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 : August 4, 2016| On :
Posted by : July 7, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
CROSS ROADS–Vandals recently struck Beck’s Chapel Church in the Cross Roads area. The doors appeared to have been kicked in, and several items were vandalized. The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office took the report June 22, and the incident seems to have occurred between June 19 and June 22.
The historical church is located at 13960 County Road 1114. Regular services are no longer held at the church. It is only used for special events.
If you have any information about this crime, contact Henderson County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-545-8477. Callers will remain anonymous. If your information leads to an arrest, you could earn a cash reward of up to $1,000.
Posted by : April 21, 2016| On :
Cross Roads, Malakoff and Trinidad ISDs vote in November
Special to The News
TEXAS–Early voting begins Monday, April 25 and continues through May 3, for city councils, school board trustees and water boards.
City of Malakoff candidates for three positions include Kevin Killman, Robert C. Cole, incumbants Vincent Bailey, Jr. and Jerrily Tarver, Pat Isaacson, Rickey Baker, Bubba Matthews. Voting takes place at Malakoff City Hall located at 109 Melton St.
Athens Muncipal Water Authority (AMWA) candidates for three seats include incumbents Donald A.Foster, Stephen R. Sparkman and David Thomas, and Milburn Chaney and Frank Lunceford. Voters may cast their ballots for AMWA candidates at the Henderson County Elections Administration at 201 E. Larkin in Athens.
Cross Roads and Malakoff ISDs will hold elections in November.
The City of Trinidad and Trinidad ISD will conduct November elections also.
Election Day is Saturday, May 7.
Athens ISD’s election has been cancelled due to candidtates running unopposed.
Posted by : April 7, 2016| On :
The News Photo/Ryan moulds
Cross Roads named Michael Gain as their new head coach April 4. Gain has 11 years of coaching experience and is hoping to lead the bobcats to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years. Gains has had previous stops at Skidmore-Tynan, Manvel, Mathis, Ingleside and Latexo. This is his first head coaching job. “I’m excited to be here and I’m ready to get to work,” Gain said. “I’m not coming in here expecting anything less than success.”
By Ryan Moulds
The News Staff Writer
CROSS ROADS–A new face will be roaming the sidelines for the Cross Road Bobcats this season. Michael Gain was named the new head coach of the Bobcats April 4.
Gain has been coaching high school football for 11 years. He has had previous stops at Skidmore-Tynan, Manvel, Mathis, Ingleside and Latexo. This is his first head coaching job.
“I’m very excited to be here at Cross Roads,” Gain said. “I see a lot of talent on this team. We have a lot of good pieces and once we put them together I think we will start to have success. Building a football program is like putting together a puzzle.”
Cross Roads has struggled in football and haven’t made the playoffs since 2003. The Bobcats have only had three or more wins in four of the last 15 years. This past season, the Bobcats got out to a solid start, winning three of their first five games, despite the early success the team lost their last five games in a row and didn’t win a district contest for the second straight year. They finished 3-7.
The Bobcats will graduate several key players from last year’s team including Aaron Arden, Blake McCracken, Skyler Himes and Luke Carnes. Gains will look to players like Taylor McKenzie, Tyler Johnson and Clayton Flowers to step up and make an impact next year. Gain says he expects big things out of McKenzie from the quarterback position.
“We need to gain more strength and speed in order to compete,” Gain said. “We are working on it now and I want to see results by the end of this year and then work through the summer. The big goal is to make the playoffs just like every other school wants to do.”
Cross Roads will be in a new district next season with Big Sandy, Cayuga, Gladewater, Union Grove, Hawkins and Kerens. The Bobcats hope to snap their 16 year playoff drought.
Gain calls himself an “ADHD” coach who likes to coach with a ton of energy. “I expect high energy from my coaching staff and from the kids. We want to make this an adventure and not a job.”
Above all else, Gain hopes that the kids and staff buy into his program and improve. “I’m excited to be here and I’m ready to get to work,” Gain said. “I’m not coming in here expecting anything less than success.”
Posted by : December 9, 2015| On :
By Ryan Moulds
The News Staff Writer
CROSS ROADS–The Cross Roads Bobcats basketball team are looking to improve on a successful season that ended in their advance to the third round of the state playoffs.
“We finished third in a very tough district,” second year head coach Bo Martin said. “To be in a district like this and make the playoffs and go three rounds deep is a successful season.”
“We are a very up tempo team that likes to play hard on defense,” Martin said. “We like to press for all 32 minutes and I like for the guys to be aggressive. We don’t play in the half court we like to use the full 84 feet and pressure you.”
He says the team’s style of play allows them to stay aggressive and lets all 15 players on the roster get on the court and contribute.
Martin also praised his team’s leadership and goal driven attitude. Cross Roads has nine seniors on this year’s team.
“Our team works hard and we always hustle,” senior guard Moises Alvarado said. He also said that as a guard he hopes to average 20 points per game.
Senior Aaron Arden says he wants to do whatever his team needs of him to win games. “It isn’t all about points for me,” he said. “I want to get my teammates involved so they can score too.”
Blake McCracken is another senior leader for the Bobcats. He wants to limit turnovers this season and to “make a positive impact for the team.”
“We have a lot of players coming back this year and lots of quickness,” McCracken said. “We are lacking a little bit in height but we make up for it with out speed.” He also added that the Bobcats have lots of younger players who can contribute to the team as well.
You can catch the Cross Roads Bobcats at home Dec 15. when they take on the Rice Bulldogs.
Posted by : June 18, 2013| On :
By Tracy Martin
The News Correspondent
CROSS ROADS–Leland Hand worked most of his career building the credentials to become a school district superintendent. His hard work has paid off and now just a couple weeks are between his official hiring by the Cross Roads School Board and the realization of his goal.
After graduating from East Texas Baptist University with a degree in history, his first job was teaching high school in Daingerfield (Morris County, north Texas). Soon afterward, Hand was hired as the men’s basketball coach at ET Baptist, but returned to public schools to become a high school teacher and basketball coach in Smith County.
Two more important decisions came when he accepted the job of principal at Campbell Elementary, and than as a junior high principal, near Abilene. Taking on the duties of superintendent requires a broad background and Hand wore all the hats necessary to be considered for the important position of leading the helm of an Independent School District.
What sealed the deal for Hand’s selection by the board of trustees from a field of 10 applicants was his major accomplishments at Winona High School (north of Tyler). He served as principal there the past seven years, in which the school enjoyed huge strides in both academics and athletics. It earned the Texas Education Agency designation of an “Exemplary” Campus for its 300 students.
Having surpassed all required credentials to lead Cross Roads ISD nothing on Hand’s resume can describe the enthusiasm in his voice about his new role. “It’s just so exciting, there have been opportunities to go to larger school districts, but I really value what can be done in a smaller district, building personal relationships, knowing students, teachers and parents,” he said.
Hand is already working with retiring Superintendent Clay Tompkins, so the transition should be smooth. Hand said he’s fortunate to have Tompkins as a resource, and he’s already meeting people, touring the school facilities and getting ready to take the reigns when Tompkins leaves in August.
Cross Roads ISD has about 600 students, 50 faculty members, three principals and a budget of five million dollars.
A former coach, Hand said he will support the athletics department, while helping teachers in any way he can. “I’ll look at what’s already in place and listen to the faculty to find successful approaches to academic growth and development of new and existing programs,” Hand said.
His wife, Natalie, is a school counselor in Smith County and recently received her doctorate degree in psychology. The couple has three children. A daughter Lynlee, who just got a job as a teacher in Houston and two boys, Brice, 15, and Brayden, 10.
As for making the move to the area, Hand says he loves small towns and communities and the family is looking at all their options.
Tompkins says he and the Board believe this is a great fit and says Cross Roads is very lucky to have Hand coming to the district.