By Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writer
MABANK–The Athens Hornets picked up their first win of the 2016 season after defeating the winless Mabank Panthers 41-14 in the District 8-4A opener Sept. 23 at Panther Stadium.
Mabank (0-5) were bested by the Hornets (1-4) by the tune of 41-14 and hope to get in the win column this week when they travel to Brownsboro to face the Bears.
The Hornets got scoring underway with just 2:21 remaining in the first quarter when Noah Bush ran the ball in the end zone for a two-yard touchdown. After the missed PAT, Athens led 6-0.
A Panthers miscue handed the ball back to the Hornets, when Panthers return man Jacob Collinsworth fumbled the kickoff, with Athens recovering on the Mabank 35-yard line.
Fifteen yards later on fourth down, Junior quarterback Xavius Fulton ran the ball to the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. Fulton also converted the two-point play to take a 14-0 Athens lead.
The Panthers threatened to cut the lead in half at the 7:14 mark, but Collinsworth fumbled again, giving the ball over to Athens at the 10-yard line.
The Hornets punished the Panthers on the resulting drive, as Bush powered his way into the end zone for the second touchdown of the night to make the score 21-0 after the PAT.
Athens wasn’t done. Before the halftime buzzer sounded, Fulton ran in 1-yard touchdown with just five second remaining, followed by a successful PAT, to give Athens a 28-0 lead at the break.
The Panthers got their only touchdown of the game in the third quarter when quarterback Clay Conway ran the ball into the endzone for a 1-yard touchdown. After the PAT, the score was 28-7.
The Hornets scored two touchdowns in the final quarter, a 7-yard run by Fulton and a 28-yard run by Kamion Tanner to bring the score to 14-7. Mabank’s final points came on a Ty Mathis touchdown run with 40 seconds remaining.
Panthers Head Coach Mikey Thompson was pleased with the boys effort, but says the Panthers have to cut out giving away turnovers if they are going to win.
“Our kids played extremely hard for all four quarters of the game,” Thompson said. “We have got to get over the hump of being a ‘young team’ and quit making mistakes. Turnovers and penalties at key moments of the game have cost us all year.”
According to Thompson the Panthers are averaging a healthy 5.6 yards per rush, and are, on average, giving up less than 300 yards defensively per game.
“I am proud of our kid’s effort,” he said. “We don’t give up! Rebuilding this program is a process.”
Joey Schmidt led Mabank in rushing with 41 yards on four carries. Its defense was led by Hunter Caves with 12.5 tackles, including one for a loss.
Posted by : September 30, 2016| On :
By Erik Walsh
Posted by : September 22, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
TYLER–The No. 4-ranked Malakoff Tigers improved to 3-0 on the season with a 46-14 victory over the Tyler Grace Community Cougars Friday at Tiger Stadium.
QT Barker had a highlight-reel 73-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the game to bring the Tigers into a tie 7-7. In the second quarter the Tigers took the lead for good when Judd Miller found Tyler Russell for a seven-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion gave Malakoff the 15-7 lead.
JaQuaylon Hart helped the cause on defense, running back a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 22-7 lead. The final Tigers touchdown in the first half was another pass from Miller to Russell for a 9-yard strike. Malakoff led 29-7 at the break.
After halftime, the Tigers just kept bringing it to Tyler Grace. Barker got things going again with a 48-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, followed by a PAT by Everardo Garcia to make the score 36-7.
Garcia booted a 28-yard field goal to build the lead to 39-7. Grace answered by their final touchdown of the night to make the score 39-14 in the fourth quarter.
RJ Carr scored the final touchdown on the night with a 86-yard run to bring the score to the 46-14 final.
The Tigers are back in action Sept. 23 in the District 9-3A opener against the Whitney Wildcats at Tiger Stadium.
Posted by : September 15, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–The Athens Hornets are still looking for their first win of the season following a 42-21 loss to the 5A Red Oak Hawks Sept. 9.
The Hornets got out on the right foot, scoring the game’s first touchdown on a 11-yard run from JaQuaylon Bowman. Dakota Anderson made good on the extra point for the Hornets to take a 7-0 lead at the 7:15 mark in the first quarter. That’s as good as things got for the Hornets, as the Hawks scored 28 unanswered points to take a stranglehold in the contest.
Red Oak’s first touchdown came in the opening seconds of the second quarter when quarterback Chris Bugg found Jordan Munoz in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass at the 11:52 mark. Kicker Edgar Perez kicked the PAT to tie the game 7-7.
The Hawks scored again just two and a half minutes later when Bugg went deep to Brock Houston for a 41-yard touchdown pass at the 9:30 mark. Red Oak led 14-7 and stayed in the lead for the remainder of the contest.
The Hornets surrendered momentum to Red Oak on the ensuing kickoff by fumbling the ball on the one-yard line, where the Hawks recovered and followed up with a touchdown run to take a 21-7 lead with 9:13 remaining.
The Hawks were not done as with 6:01 remaining in the half, Bugg ran in a 12-yard touchdown for the 28-7 lead.
Athens got one more score on the board before halftime when quarterback Xavius Fulton found Noah Bush for a 32-yard touchdown with 1:57 remaining. Anderson kicked PAT for the 21-14 deficit.
Red Oak came out in the second half and extended the lead back to three touchdowns when Houston caught a six-yard touchdown at the reception in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets final touchdown came at 6:08 when Fulton connected with Bush again, this time for a 68-yard touchdown strike to bring the game to 35-21.
The Hawks scored one more time, with a 83-yard run from Blake Sonnier at the 2:52 mark to bring to the score to its 42-21 final.
Fulton finished the with 100 passing yards and two touchdowns and four interceptions. He had 29 yards rushing. Athens finished the night with 270 yards of offense, compared to 416 for Red Oak.
The Athens Hornets are in a spot they have not seen since the 2005 football season following a 42-21 loss to the Red Oak Hawks in the home opener.
The Hornets fall to 0-3 and the Hawks improve to 2-1. Athens hopes to pick up its first win of the season Friday when they host the Robison Rockets for homecoming. Kick off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Robinson is 3-0 after its 56-14 victory over Troy last week.
Posted by : September 8, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS–The visiting Fairfield Eagles came away with a 18-0 win over the Athens Hornets in the second week of high school football action Sept. 2 at Bruce Field.
The only score in the first half was a field goal kick by Fairfield’s Erik Rodriguez Reyes in the second quarter.
Both teams went into the locker room at half with Fairfield leading 3-0.
The third quarter remained scoreless for both teams.
Fairfield had success moving the ball in the fourth quarter and the Eagles’ quarterback Zach Barlow hit Erik Rodriguez Reyes with a pass for a touchdown. Although Fairfield thought about a extra point kick, they decided to go for a two-point conversion and had success with Reyes scoring the two points, bringing the score to 11-0 Fairfield.
The Eagles scored a rushing touchdown by Kameron Ransom to close out the game along with Reyes kicking the extra point, ending the game with Fairfield up 18-0.
This loss along with week one’s loss brings the Athens Hornets to 0-2 for the season. Athens hosts Red Oak Friday, Sept. 9 at home. Red Oak won Sept. 2 beating Arlington Heights of Fort Worth 17-14 Sept. 2 and they are 1-1 for the season.
Fairfield lost to La Vega in week one and are now 1-1 for the season. They travel to Palestine and play the Wildcats also Friday, Sept. 9, who beat Jacksonville 49-40 Sept. 2 and are 2-0 for the season.
Posted by : September 1, 2016| On :
The News Staff Reports
MALAKOFF–The No. 7-ranked Malakoff Tigers came out on fire in the opening game of the season against the Bullard Panthers Aug. 26 at Tiger Stadium.
Malakoff thumped Bullard by a score of 46-7 to improve to 1-0 on the year. The Tigers return to action Friday on the road at Rusk.
In the victory over Bullard, the Tigers opened up the scoring with a 46-yard touchdown by Jaquaylon Hart for the 6-0 lead. Malakoff went for two but the pass to Tyler Russell was incomplete.
The Tigers held a 12-0 lead as senior Q.T. Barker picked off a Bullard pass and ran 102-yards for the touchdown. Malakoff went for two but missed the conversion.
In the second quarter, Malakoff quarterback Judd Miller connected on a pass to Barker for a 32-yard touchdown. The Tigers went for two but failed on the conversion for the 18-0 lead.
Malakoff scored again with a long run as Breashawn Williams scampered 32 yards for the touchdown. Everardo Garcia nailed the PAT for the 25-0 lead.
Running back A.J. Cook added a four-yard touchdown. Garcia nailed his second PAT for the 32-0 lead.
Following an interception by Zee Bailey, Miller capped off the first half scoring with a four-yard run for the 40-0 lead. Miller found Russell on the two-point conversion. It was a conversion of 34 yards after two penalties following the touchdown.
In the second half, the Panthers got on the score board as Cleet Bowman found Will McCowin on a three yard pass for the 40-7 deficit. McCowin booted the PAT good.
Malakoff ended the scoring with a 60-yard touchdown run by Williams for the 46-7 finale.
Miller finished the game 7-of-13 passing for 144 yards and one touchdown. Williams rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Cook finished with 53 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hart was the leading receiver with three catches for 74 yards.
“It was a typical early in the year game where a lot of mistakes were made,” Tigers Head Coach Jamie Driskell said. “We capitalized on some of their mistakes early, so it was a good first half. In the second half, we were tired, they were tired. We still have a mountain to climb. We gotta get better and better each week. We gotta get in shape, it was so hot and muggy tonight and we played a lot of guys both ways. I’m proud of them, though.”
Posted by : August 18, 2016| On :
By Erik Walsh
The News Staff Writer
MALAKOFF-The Malakoff Lady Tigers emerged victorious in three sets over cross-lake rivals Eustace Lady Bulldogs in a Aug. 16 matchup in Malakoff.
The clean sweep by Malakoff was the only meeting of the two teams this season. The Lady Tigers won by scores of 25-19, 25-22 and 25-23.
In sub-varsity action, the Eustace freshman defeated Malakoff in two sets, 25-18, 25-15; and the Malakoff JV won in three sets, 25-23, 22-25 and 15-10.
Eustace jumped out to a 4-1 lead in game one before extending it to 11-8. The Lady Tigers fought back to take the lead 20-18 before securing the victory 25-23.
Malakoff never trailed in game two, jumping out to a 4-1 to begin the set. Eustace eventually tied it up 7-7, but the Lady Tigers reclaimed the lead and never surrendered it. Malakoff went up 15-12 before advancing the lead to 18-15, then 22-19. They won game two 25-22.
After the hard fought game both teams set their sights on the Eustace tournament this weekend. The Lady Bulldogs’ first game is August 18 at 8 a.m. against Blooming Grove. The loss drops Eustace’s record to 4-4.
The Lady Tigers open play in the Eustace tournament at 3 p.m. against Quinlan Boles. The win over Eustace gave Malakoff its first win of the season.
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 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 :
The News Staff Reports
ATHENS– Athens High School athletic director Paul Essary has wrapped up his hires for the upcoming school year with six new coaches.
Two of the coaches are returning hires in middle school coordinator Cody Hines and assistant coach Jarrett Buchholtz.
Hines was a middle school coordinator two years ago and is coming back in the same role working with the seventh and eighth grade boys.
Buchholtz worked two years as a varsity coach and then came back. He will work with the seventh and eighth grade football, basketball and track team.
Essary has two former Hornets on the middle school coaching staff in brothers Devon and Desmond Bowie. Both played football and basketball for Athens and were on the 2010 football team that went four rounds deep in the playoffs.
Essary said that it is exciting to bring back past Hornet players to be a part of Hornet nation. They will be working with the middle school football and girls basketball and track.
In the varsity football program, Essary promoted coach Cresendo Bush from the middle school following the departure of coach Bradley Gandy. He will be coaching safeties and assisting the track team.
The middle school girls program will have two new coaches joining the staff in Brenda Hennesey from Rockwall and Ivory Nichols from Palestine Westwood.
Hennesey will be teaching science and coaching middle school girls volleyball, basketball and track. She has several years of coaching experience and Essary said that she came very highly recommended by her former coaches.
Nichols was a softball player at Grambling University and will be at Bel Air in the P.E. Department. She will coach middle school volleyball, basketball and track. She graduated from Palestine Westwood High School.
Essary said with only having to replace six coaches this year, it made the summer easy for him to finish up his staff for the year. He said that he thinks this is one of the best coaching staffs that Athens ISD has ever had.
Posted by : July 21, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
The News Sports Writer
ATHENS–Guy Furr will begin his 15th season at Trinity Valley Community College (TVCC) as the 10th head basketball coach in the school’s history. Furr will replace Kris Baumann who served as coach for four years before leaving to join the staff at UTEP.
In his 14-year tenure (1987-92, 2007-16), Furr served as assistant coach to the three winningest coaches in school history, Leon Spencer, Pat Smith and Baumann.
Furr began his TVCC career on Spencer’s staff in 1987. He left after the 1992 season to return 15 years later on Smith’s staff.
During his first tenure at TVCC, Furr was instrumental in recruiting Nick Van Exel and Shawn Kemp, both of whom went on to play in the NBA.
When Furr left TVCC, he didn’t leave the area. Remaining an Athens resident, he coached and was the head boys basketball coach and principal at Martins Mill High School for five years. He then worked at Kemp High School as an administrator for five years, including one season as interim head boys basketball coach. Furr left Kemp for Murchison ISD, where he was superintendent for five years.
He is also an experienced shooting instructor and has hosted camps for the Shot Doctor in 34 different states.
Furr is a native of Murray, Ky. After playing basketball at Bethel College in Tennessee, he earned his bachelor of science degree from Murray State University and his master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Furr and wife Tina have two children, Alex, a recent graduate of Fresno State University and now a member of the women’s basketball coaching staff at Cameron University, and Preston, a recent graduate of Athens High School and now a student at the college.