 275-pound weight class at regionals by 125 pounds after totaling 1,675 pounds in his three lifts. Willeford’s super heavyweight total of 1,775 pounds included an 800-pound squat and was 150 clear of second place.
But their dreams of gold will have to wait another year after the Texas High School Powerlifting Association’s state meet was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
HAWLEY — It could be argued that the Hawley basketball team is more a collection of highly athletic football players than a refined group of hoopsters.
That point has been made, and in some circles, it’s even agreed upon.
But there are two undeniable facts about this Hawley club that may push it deep into postseason play. Firstly, the Bearcats, regardless of style, are good — entering Friday’s game at Haskell with a 12-7 overall record and a 6-2 mark in District 8-2A.
Secondly, the backcourt tandem of Jaron Reynolds and Kason O’Shields has enough basketball polish to compensate for any lack of finesse Hawley’s bruising frontcourt may have. But they are not carrying as much of the load as one may think.
LAST WEEK: 8-2, .800
SEASON TOTAL: 483-92, .840
With the overall size of the Big Country encompassing more than 75 communities, one thing is nearly always certain: Somebody in a group that big is going to be good enough to make a run a state championship.
And sure enough, heading into December, no fewer than six teams in the Big Country Preps coverage area are still alive on the road to Arlington.
Brock, Hawley, San Saba and Hamlin have all pushed to the regional championship round in their respective classifications in 11-man, while Strawn and Blackwell have reached the state semifinals in six-man.
The task of forecasting it all falls on me, and we’re at the stage where getting it right is a real challenge.
This column is having one of its best seasons ever on pick accuracy, consistently hitting at more than 80 percent on a weekly basis and currently holding at 84 percent on the year. So we shall see.
Here’s a look at this week’s games:
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.
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.
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.
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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Sitting at 0 for 2 with a sacrifice bunt through his first three plate appearances, Hawley’s Jaron Reynolds was having a forgettable day at the plate when he stepped into the batter’s box for his final at-bat.
But with his team down to its final out and the winning run standing at second, the junior second baseman needed all of one swing to change that.
After watching from the on-deck circle as Tate Thompson struck out for the second out of the seventh inning, Reynolds picked up his teammate with a bases-loaded double over the New Deal right fielder to score Caleb Comer and Robert Ybarra for the tying and winning runs in a 4-3 walk-off win over the Lions.
The come-from-behind victory gave the Bearcats a one game to none lead in their Region I-2A semifinal series, putting them one win away from a spot in the region championship.
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.
Big Country Preps Player of the Week isn’t strictly about numbers.
Sometimes, drama can be the deciding factor. And in that regard, Hamlin’s Jackson Sepeda takes home this week’s Oscar after helping Hamlin to an incredible 21-18 win over heavily favored Wellington — one of the biggest upsets the Big Country has seen in the last decade.
Following a four-year starter at quarterback is never easy. Following one responsible for 80 percent his program’s playoff victories is all the more difficult.
Yet that’s the situation Hawley’s Dylan Frazier finds himself in this season.
After waiting his turn behind standout Quay Stokes the past three years, Frazier is poised to take the reins of the Bearcat offense as a senior in 2018. And while he’s aware of the challenge ahead of him, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Frazier has every intention of leaving his mark.
Quay Stokes’ graduation will no doubt be felt around Hawley this fall, both on the field and in the locker room. But those expecting the Bearcats to take a significant step backward may be setting themselves up for disappointment.
In fact, with six starters back on both sides of the football and a strong set of prospects up front and at the skill positions, Hawley coach Mitch Ables said expectations are as high as they’ve ever been in Bearcat country.