Special to The News
HENDERSON COUNTY–On Sept. 23, Jamie Lawrence Meador, 31, of Brownsboro, was sentenced to 75 years in prison for a March 2015 shootout with Henderson County Deputies at a residence on CR 4305 near Coffee City. Meador was seriously injured in the shootout. Neither of the deputies was wounded.
Meador was sentenced to the 75 years for Aggravated Assault of a Peace Officer, and also sentenced to four other 20 year sentences for three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and one count of evading arrest with a motor vehicle.
Meador pled guilty to the charges earlier this year and elected to allow Judge Dan Moore of the 173rd Judicial District Court to set sentencing after a hearing. Meador was facing a punishment range of 15-99 years or life for the Aggravated Assault and up to twenty years each for the unlawful possession cases and evading arrest case.
The case was personally handled by Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee. According to McKee, the case was extremely important to him and the law enforcement community.
According to testimony and District Attorney McKee’s opening statement, the events leading up to the shootout began in December of 2014 when Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Keon Mack saw Meador on the side of the road in a broken down pickup with its hazard lights flashing. Although Meador had been to prison before, Mack testified that he did not know who Meador was when he stopped to assist him on FM 315 near Chandler.
Before offering to assist Meador, Deputy Mack asked him for his driver’s license. According to Deputy Mack, he wasn’t looking to arrest or detain Meador at the time. Mack testified that due to safety reasons, it’s important to know who you are dealing with on the side of the road in the middle of the night.
While Meador was looking for identification, Mack observed a shiny box shaped case in Meador’s front pants pocket. Upon questioning, Meador told Mack that it contained his marijuana. During a subsequent search of the case the deputy also found methamphetamine in the box.
A pat-down search of Meador yielded two additional ounces of suspected methamphetamine and over $2,000 in cash.
After the pat-down search, Meador was placed in hand restraints and a search of the truck was conducted. During the search, Deputies discovered over five pounds of crystal meth inside a stove in the back of the pickup. According to Henderson County Sheriff’s Investigator Kay Langford, the street value of the meth in 2014 was around $250,000.
Meador was arrested for the meth and was able to make bail just a few days later. According to McKee’s opening statement, he believed the bail was set “recklessly low”.
After bailing himself out of jail on the drug charges, Meador was stopped again by Deputy Mack on March 29 for a faulty license plate light. During the traffic stop, Meador admitted to smoking marijuana in the car just before the stop. As Mack tried to detain him, Meador broke free of the deputy and made it back to his vehicle and drove off at a high rate of speed while the deputy was still hanging on to him. Deputies were unable to locate him that evening and procured a warrant for his arrest the next day.
Two days later, on March 31, 2015, Henderson County Deputies Brad Beddingfield and Kyle Pochobradsky along with Sheriff Investigators Kay Langford and Wick Gabbard acting on information about the whereabouts of Meador, arrived at a home on County Road 4305.
Deputy Beddingfield, who was the first to arrive at the residence, immediately spotted Meador sitting on a 4-wheeler as soon as he drove up. As Beddingfield exited his patrol vehicle, he ordered Meador off the 4-wheeler. Rather than comply, Meador reached into a rifle case that was strapped to the front of the 4-wheeler and retrieved an AR 15 assault rifle. Meador then immediately raised the rifle and fired a shot at Beddingfield at a distance of less than 30 feet.
The shot missed Beddingfield and he immediately began returning fire. As this engagement was beginning between Meador and Beddingfield, Deputy Kyle Pochobradsky, the second officer to arrive at the residence, had already exited his vehicle and could hear Beddingfield giving Meador commands.
During questioning by District Attorney McKee, Pochobradsky told the judge that although he could not see the defendant as he was exiting his vehicle, he could tell something was wrong in Beddingfield’ s voice. Pochobradsky and Beddingfield began their careers at about the same time, first in the Henderson County Jail and through the years working together in various positions within the department. “I knew something wasn’t right by the sound of his voice.” Said Pochobradsky,
Pochobradsky testified that after hearing Beddingfield, he rushed to the back of the house where Beddingfield and Meador were located. As he was rushing to the location, he could see and hear the gunfire. Pochobradsky was able to draw his weapon and engage Meador.
The entire event lasted only a few seconds and was captured by Beddingfield’ s in-car video.
Meador, testifying against his attorney James Mills’ advice, said he never intended to kill the officers and that he was trying to commit suicide by cop.
During his testimony, Meador told the court that his life got out of control when he started using methamphetamine.
Meador also testified about the wounds he received in the shootout and his medical conditions. Since the shootout, Meador told the court that he doesn’t have full use of his legs or his bowels.
During cross-examination, McKee pressed Meador to tell him where he got the over five pounds of meth as well as what he planned to do with it. Meador testified that he was transporting it for drug dealers when he ran out of gas.
Meador apologized to the officers for what could have happened.
“I apologize for putting ya’ll in that position. I was only thinking about me,” he said. “I know you’ll do a good job.”
Meador has been arrested several times in Henderson County. Among the charges are felony drug and illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. He was released from prison in 2012.
Meador’s drug charges are still pending in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Posted by : September 29, 2016| On :
Posted by : September 22, 2016| On :
By Toni Garrard Clay
AISD Communications Coordinator
ATHENS–The evening of Sept. 15 was a celebration of achievement, past and present, for Athens ISD as many of the community’s leading citizens attended a gala honoring the inaugural class of the Hornet Hall of Fame.
Athens High School class of 1940 graduate Vivian Anderson Castleberry, 1977 AHS graduate Drew Douglas, and the late historic Athens educator R.C. Fisher were all inducted and honored before a crowd of about 90.
“This started with the simple idea that, as a school district, we should not only be looking forward toward our goals, but backward as well, to honor the remarkable achievements of so many who have come before,” said AISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Janie Sims. “This is only the beginning.”
Each of the inductees were introduced through short biographical videos, which have been posted to the district’s website, www.athensisd.net and Facebook page Athens Independent School District.
Following their introductions, Castleberry and Douglas were interviewed on stage by AISD Communications Coordinator Toni Garrard Clay about their time as a Hornet and their accomplishments since. Following Fisher’s biographical piece, Fisher High Alumni Association President Prince Fite joined Clay on stage to discuss his experience as a 1962 graduate of R.C. Fisher High School, which closed in 1966 with desegregation.
Castleberry describes her time as a student in Athens during the pre-World War II years as pivotal in determining the course of her life. During her senior year, 1939-40, she was president of the student council, editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and member of a debate team that won third place in state.
She went on to graduate from Southern Methodist University and in the mid-1950s was hired as the home editor for the Dallas Times Herald, where she remained for 28 years. During her time as women’s editor, Castleberry revolutionized how newspapers covered women’s issues.
“I didn’t want to just write about things,” she said. “I wanted to write about people.”
Upon retirement, a trip to Russia as a citizen diplomat led to Castleberry founding Peacemakers Incorporated and the subsequent hosting of several international conferences. She has authored a number of books, is the namesake of the University of North Texas Castleberry Peace Institute, and in 1984 was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. She and her late husband, Curtis Castleberry, were married for “67 years, 7 months, 27 days and 21 hours.” She has five daughters and many grand and great-grandchildren.
Drew Douglas is a graduate of the AHS class of 1977 and is currently serving as the Athens Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year. He was a standout football player for the Hornets and graduated near the top of his class. Douglas enrolled at Baylor University, where he walked onto the Bears’ football team his first two years and was named scout team player of the year both years. His junior and senior years, he received a full scholarship.
In 1983, having had his real estate license since his last year in college Douglas began to buy, sell, trade, invest in and develop real estate. He earned his broker’s license in 1984, partnered with Steve Grant in 1989, and has been a general contractor for the past decade.
In August of 2010, Douglas opened the Athens Thrift Store. The store accepts donated goods, which it offers to the public at reasonable prices. The profits are then given away. Since opening, Athens Thrift Store has contributed approximately $300,000 to 20 different non-profit organizations in Henderson County.
Douglas has two children, Jessica and Joseph, and three grandchildren. He and his wife, Lori, have been married since 1992.
Richard “R.C.” Fisher was born in 1888, the son of a former slave and the youngest of six children. After attending public school in High Bank, Texas, he went on to graduate from Prairie View State Normal School for the training of teachers.
In 1914 under a segregated system, Fisher joined the faculty of a two-room wood schoolhouse on the north side of Athens called, “Athens Colored School.” When he became principal in 1925, he renamed it “Blackshear” to honor Edward L. Blackshear, a former professor of his.
Fisher died in 1932 after a short illness at the age of 44, having been predeceased by his wife and only child, a daughter. Upon his death, the new brick building constructed to serve African-American students was named in his honor.
During his time in Athens, R.C. Fisher was in many ways a liaison between the African-American and white communities. In addition to being a principal at Blackshear High School, he began serving in 1920 as a team trainer, known then as a “rub doctor,” for the football and basketball teams at Athens High School. The respect for Fisher, affectionately known then as “Doc Fisher,” was such that when Grand Saline announced they would not allow him on their sideline, Athens High School refused to play there.
After his death, Jimmie Kitts, a former coach at Athens High School, described Fisher as having had “all the fine qualities in his character that a man could possess.”
Posted by : September 15, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
News Staff Writer
ATHENS–Athens attorney Nancy Perkins has pledged a multi-million-dollar gift in honor of her mother, naming the Trinity Valley Community College Foundation as the beneficiary of her entire estate, the largest single gift ever made.
The gift will be formally announced and celebrated at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 in the auditorium attached to the Orval Pirtle Administration Building. The auditorium will ultimately be named the Pauline Knight Perkins Performing Arts Center.
Pauline graduated from Athens High School in 1944 and spent the summer as a model for Neiman Marcus. “My mother was a beauty at 5-8 and 115 pounds,” Nancy told The Monitor “She was stunningly beautiful.” After that she worked as a stenographer for the state and applied to work at the college, she added.
Pauline Perkins was the first secretary to college founder and President Orval Pirtle, and ultimately became the longest-living member of the original faculty. Pauline passed away May 22, 2016 at the age of 90.
Nancy will present a 1946-47 signed yearbook belonging to her mother to the TVCC Foundation as a token of the gift yet to come.
While at the college, Pauline studied to obtain her teaching degree and fulfilled a 27-year career in education. Her first position was as a sixth grade teacher for the Mabank school district, Nancy said, though most of her mother’s teaching was at the middle and high schools in Athens. She retired from teaching in 1989 but continued to live a life of service, assisting her daughter in her law practice.
“TVCC is where my mother began her professional career and where she was happiest,” Nancy told representatives of the college. “Her gift is her legacy, which we believe will help future generations and will forever commemorate her beauty and generosity.”
Nancy Perkins is a practicing attorney throughout the state of Texas and a Mabank High School 1973 Valedictorian. “It is because of her encouragement that I have what I have,” she told The Monitor.
“Nancy’s extraordinary generosity in leaving a legacy gift to TVCC in her will and estate plans is truly inspiring to everyone at TVCC. The kindness and humbleness demonstrated by Nancy will live on for generations to come,” said TVCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the TVCC Foundation Kristen Bennett. “This gift will make a monumental impact in the lives of students for decades. Because of Nancy and her mother — their indelible love of TVCC and concern for others — their gifts will remind us all that we, too, can make a difference in the lives that follow.”
“Trinity Valley has been blessed by the support and contributions of former students and community members. We want to express our deepest thanks to Nancy Perkins,” TVCC President Dr. Jerry King added. “The generosity of this gift in honor of her mother, Pauline Perkins, to Trinity Valley will provide a legacy that will positively impact the lives of our students and their families for generations.”
After high school, Nancy earned an Associate’s degree at Henderson County Junior College and a triple bachelor degree in history, political science and criminal justice at University of Texas-Austin on a four–year fellowship in 1976. From there she attended the University of Houston, where she became the youngest (22) to graduate with a doctorate of Jurisprudence. She passed the bar exam at Southern Methodist University and opened a law office in Athens in 1979.
The usual seven years or more most take to complete a law degree, she pared down to five short years. She said she was in a hurry to be useful, an attitude she gets from her mother.
Nancy described the years since her mother’s retirement in 1989. Her mother helped her in her law practice as a trial lawyer, handling both civil and criminal cases from east, north and central Texas. “We both worked and we both saved and along the way we accumulated a large estate,” Nancy said.
“My mother went with me into prisons and jails. She attended seminars with me and helped me with the paperwork and scheduling. Right up to the day of her death, she asked me if I had any new cases. I told her ‘yes, in Tyler and I want you to be with me.’ She never quit. She was truly the wind beneath my wings.”
She then went on to attend law school at the University of Houston, where she was the youngest person (22) to graduate with a doctorate of Jurisprudence degree. She took her bar exam at SMU and began her law career in Athens in 1979.
Posted by : September 8, 2016| On :
Special to The News
HENDERSON COUNTY– In his continuing attack on the drug trade, Henderson County Sheriff Botie Hillhouse led a team of deputies on a house raid over the Labor Day weekend and arrested three people.
“Even on the holidays, we are on guard,” Hillhouse said. “Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is working hard to get these folks off our streets, just as I promised the people.”
The night of Sept. 3into the early hours of the next morning, Hillhouse and seven of his deputies executed a narcotics search warrant at a Chandler home.
Laurie Perry, 56 of Chandler was arrested for manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, a first degree felony carrying a penalty of up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
Both Stanton Pearce, 54, of Tyler and James Littlejohn, 30, were arrested at a residence on Lovely Drive in the Forest Grove subdivision in Chandler.
Both Pearce and Littlejohn were charged with possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
Investigator Brad Beddingflield presented Judge Dan Moore of the 173rd District Court with information that led the search warrant for the arrests.
Hillhouse called upon a team of investigators Beddingfield, Josh Rickman, Ray Yockey, Cayce Hampton, Jeromey Rose, Patrol Sargent Daniel Wright and Deputy Linus Multon to conduct the raid.
“These are the men and women who put their lives on the line every day,” Hillhouse said. “It is too easy to forget that real people, real law enforcement officers, risk everything to keep our community safe and drug free.
“We never know what is behind that door when we approach a home on a raid,” he said. “That is why these deputies deserve our thanks.”
Posted by : September 1, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–Raheem Mark Miller has been found guilty Tuesday of capital murder in the death of Cedric Alvin Collins, 23 of Malakoff on June 8, 2014. Jurors returned the guilty verdict after two hours of deliberations.
This conviction has a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
The State of Texas and the defense rested on Monday, Aug. 29 in a trial which began with jury selection only a week prior. The defense rested without calling any witnesses.
According to reports, Collins was found lying beside his vehicle in the 700 block of Robbins Road, near the intersection of Lantana and Robbins, with what appeared to be a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to East Texas Medical Center where he later died.
Witnesses had reported seeing two men fleeing the scene. Det. Adam Parkins was assigned the case and obtained information that pointed to Miller.
The jurors heard five days of testimony in which the Henderson County prosecutor tried to prove Miller had murdered Collins after robbing him, making this a capital murder offense. Evidence included videotaped interviews with the defendant.
The third videotape contained an interview conducted by Bobby Rachel, a reserve deputy from Navarro County who had been asked to interview Miller at the request of Texas Ranger Michael Adcock. During the interview, which jurors watched, Miller said he and another man made a plan to rob Collins after arranging a drug deal selling fake drugs.
Miller told Rachel he didn’t plan on using a gun. Miller said that Collins was killed after the other person pulled a gun on Collins and they fought over it. Investigators cleared the other person mentioned in Miller’s testimony of any wrongdoing in the murder case.
Miller had denied having a gun but eventually admitted to Rachel that he did have one. When Rachel asked if he shot Collins, Miller denied ever pulling the trigger. Miller has denied being the one who pulled the trigger since his arrest.
Miller had been held on a $2,000,000 bond in the Henderson County Justice Center since the 2014 murder. Defense attorneys John Youngblood and James Mills represented Miller. Assistant District Attorney Danny Cox assisted District Attorney Scott McKee with the prosecution.
In closing arguments, District Attorney Scott McKee reviewed the evidence as presented by the state. McKee stated that Miller killed Collins while committing the felony crime of robbery, making this a capital murder.
Judge Carter Tarrance had informed the jury they could find Miller guilty of captial murder, felony murder, aggravated robbery or robbery.
While the defendent showed little emotion when the verdict was read, the families of the victim and defendant were emotional.
Posted by : August 11, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–More than 100 souls came out for a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Jeb Hensarling Aug.3 at the Senior Center in Athens. Each audience member who wanted to comment or ask a question was given two minutes to present, after which the 5th District Congressman from Texas responded.
The meeting was prefaced with a prayer by local minister Mark Hall, who asked God’s forgiveness for America’s departure from its founding principles of truth, morality and justice and asked courage on behalf of local citizens to stand united against tyranny and injustice.
The first question taken asked why so many Republicans in national office talk down about Donald Trump. “Why is he regarded so poorly?”
“I have publicly endorsed him as the Republican nominee for president, even though he wasn’t my first choice,” Hensarling responded. “I don’t know how he would govern, but I do know how Hillary Clinton will, and I vehemently oppose all her major policies. We can’t allow another liberal to be named to the Supreme Court for a generation. Further, I know Mike Pence, well. He’s a true conservative leader of high moral character and integrity. It speaks volumes that Trump named him as his running mate. I have no problem endorsing Trump, but reserve the right to disagree with him from time to time.”
Most of the other questions and comments had similar responses, pointing out that a change in the White House will be able to solve a lot of the issues under discussion. Those included dissolving the Sanctuary City program, birth-right citizenship to children of illegals, entitlement programs that attract illegal immigrants, accepting immigration from enemy countries such as Syria and Iraq and requiring work from welfare recipients.
Commenting on the latest news, Hensarling said Congress would launch a full investigation into the $400 million payment from the administration to Iran and the subsequent return of three Americans being held in Iran. “The paying of ransom for hostages is against U.S. policy and hadn’t been approved by the House,” he said.
Someone asked why Congress and the president were not enforcing the McCarran–Walter Act of 1952, which was enacted over President Truman’s veto. Sponsor Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nevada), in a speech on the Senate floor March 2,1953 defended the legislation with these words:
“I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds and colors. … However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States. … I do not intend to become prophetic, but if the enemies of this legislation succeed in riddling it to pieces, or in amending it beyond recognition, they will have contributed more to promote this nation’s downfall than any other group since we achieved our independence as a nation.”
Posted by : August 11, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
The News Sports Writer
EUSTACE–The Athens Lady Hornets started the season off right with a 3-0 victory over Mildred during the first game of a triple header at E.L. Kirk Gymnasium in Eustace Aug. 9.
The Lady Hornets won all three sets by scores of 25-9, 25-11 and 25-15.
In the first match of the night, the Lady Hornets looked sharp from the whistle, scoring the first seven points against the Lady Eagles.
Athens opened with a kill from Alicia Grogan off an assist from McKenzie Fowler. Fowler had back-to-back kills during the opening set to open things up for the Lady Hornets.
Following a kill by Mildred, Athens went on another mini run to extend the lead to 11-1.
The final point of the first set came on a kill from Jennifer Bradford for the 25-9 finale.
The second set started off tighter between the two teams until Athens scored the final seven points of the game to pull away late and take the 2-0 lead.
With the Lady Hornets up 22-11 on a kill by Nicole Hill, Sam Smith followed with an ace and the combination of Fowler and Hill put it away with a kill from Hill.
In the final set, Hill had three kills late while Smith had two aces for the final six points of the match.
“I thought we played well for it being our first game,” Athens coach Kayla Benton said. “We still have some stuff that we need to work on but I think that we will have everything worked out by the time district play starts. We have a lot of senior leadership on this team and it really showed today.”
The victory made Athens 1-0 on the season.
Posted by : August 4, 2016| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
The News Staff
ATHENS–In view of the next two-week weather forecast with high temperatures in the triple digits and no rain in sight, Henderson County Commissioners agreed to post a burn ban as recommended by County Fire Marshal Shane Renberg. Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronny Lawrence opposed the action.
The ban went into effect immediately, Tuesday, Aug. 2 and lasts for the next 28 days unless the court rescinds it due to improved conditions. On Tuesday, Renberg said the average drought conditions in the county scored 624 on the Keetch-Bynum Drought Index, up from 608, last week. According to the long-range forecast, this number is expected to climb to 700 in the next two weeks, on a zero-800 scale. “The number of grassfires in the county are way up,” Renberg pointed out as ground moisture continues to disappear. Athens Fire Chief John McQueary said, the grass fires his unit has extinguished would not have been prevented by a burn ban he said. “However, any small spark can start one,” he said.
Renberg noted that the threshold for calling a burn ban is 575. And that a burn ban is always easier to rescind then to initiate.
Commissioners also agreed to a number of interlocal agreements to conduct the the Nov. 8 General Election on behalf of several taxing authorities in the county, including Caney City, Payne Springs, Tool, East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District, Enchanted Oaks and independent school districts in Brownsboro, Larue-Poynor and Murchison. They discussed some of the mechanics involved in a presidential election and the availability of voting equipment. Elections official Denise Hernandez didn’t make it to court that morning due to a collision in the courthouse square between a member of her staff and another vehicle, causing the staffer’s car to flip over three times, while having a 9-year-old daughter on board. No fatalities or serious injuries were reported, Hernandez said following the close of the meeting.
Commissioners agreed to consider an application for tax abatement submitted by Clayton Homes, along with the application fee of $1,000. A workshop is to be set to review various scenarios within the next 21 days, and public hearings to be held on the matter.
Athens Economic Development Executive Director Lisa Denton introduced Rick Groom of Indiana representing Clayton Homes to the court. His company has purchased a property formerly held by Champion Homes and plans to manufacture model homes. Groom, who will oversee operations, said the company plans to hire around 250 employees by the beginning of 2017. He added the base pay is targeted at $600 per week. The property was purchased last October and the production facility is 70 percent completed to begin manufacture operations in October.
Denton remarked that the City of Athens has already approved a tax abatement agreement. After the meeting, Commissioner Lawrence told The News that since its purchase by Clayton, the property has increased in value, more than doubling the tax assessments for the school district and Road and Bridge – at least two taxing entities that would be unaffected by the proposed five-year county tax abatement. “The county would get twice the tax money it is currently getting from the property, even with a tax abatement agreement,” Lawrence estimated.
Finally, commissioners approved a preliminary plat for a new residential subdivision along Lake Palestine called Windham Place. Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin described the project as being built in two phases with a total of 43 homes on 42 acres. The plat includes a variance request of the 80-foot frontage required by subdivision rules for eight homes located on cul-de-sacs. “This is the first new subdivision in my five and a half years on the court,” Geeslin said. It gave him opportunity to become well acquainted with the county’s subdivision rules. He said the court should expect revisions from him on how the process can be revamped and steam-lined.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Wade McKinney commented that variances on the rules was not unheard of, as the court granted variances in 2011, he said.
In other business, commissioners
• granted right-of-way permits to Oncor for a pole-ing station to serve Gun Barrel City. Right-of-ways were granted along Pecan Road (C.R. 2938) and part of Peachtree Road.
• approved payroll distributions.
• paid bills totaling $238,051.11.
Posted by : August 4, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
The News Sports Writer
HENDERSON COUNTY–The helmets and pads came out again as Texas high school football teams began two-a-days on August 1. Several local teams around the lake are gearing up for the first game of the season August 26.
The Malakoff Tigers enter the season with more hype than any other team in the area. They are picked to win district 9-3A and are ranked number four in the state. The eight-team district is picked to finish with Malakoff in first place followed by Teague, Groesbeck, West, Palestine Westwood, Elkhart, Whitney and Eustace.
Everything starts with the quarterback for Malakoff. Judd Miller had 3,199 total yards and 46 touchdowns a season ago as a sophomore. He returns as a junior with more experience and with two big targets to throw to in QT Barker and Tyler Russell.
Jamie Driskell’s defense will be led by Dan’Yal Littleton, a fierce defensive end who can get after the quarterback. Other standouts on defense are Larry Coker, Zee Bailey, Caleb Adams and Breashawn Williams.
Malakoff has an explosive offensive that has a chance to be even better than they were last year. They have a defense to match up with anyone and should be able to make a deep playoff run. The Tigers have a legitimate shot to hold up a championship trophy at AT&T Stadium at the end of the year.
Malakoff went 10-2 last season and was knocked out of the playoffs by three-time defending State Champion Cameron Yoe by one point. The Tigers finished second in district behind Teague, who beat Malakoff 28-7 in their rain-soaked match-up. Malakoff returns 13 starters and the varsity roster will be bolstered by a JV squad that went 8-2 last season.
“We have to take things one game at a time,” Driskell said. “Having all the pre-season hype is great, but the games are won on the field not on paper, and we have to show up ready to compete every week if we want to accomplish our goal.”
Driskell also said that he hopes for a rematch with Cameron Yoe in the playoffs this season. “The loss still stings,” he said. “I don’t know if it will ever fully go away but if we get another chance I think that things would go differently this time around.”
The Athens Hornets are in district 8-4A. Athens will be led by Head Coach Paul Essary who is in his eighth year at the helm.
The biggest hump that the Hornets will need to overcome is replacing running back Logan Fuller who had over 6,000 career rushing yards and signed to play at Tyler Junior College. Maalik Hall will split time at running back with Jaqualyon Bowman, and they will try to make up for Fuller’s absence.
Xavius Fulton will make the switch from receiver to quarterback. He will be tasked to replace Brandon Boyd. Athens is hoping to run the pistol on offense this season.
Defensively, linebacker Noah Bush might be the best player for the Hornets. He had 120 tackles last year as a junior and has already been getting attention from division one colleges. Between Bush, Hall, Zach Carson and Taylor Carson, Athens might have the best linebacker core in the district.
The Hornets will have the talent they need to compete on defense. In order to make it into the playoffs in a district with two state ranked teams, they must find what it takes to keep up on offense.
Last season, Athens went 8-4 and lost in the second round of the playoffs to Kennedale. The Hornets finished second in the district behind Kaufman.
“It’s an exciting time for Hornet Nation,” Essary said. “We are working on building a tradition of winning and anything short of the playoffs isn’t acceptable. We lost a lot on offense, but younger guys are going to step up and play hard for us. I think the sky is the limit for our team.”
The Cross Roads Bobcats will be playing in district 10-2A this season. They are picked to finish last. The six-team district is picked to finish in the order of Big Sandy, Kerens, Gladewater Union Grove, Cayuga, Hawkins and Cross Roads.
The Bobcats are under new leadership this season. Former Skidmore-Tynan assistant coach Michael Gain takes over for a team that has not made the playoffs since 2003.
Despite history not being on their side, it may finally be time for optimism. Cross Roads won three games last season and only has one team on their schedule that finished last year with a winning record. Gain has been working hard with the team and thinks that they have what it takes to have success.
Taylor McKenzie will take over as quarterback for the Bobcats and Tyler Johnson is a proven work horse at the running back position. Johnson was injured halfway through the season last year and hopes to stay healthy to lead Cross Roads to more victories.
If everyone can stay healthy and the players buy what coach Gain is selling them, Cross Roads could sneak into the playoffs in a weak district.
The Bobcats went 3-7 last season and looked strong early on, but they went 0-5 in district play to end the year.
“We have the pieces in place to make the playoffs,” Gain said. “I like what we have on offense and defense, and we are all working hard every day to end the 13-year playoff drought. I want to make every day an adventure, and I want to get better while we have fun working.”
The Trinidad Trojans are picked to finish last in district 15-1A. The four-team district is picked to finish in the order of Milford, Mount Calm, Oakwood and Trinidad. The top two teams make the playoffs.
Trinidad hired a new coach after Scott Hayes announced that he was leaving to take a coaching job at Rice High School June 29. James Massarelli will step in and try to guide the Trojans back to the playoffs.
Massarelli will have one of the most exciting players in the district at his disposal in receiver Jerry Bannister. Colby Snider is a proven quarterback and will make the coaching transition easier.
Other players to watch include Johnny Ayala, Eli Arnold, Talon Sims and Ronald Marcus. The toughest task will be to replace Javonte Hornbuckle and his 18 total touchdowns. No one player will be able to pick up the slack by himself but, collectively, it’s possible.
The district is very top heavy and Trinidad is a very experienced team. The Trojans have the chance to compete and play spoiler. Trinidad finished with a 3-7 record last year and was 0-3 in district.
The high school football season starts on August 26. Malakoff will take on Bullard at home, Athens will be on the road at Mexia, Cross Roads will take on Frost and Trinidad will play Campbell.
The News will release its fall sports preview August 25. It will have information on all the local football, volleyball and cross country teams.
Posted by : July 28, 2016| On :
By Emmalee Doss
The News Correspondent
ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners Court met to determine whether a burn ban needed to be in effect, pay bills and accept the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission in honor of the Henderson County Historical Commission.
Much discussion passed as to how the upcoming rain would reduce the number of fires and whether it was time to put a burn ban into effect. Fire Marshal Shane Renberg made clear that there has not been a burn ban in effect up until this point, and the burn ban will be reconsidered at the next meeting if dry conditions continue.
The Commissioners Court accepted the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission in honor of the hard work of the Henderson County Historical Commission. The certificate awarded stated that the award was “in recognition of the county’s active and balanced preservation program.” Special thanks went to Sarah Jane, Betty Hallwell, Ivy Joe and everyone involved.
Commissioners agreed to pay the $137,601.97 in state fees and $159,818.57 for regular bills. There was speculation as to whether or not they were going through the budget faster than expected due to the state policy change regarding the addition of mental health care not budgeted in the medical budget.
The commissioners voted to approve a contract between the Department of State Health Services and the Henderson County Clerk’s Office regarding birth certificates.