Monthly archive

September 2021

GRIDIRON GURUS: WEEK 6

in Predictions

PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: Picking Heart of Texas high school football games, NCAA college football games in Texas, as well as the Cowboys & the Texans

With a full slate of games scheduled at all levels of high school college and professional football, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel will begin sizing up the high school district races across the Heart of Texas.

Throughout the rest of the 2021 football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel will test their luck picking a slate of high school football games across the Heart of Texas, a selection of Texas college football games, as well as matchups involving the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Joining THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel this season will be Toney Rogers, a local business owner in the Heart of Texas, while Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.

Congrats go to Don (30-9) for winning the week for the first since joining the pick’ems panel in 2020. He pulled it off with a couple of exclusive picks in the college ranks, including the Colorado School of Mines over West Texas A&M, Sul Ross State over Texas Lutheran, and being on the right end of several split decisions. Those two exclusive picks enabled him to best Brett (29-10) by a single game, while both Toney (24-15) and Wade (24-15) struggled through rough weeks.

Rogers, owner of Armadillo Prints, NeTex Entertainment Agency as well as T-3 Business Consulting & Marketing, has served as an announcer for various high school to professional sporting events for several years, such as being the Voice of Crawford Lady Pirate Softball and announcing for UBU Bodybuilding Expos, while serving as Marketing Director for the Waco Tornado indoor football team and Marketing Director for North Texas Falcons Pro Football Team.

In addition to being involved in the entertainment industry for more than 40 years as a professional musician and a booking agent, Rogers has also been involved in several community organizations such as Clifton Park Board President, Legacy Park Board, Entertainment Director for Clifton’s Fallfest, CISD Advisory Board and a member of Lions Club of Bosque County.

Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for a select group of the week’s high school games, your favorite college teams from the NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III, as well as the state’s two NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Be sure to make your picks as well!

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON MATCHUPS: WEEK 6

in Schedule/Scores/Stats

Most Heart of Texas teams playing district games under the Friday night lights in Class 3A, 2A & 1A action, The Sports Buzz Game of the Week features Meridian seeking first win on homecoming night

As we head into Week 6 of the 2021 Texas high school football season, most of the Heart of Texas’ teams will be involved in district competition or taking the week off before opening district under the Friday night lights, while some will be playing their final non-district games.

Under the Friday night lights, THE SPORTS BUZZ Game of the Week will turn its focus on the Class 2A, Division II’s Meridian Yellowjackets (0-5) hosts the Waco Texas Wind (1-3) in their final non-district matchup seeking their first win of the season on homecoming night in Meridian at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Sports Buzz On The Air will be on location in Meridian shooting video highlights to be posted Saturday.

But while all six-man teams continue to play non-district games across the region this week, the marquee matchup features Class 1A, DII’s undefeated Oglesby Tigers (5-0) hosting the TAPPS, DII’s top-ranked Waco Live Oak Classical Falcons (6-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.

In Class 2A action, DI’s  fourth-ranked Crawford Pirates (4-0) open their quest to capture the District 7-2A, DI title by visiting the Tolar Rattlers (1-0 in district, 4-1 overall) at 7 p.m. Friday. Class 1A, DII’s top-ranked Mart Panthers (5-0) will have an open date before opening District 10-2A, DII competition Oct. 8, while the Hico Tigers (2-3) will be looking to even their record before district when they host the Frost Polar Bears at 7 p.m. Friday.

But when it comes to Class 3A action, three of the four Heart of Texas districts will be duking it out among themselves.

In District 7-3A, DI matchups, the seventh-ranked West Trojans (1-0, 5-0) will host challenger Dallas Madison (0-1, 2-3), while the eighth-ranked Grandview Zebras (1-0, 4-1) will entertain Dallas Life Oak Cliff (0-1, 3-2). In District 11-3A, DI action, the10th-ranked Lorena Leopards (1-0, 3-2) will host the Troy Trojans (0-0, 0-4), while the Clifton Cubs (0-1, 0-5) will try to get into the District 13-3A, DII race when they host the Rogers Eagles (1-0, 3-2).

Once again this season, THE SPORTS BUZZ will provide award-winning coverage of the 2021 Texas high school football season, focusing on Class 3A, 2A and 1A schools in the 10-county Heart of Texas region — which includes Bosque, Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan and Somervell counties.

Be sure to check in with THE SPORTS BUZZ every Thursday to find the complete schedule for teams from the Heart of Texas region. Then follow THE SPORTS BUZZ for up-to-the-minute final scores as they become available throughout the weekend.

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CLEAN SWEEP

in Football

Taking their lumps in Class 1A non-district matchups, Bosque County six-man teams suffer sweep of defeats in district dress rehearsals; Jonesboro, Abbott climb state poll

While several Heart of Texas six-man football squads strengthened their positions in the state rankings, others continued to search for answers as they prepared to open district competition.

At the top of the Class 1A, Division I state rankings, the third-ranked and undefeated Jonesboro Eagles help off Saint Jo, 64-50, while the fifth-ranked Abbott Panthers remained undefeated with an overwhelming 59-8 home victory over Keene.

But after experiencing the agony of defeat in an unprecedented week of disappointment, the all-Bosque County District 12-1A, Division II goes into one more round of non-district games without a single squad owning a winning record.

With the Kopperl Eagles taking the week off with an open date, the other four Bosque County six-man squads suffered defeats during Week 5. Heading into their final non-district tune-up this week, all five teams will be looking to turn things around before opening district play.

BLUFF DALE 50, IREDELL 0

Coming into the game riding a high, the Class 1A, Division II Iredell Dragons proved to be no match for Bluff Dale as the Bobcats clawed their way to an overwhelming 50-0 victory by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule just after halftime to spoil homecoming night in Iredell last Friday.

“Definitely not the way we planned,” Iredell head coach Luis Guereca said. “Our defense played well early. But poor execution on offense put us in a bind, and we could not recover. This is a game that we have to learn from, and we just need to work on getting better each week.”

Using a 36-point second quarter to build an insurmountable lead, Bluff Dale (3-1) limited the Dragons to 39 yards of total offense. Defensively, sophomore Jaime Najera led Iredell (2-2) with nine tackles, followed by freshman Walker Johnson with five and freshman Deuce Paul with three.

CHEROKEE 60, CRANFILLS GAP 35

Despite a four-touchdown performance by senior running back Cruz Flores, the Cranfills Gap Lions suffered their second straight loss as the Cherokee Indians pulled away late for a convincing 60-35 victory last Friday night in Cranfills Gap.

The Lions (2-3) opened up the scoring with junior quarterback Aiden Doty connecting with senior running back Cruz Flores with a 52-yard scoring strike. But Cherokee (2-2) responded by scoring 22 unanswered points to build a 22-7 advantage before halftime.

But Cranfills Gap rallied in the third quarter as Flores caught two more touchdown passes from Aiden Doty and ran for another, while sophomore Blake Allen powered into the end zone for a score. Although the Lions trailed by only three going into fourth quarter, Cherokee scored 22 unanswered points to put the game away.

“Too many self-made mistakes cost us opportunities in the first half of getting into the end zone,” Cranfills Gap head coach Adam Carroll said. “We did a good job of coming back in the third quarter. However, poor tackling and cramps would set in during the fourth quarter. We have to work on tackling and getting in better shape before district.”

Leading the Lions offensive attack, Flores caught eight passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns while finishing with 118 yards rushing and another score. Aiden Doty completed 11 of 19 passes for 202 yards and three scoring strikes.

Defensely, Flores led Cranfills Gap with 10 tackles, followed by Allen with eight takedowns and an interceptions, freshman Eli Whitmer with six tackles, freshman Juan Berumen with three and junior Haydyn Kirby with two and an interception.

COVINGTON 41, WALNUT SPRINGS 26

Playing before a overflowing homecoming crowd, the Class 1A, DII Walnut Springs Hornets were unable to give their fans something to celebrate as the Class 1A, DI Covington Owls pulled away in the second half for a 41-26 non-district win last Saturday night.

“The Hornets were unable to pull out a win in front of a large homecoming crowd,” Walnut Springs head coach Lonnie Flippen said. “I have never liked homecoming games due to all of the distractions. It’s difficult to convince the boys that it’s just a ball game for them and a coming home for everyone else.”

After the Hornets (2-3) built an early lead, Covington scored to jump out in front with eight seconds left before halftime, then opened the third quarter with back-to-back unanswered touchdowns to take control of the game.

Anthony Muniz scored twice for the Hornets on a 27-yard run and a 20 yard pass from Diego Muniz, and Jordan Ontiveros cashed in on a 12-yard run in the second quarter before Bryan Chavez came off the bench and led the Hornets in their last scoring drive, tossing an 18-yard scoring strike to Pablo Gonzales.

“Chavez was injured last year and is trying to come back, but his playing opportunities are very limited at this time,” Flippen said. “I was very proud of his leadership and his ability to lead the team to the end zone, even though it was too late to mount a comeback.”

Diego Muniz led the Hornets with 80 yards rushing and 65 yards passing, while Anthony Muniz added 72 yards on the ground.

“Just like last week, we now have to refocus before traveling to Lingleville to play a very talented Cardinal team,” Flippen said. “I did remind the team that we played these first six games to prepare for the real season. That’s when we will be competing for a playoff spot and the opportunity to put a gold football in the trophy case.”

EDEN 76, MORGAN 28

Still looking for their first win of the season, the Class 1A, DII Morgan Eagles could not keep up with Class 1A, DI Eden as the Bulldogs pulled away for a resounding 76-28 homecoming victory last Friday night.

Despite owning a 16-14 first quarter lead, Morgan (0-4) could not keep the Bulldogs (3-1) out of the end zone. After taking a 34-28 advantage into intermission, Eden piled up 42 unanswered points in the third quarter to wrap up the win by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule.

“The Eagle’s efforts were great in the first half,” Morgan head coach Edward Aviles said. “But a lot of costly mistakes allowed the Bulldogs to take over the game and get a homecoming win. The Morgan Eagles’ efforts were progress in getting better as a team.”

Sophomore Mark Anthony Garcia threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior Kason Sims and scored on a 47-yard fumble recovery, while junior Dathen Davenport and junior Adrian Vera-Rico contributed rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, Vera-Rico led the Eagles with 13 tackles, followed by freshman EJ Aviles with six takedowns.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

DOMINATING DEFEAT

in Football

Early turnovers prove costly as Class 2A, DI Axtell Longhorns trample Class 2A, DII Meridian Yellowjacket, 70-7

MERIDIAN – For the Class 2A, Division II Meridian Yellowjackets, it proved to be a case of everything that could go wrong did. And in a non-district game against the Class 2A, DI Axtell Longhorns, it began going wrong shortly after the opening kickoff last Friday night at Jacket Stadium.

Capitalizing on four Meridian turnovers, Axtell built a 28-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back as the Longhorns stampeded to a dominating 70-7 victory over the Jackets.

“Axtell did a great job,” Meridian head coach Wade Morton said. “All the credit goes to them. They did what was needed and dominated us all night.”

As the Longhorns took advantage of two quick turnovers to open the game, the Jackets almost immediately found themselves in a hole. Despite the Jackets using an 11-play drive to the Axtell 38-yard line, Longhorn senior cornerback Garrett Kwast pulled down an interception and returned it to the Meridian 33-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Jayme Wooley raced 24 yards for the game’s initial score.

On Meridian’s first play of its next possession, sophomore free safety Cohen Hackman forced a fumble, and sophomore Jacob Kroll recovered at the Jacket 33-yard line. Two plays later, junior running back Jordan Davis converts a counter into a 32-yard touchdown run. Junior running back Sam Michel ran in the two-point conversion to give Axtell an early 14-0 lead.

But the Meridian offense quickly responded as running back John Bernal turned the corner and tight-roped down the sideline for 47-yard scoring scamper to make it 14-7 with 5:05 left in the first quarter. Bernal finished with a team-high 110 yards rushing on only 12 carries.

“Offensively, we had some life after going down 14-0 early,” Morton said. “But we need to be consistent. Our players need to step up and make plays. We need to take more pride in what we do, and we will.”

After that, though, it was all Axtell as a couple more turnovers proved costly with the Longhorns quickly capitalizing, both on the ground and through the air, building an insurmountable 35-7 advantage before the end of the first quarter. Defensively, Jose Martinez led the Jackets with eight tackles, followed by Jordan Sheffer with four and JR Rodriguez with three.

This Friday, the Jackets play their final non-district game, hosting Waco Texas Wind on homecoming night in Meridian. Last week, Texas Wind lost to a common opponent, falling to Frost, 30-29, at home after knocking off Dallas HSAA Blue, 44-23, for their first win of the season.

“Texas Wind is going to be a challenge,” Morton said. “They have good size and speed, and that has been difficult for us to handle. The boys will be ready to go, and it should be an entertaining game.

“Bottom line is that we want to compete. And until you start hating to lose more than you like to win, things will continue to be difficult.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

FINDING A WAY TO FINISH

in Football

Class 3A, Division II Riesel Indians rally in the fourth quarter to sink Clifton Cubs, 25-21, in District 13-3A, DII opener

RIESEL – Just when it appeared the Clifton Cubs had the game exactly where they wanted it, their District 13-3A Division II opener began to slip away.

Scoring the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, Riesel senior quarterback Kyson Dieterich rushed for two scores and threw for another as the Indians rallied for a dramatic 25-21 victory over Clifton Friday night at Fair Park Field.

Cub senior running back Will Simmons rushed for a season-high 181 yards and a touchdown as Clifton grinded out 271 yards rushing and scored three times on the ground. And despite taking a 21-10 lead with 9:23 left in the third quarter, it wasn’t enough for the Cubs to secure their first win of the season.

“We did a lot of good things on Friday night, but we didn’t do them when the game was on the line,” Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford said. “We had opportunities to put the game away in the fourth quarter and couldn’t do it.”

After Riesel (1-0 in district, 3-1 overall) took the lead on Dieterich’s 41-yard keeper up the middle with 10:43 left, the Cubs had two opportunities to recapture the lead. Clifton immediately responded as Simmons broke off a huge run to the Riesel 34-yard line. But after moving inside the Riesel 10, the drive stalled as Cub senior quarterback Robert Goodman was sacked and stripped of the ball on fourth down with 6:09 left in the game.

But Clifton (0-1, 0-5) wasn’t done yet as the Cub defense held the Indians for a three downs-and-out. Beginning their final possession with 4: 19 left on the clock, the Cubs moved the ball but stalled at midfield.

“We had a drive end on a fumble in positive territory and one end on a turnover on downs inside the 10 yard line,” Caniford said. “We have to be able to finish. I hate it for our kids, because they are really getting better every week. But we have to find a way to finish games.”

Clifton appeared to take control of the game by taking the second half kickoff and driving down the field to take a 21-10 lead. Simmons turned the corner for a 49-yard romp before cashing in on a 10-yard scoring run, then Goodman ran for the two-point conversion.

Despite holding an 11-point lead with 9:23 left in the third quarter, the Cub defense gave up a couple of big plays to allow the Indians to rally for the win. Leading Riesel on both sides of the ball, Dieterich rushed for 170 yard and passed for 89 more, while posting 14 tackles defensively while causing and recovering a fumble.

Then when they needed it most, the Cub offense was unable to put more points on the board despite moving the ball and breaking off a couple of big plays. The pivotal point in the game came on their next to last possession as the Cubs moved inside the Riesel 10-yard line with 6:09 left in the game. But on fourth-and-goal from the Riesel eight-yard line, the Indians sacked Goodman and stripped him of the ball.

“Fortunately for us, this is just one game in a six-game district schedule, and our destiny is still in our hands and will be for a while,” Caniford said. “We just have to find a way to put it all together and string a couple of wins together.”

The District 13-3A, DII opener began with a flurry of scoring as Riesel took the opening kickoff and march down for a score. Clifton responded on its ensuing possession when Goodman hooked up with senior JP Gardner for a 28-yard gain before Finney darted for a 26-yard run. Two plays later, Finney sliced into the endzone for the game-tying score.

After the Indians nailed a 33-yard field goal, the Cubs grabbed their first lead of the game in the second quarter, keyed by Goodman connecting with sophomore Andres Devora for a 35-yard gain. Sophomore running back Riley Finney followed by ripping off a 26-yard run, before capping the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.

“Football is a game of momentum and seasons are no different,” Caniford said. “We have to find a way to generate some momentum in the next couple of weeks to put ourselves back into the playoff race.”

This Friday, the Cubs will play host to the Rogers Eagles (1-0 in district, 3-2 overall) coming off a dominating 62-6 district opening victory over the Buffalo Bison.

“Rogers has a very good football team,” Caniford said. “Much like us, they challenge themselves in their non-district schedule and have played some really quality opponents. There won’t be a lot of secrets on either side of this game as we’ve played each other for years and have a pretty good understanding of philosophies and personnel.”

Looking at common opponents, Rogers lost its season opener to Little-River Academy, 38-28, while the Bumblebees knocked off Clifton, 35-7, in Week 2.

“The most important thing for us to focus on getting better every day,” Caniford said. “If you focus too much on the result, then you aren’t giving attention to the things that you need to do to get the result you want.

“This is an important game because it’s the next one, but it’s no more important than any other game remaining on our schedule. We just have to continue to build on the things that we are doing well and get better in the areas where we need to improve.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON SCOREBOARD: WEEK 5

in Schedule/Scores/Stats

Class 3A, 2A & 1A high school football scores from the Heart of Texas region

FINAL UPDATED: 10:45 p.m., Saturday, September 25, 2021

Here are ALL of Thursday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s final scores for the Class 3A, 2A and 1A Texas high school football games from around the Heart of Texas region.

Be sure to check back with THE SPORTS BUZZ for up-to-the-minute updates throughout the weekend for scores from the 2021 Texas high school football postseason.

On location for the Game of the Week in Iredell this week, THE SPORTS BUZZ provides award-winning coverage of the 2021 Texas high school football season every week, focusing on Class 3A, 2A and 1A schools in the 10-county Heart of Texas region — which includes Bosque, Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan and Somervell counties.

Don’t forget to check in with THE SPORTS BUZZ every Friday night for the complete scoreboard from games across the Heart of Texas region.

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON MATCHUPS: WEEK 5

in Schedule/Scores/Stats

The Sports Buzz Game of the Week features Iredell hosting Bluff Dale for homecoming in six-man action, check out Class 3A, 2A & 1A schedule for Heart of Texas teams under the Friday night lights

As we head into Week 5 of the 2021 Texas high school football season, some of the Heart of Texas’ teams will be opening district competition under the Friday night lights, while others aim to fine tune with another round on non-district games.

Under the Friday night lights, THE SPORTS BUZZ Game of the Week will turn its focus on six-man football as the Class 1A, Division II’s Iredell Dragons (2-1) hosts the Bluff Dale Bobcats (2-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday on homecoming night in Iredell. The Sports Buzz On The Air will be on location in Iredell shooting video highlights to be posted Saturday.

But while all six-man teams continue to play non-district games across the region this week, the marquee matchup features a rematch of the 2020 Class 1A, DI state championship game as the defending champion May Tigers (4-0) host the state runner-up and 2019 state champion Blum Bobcats (1-3).

In Class 2A action, DI’s  fourth-ranked Crawford Pirates (4-0) will have an open week as District 7-2A, Division I action begins. But several key matchups will determine what district teams will line up as challengers for Crawford as the Bosqueville Bulldogs (2-2) host the Rio Vista Eagles (2-1), the Tolar Rattlers (3-1) visit the Valley Mills Eagles (2-2), and the Hamilton Bulldogs (3-1) hit the road to face the Itasca Wompus Cats (1-3), while DII’s top-ranked Mart Panthers (4-0) take on DI’s Italy Gladiators (3-1) in a non-district clash.

But when it comes to Class 3A action, three of the four Heart of Texas district will begin. In District 7-3A, DI matchups, the eighth-ranked West Trojans (4-0) will host challenger Dallas Life Oak Cliff (3-1), while the 10th-ranked Grandview Zebras (3-1) will travel to take on the Maypearl Panthers (2-1). In District 11-3A, DI action, the Lorena Leopards (2-2) will try to knock Little River-Academy (4-0) from the undefeated ranks, while the Clifton Cubs (0-4) will attempt to turn its season around with a District 13-3A, DII opening victory over the Riesel Indians (3-1)

Once again this season, THE SPORTS BUZZ will provide award-winning coverage of the 2021 Texas high school football season, focusing on Class 3A, 2A and 1A schools in the 10-county Heart of Texas region — which includes Bosque, Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan and Somervell counties.

Be sure to check in with THE SPORTS BUZZ every Thursday to find the complete schedule for teams from the Heart of Texas region. Then follow THE SPORTS BUZZ for up-to-the-minute final scores as they become available throughout the weekend.

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON GURUS: WEEK 5

in Predictions

PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: Picking Heart of Texas high school football games, NCAA college football games in Texas, as well as the Cowboys & the Texans

With a full slate of games scheduled at all levels of high school college and professional football, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel will begin sizing up the high school district races across the Heart of Texas.

Throughout the rest of the 2021 football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel will test their luck picking a slate of high school football games across the Heart of Texas, a selection of Texas college football games, as well as matchups involving the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Joining THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel this season will be Toney Rogers, a local business owner in the Heart of Texas, while Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.

Last week, Brett (29-9) finally had a good week, but the high school schedule was not kind to any one on the panel. In fact, Don (23-15) went 17-4 in college games, but took a beating in the high school games with a 5-10 record. With that said, Wade (25-13) and Toney (23-15) kept the entire panel respectable once again.

Rogers, owner of Armadillo Prints, NeTex Entertainment Agency as well as T-3 Business Consulting & Marketing, has served as an announcer for various high school to professional sporting events for several years, such as being the Voice of Crawford Lady Pirate Softball and announcing for UBU Bodybuilding Expos, while serving as Marketing Director for the Waco Tornado indoor football team and Marketing Director for North Texas Falcons Pro Football Team.

In addition to being involved in the entertainment industry for more than 40 years as a professional musician and a booking agent, Rogers has also been involved in several community organizations such as Clifton Park Board President, Legacy Park Board, Entertainment Director for Clifton’s Fallfest, CISD Advisory Board and a member of Lions Club of Bosque County.

Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for a select group of the week’s high school games, your favorite college teams from the NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III, as well as the state’s two NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Be sure to make your picks as well!

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AIMING FOR MORE

in Volleyball

Already surpassing last season, the Class 2A Meridian Lady Jackets notch District 11-2A volleyball win over Three Way in five-set thriller

After opening District 11-2A competition with back-to-back lopsided losses, the young and inexperienced Meridian Lady Jacket volleyball program showed some grit in posting only its second district win in more than 40 years.

Despite losing the opening set convincingly, the Lady Jackets battled back to prevail in a hard-fought and dramatic five-set victory over the Three Way Lady Indians, 13-25, 25-22, 18-25, 25-20, 15-7, last Saturday in Yellowjacket Gymnasium.

“The girls showed a tremendous amount of determination and mental endurance on Saturday,” Meridian volleyball’s first-year head coach Lauren Cartwright said. “After a five-set match, we were able to walk away with the win. Our team came together to make some smart plays and work around Three-Way’s defensive coverage.”

Last season, the Lady Jackets won their first district match in 41 years in a hard-fought and thrilling 25-23, 25-15, 20-25, 22-25, 15-13 victory over Three Way to advanced to the Class 2A postseason to take on top-ranked Crawford in a Bi-District playoff matchup.

Tuesday night, the Lady Jackets (1-3 in district, 4-12 overall) traveled to Hico and the Lady Tigers swept past Meridian, 25-17, 25-14. 25-8, as senior Mackenzie Lane led in kills, while senior America Ramirez set the pace in digs, blocks and serving.

“I was proud of the way we played in the first set,” Cartwright said. “The girls did a great job playing out every volley. We look forward to our match up with Tolar. They have an exemplary program and we are preparing accordingly.”

But just four games into the first round of district play in 2021, the Lady Jackets will be looking for more this season.

“We look forward to playing two powerhouse programs this week in Hico and Tolar,” Cartwright said.

After making their road trip to visit Hico Tuesday, the Lady Jackets return home to host Bluff Dale in a District 11-2A contest at 11 a.m. Saturday in Yellowjacket Gymnasium.

But for now, the Lady Jackets will still enjoy their first district win in 2021.

“The volleyball program motto this year is ‘We Before Me,’” Cartwright said. “Our student athletes did an exemplary job of living that out on Saturday.”

Although the Lady Jackets own a long history of playing volleyball, the program was initially dropped following the 1973-74 school year. Meridian reinstated volleyball for the 1978-79 school year, but promptly dropped it again the following season.

After a 41-year absence, MISD athletic director Wade Morton and MISD superintendent Kim Edwards locked in and decided to bring volleyball back in 2020. And certainly, Cartwright appears to have the Lady Jacket primed to take their game to the next level this season.

In the district opener, the perennial powerhouse Hamilton Lady Bulldogs swept past Meridian in straight sets, 25-8, 25-16, 25-8, before their home crowd. Then last Tuesday, the Evant Lady Elks knocked off the Lady Jackets in straight sets, 3-0.

“Our focus in district will be to play our very best, working on our goals and staying focused on the fundamentals,” Cartwright said. “The girls have already come a long way in preseason, and I look forward to seeing how we grow throughout our district schedule this season.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

TWO IN A ROW

in Volleyball

Building momentum from a hard-fought loss to state-ranked Lorena, the Class 3A Clifton Lady Cubs surge into District 17-3A race

McGREGOR — Just when they needed it most, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball program got the kind of victory it has been working hard to achieve. In fact, they got two in a row.

After sweeping past arch-rival Whitney at home last Friday for their first District 17-3A win, the Lady Cubs held off the resurgent McGregor Lady Bulldogs in four sets on the road Tuesday night to climb right back in the race for a postseason berth.

“The game was great, it was an awesome win,” Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth said. “It takes all of us to win. And everyone did their part and successfully did their job.

“Going in to the game, the team discussed focusing on the next point and playing in the present, and we did just that. The second set, we allowed too many errors on our part. But the third game, we bounced back and played aggressive and executed the game plan to close the match.”

In other district action Tuesday, 15th-ranked West (4-0 in district, 22-8 overall) rolled past Riesel, 25-10, 25-7, 25-11, 12th-ranked Troy (3-1, 20-4) pounded Harmony Science Academy, 25-3, 25-1, 25-4, and seventh-ranked Lorena (4-0, 24-4) swept past Whitney.

Responding to back-to-back district losses in convincing fashion, the Lady Cubs survived a hard-fought first set then carried the wave of momentum to a dominating sweep over the Whitney Lady Wildcats, 25-22, 25-16, 25-14, in a key District 17-3A showdown last Friday afternoon at the Clifton High School Gymnasium.

After snapping a four-game losing streak Aug. 28, the Lady Cubs (2-2, 15-10) have won five of their last seven matchups. But with senior Ava Anderson smashing 14 kills, followed by Junior Carley Caniford with 12, none have been more important that their first district win over Whitney.

“The girls had a great win over Whitney,” Poth said. “The entire team worked together to find a way to score. And defensively, we progressed as each match went on. Many times, we came from behind to even the score and take leads, successfully closing the game each set.”

Senior Kamryn Zint delivered a team-high five service aces, followed by sophomore Sydney Fullerton with four. Anderson led the Lady Cubs with 11 digs, followed by Zint with eight and Fullerton with six. In the ball handling department, Fullerton offered a team-high 35 assists, while Zint led with 19 service receptions, followed by Anderson and senior Kasandra Gaona with eight each.

After dropping their district opener against the 2020 postseason qualifying West Lady Trojans in disappointing fashion Sept. 10, the Lady Cubs began building some momentum with a strong effort against the state-ranked and district co-leading Lorena Lady Leopards.

Settling down after the first set, the Lady Cubs  took their game to the next level to give Lorena (3-0, 23-4) all they could handle before losing in straight sets, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24, on the road last Tuesday.

“It was an exciting game to be a part of,” Poth said. “We have been working hard on minimizing errors and each set. Our serve receive was fantastic with minimal error. All of our hitters were active, and our setter was getting a hand on every ball. Our defense made the right adjustments to hold their offense. Offensively, the girls found ways to score.”

Anderson crushed a team-high 15 kills, came up with 13 digs and contributed 10 service receptions, sophomore Brianna Gonzalez followed with four kills and Fullerton led Clifton with 20 assists, 10 digs with three kills. Senior Kasandra Gaona delivered two service aces, Zint led the Lady Cubs with 21 service receptions, and sophomore Laylah Gaona added 11 more.

In other action last Friday, Lorena took three straight from Riesel, 25-6, 25-12, 25-16, Troy swept past McGregor, 25-19, 25-11, 25-9, and West made quick work of Harmony Science Academy, 25-3, 25-0, 25-2.

The Lady Cubs began a stretch of five consecutive district road games this week with the trip to McGregor before traveling to Waco to face Harmony Science Academy at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

“We are a very competitive team,” Poth said. “Like any other team in the district, we are working hard to make it into the top four teams. Our expectation is to be one of those top four teams, and we are confident going into this district play together and meeting those expectations together.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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