Tuesday, November 22, 2011

H.S. Football Playoffs Week 2: Central vs. Arlington Martin

CHSvsMHS03Well, all good things must come to an end, as they say, and for the Central High School Bobcats, the 2011 football season came to a close Friday night at the hands of the Warriors of Arlington Martin. Right at the beginning, Central knew they had their hands full with the blitzing attack of the Martin defense and the running game of Martin's Kyle Hicks. Central quarterback Logan Sawyer was sacked nine times as the Warriors rolled to a 43-12 win advancing to the next round. It just seemed that Central was outmatched in every possible way. CHSvsMHS04 CHSvsMHS05 Not that there weren't moments of brilliance, because there were, but there were few. Take for instance the passing touchdowns to Rileigh Davis, No. 4 in the photos above. I managed to catch this kid on both ends of the emotional meter. On the high side after catching two touchdown passes at the end of the second quarter to get the Bobcats out of their slump and on the board, finally, and in the game. And then I caught him on the down side, trying his hardest to conceal the tears flowing as the seconds ticked off the game clock ending his high school football career.
But, the Central season this year was a fun ride for a change. We've had to cover losing seasons so much lately it was easy to root for these guys and the coaches. With the loss of 31 seniors, including the entire offensive line, I hope they will be able to put together another winning season next year. It sure was fun. We have a few area teams that are still in the playoffs, but I'm taking the Thanksgiving week off to see friends and family. Hopefully there will still be a few teams left in the fourth round. I put up a gallery of images from the game HERE if interested.CHSvsMhs01 CHSvsMhs02

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

H.S. Football Playoffs Week 1 (Part 3): Central vs. El Paso Coronado

CHSvsCHS01 After a two-game night in Blackwell on Friday, the following day reporter and videographer extraordinaire, Jennifer Rios, and I traveled to Midland's Grande Communications Stadium to cover the Central Bobcats' game against El Paso Coronado. Let me tell you, this was a slug-fest. And it all started a week before when the team Central was supposed to face, El Paso El Dorado, was being suspended by the Texas University Interscholastic League, the governing body of high school athletics in the state, after reporting they had an ineligible player on the roster. El Dorado filed an appeal with the UIL and it was uncertain who the Bobcats were going to play in the first round of the playoffs the week leading up to the game. Eventually the UIL up held the suspension and required El Dorado to forfeit the two games the ineligible player played in causing them to lose their place in the playoffs. That in turn boosted Coronado into the playoff game with Central. Whew! What a mess. CHSvsCHS05 CHSvsCHS03 So now that we knew who Central would be playing, everyone had the attitude that Central would clean house with no problems and advance to the area round playoff game against Arlington Martin the next week. I mean, come on, they were playing a team that didn't even have a record good enough to get them into the playoffs in the first place, right? Well, someone forgot to tell Coronado that this game was just a formality and that they should just curl up in the fetal position and let Central run all over them. Coronado came out swinging. Their defense played superbly, all but shuting down Central's running attack, and they could move the ball on the ground and through the air, for the most part, with ease. I was actually surprised that they were trailing 7-3 when the game entered the fourth quarter. This is when the real fun started. CHSvsCHS02 With about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Central sideline and stands all exhaled a sigh of relief when Central quarterback Logan Sawyer, the same infamous Logan Sawyer who ruined my Gatorade dunking shot of Coach Davis the week before, ran in a touchdown followed up by a point after attempt to put Central up 14-3. Now they have some breathing room.
The Bobcats kickoff to Coronado who, during their possession of the ball, ate up the clock and managed to kick a field goal to make the score 14-6. Then they kick and recover an onside kick. They move the ball 48 yards to throw a touchdown pass with 2:45 to play in the game. Coronado then lines up for a two-point conversion. The Central players on the bench were wringing their hands together with anticipation. I even heard one of them say, "We can't lose to this team. They're not even supposed to be here."
The ball is hiked, the play rolls left, the ball is thrown, the pass is incomplete. You've never heard such a roar of relief as the Central fans let out after that pass was dropped. Nobody wanted to see this thing go into overtime. Coronado again tried the onside kick, but they recovered the ball before it had traveled the mandatory 10 yards. On the next play, Logan Sawyer ( I'm still shaking an angry fist) runs the ball 49 yards for another touchdown to make the score 21-12 in Central's favor. That's how the game would end. If you would like to read the game story Paul Harris wrote you can go HERE. I have also posted a gallery of the game HERE.
Next up for the Central Bobcats is, of course, Arlington Martin who beat Central last year in the area playoff game in San Angelo. Central will have to travel to the DFW area this year for the game since Martin came to San Angelo last year. Its going to be a rematch of sorts, though Martin is the big favorite. After this Friday's game I'm taking a break from work to go see a good friend in Nashville and to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family in DFW. I hope that when I get back in a week that we still have teams in the hunt for a championship. CHSvsCHS04

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

H.S. Football Playoffs Week 1 (Part 2): Paint Rock vs. Loraine

PaintLoraine02 Game number two of Friday night was between the Paint Rock Indians and the Bulldogs of Loraine. Due to the delay to the start of the first game between Sterling City and Panther Creek, I was still editing and transmitting photos from that game when the second match up of the night started. Again I knew nothing of these to particular teams and had to ask the sports writers in the office what they thought the outcome of the match up might be. They agreed that the two teams were fairly similar, but giving an edge to Loraine. They also said that the game would most likely go all the way through the end of the fourth quarter.
It was an okay game, good scoring drives, strong defensive stands, but there just seemed to be something missing from the game. I'm not sure what it was. And I probably wouldn't be able to tell what it was anyway, since I have not shot a six-man game since the state championships from last year. Actually, it was probably that there wasn't enough noise being made to sound like a football game. You know, the band, cheerleaders, the roar of the crowd as the teams march up and down the field with the ball. I like six-man football, but there's just something that 11-man football that bring a little more excitement for me. Noise.
Of the teams that are still in the playoff picture as far as the Standard-Times in concerned, I believe we will be covering six-man teams farther in the playoff than our remaining 11-man teams, even though we do have some great 11-man teams left in the picture. I guess that's the cool thing about covering so many counties out here in West Texas. Our playoff runs can go pretty deep in just about every sport. And the towns that follow their home teams absolutely love the fact that we travel and report on the games. Plus, its nice to get out on the road and see the countryside a little.PaintLoraine01

H.S. Football Playoffs Week 1 (Part 1): Sterling City vs. Panther Creek

SterlingvsPC01 Last Friday was the first week of the 2011 high school football playoff season for me and I was assigned to head out to the tiny town of Blackwell about 50 miles north of San Angelo to shoot a double header. The first game between Sterling City and Panther Creek was supposed to start at 5:30pm and everyone I talked to in the office that knew anything about the two teams said Sterling City was going to mercy rule Panther Creek.
If you've never seen a six-man football game you're in for a treat, but only if the teams are competitive. The game is fast paced and high scoring. The score at the end of the game could easily be in the 50s and 60s on both sides. But, if one team is more dominant than the other and is ahead by 45-points or more at the half or at any point during the second half, the game is over. It also makes for a fairly boring game.
However, because I had another game to shoot at 8:00pm, I was looking forward to having the extra time to edit and send photos back to the office if in fact Sterling City was able to mercy rule Panther Creek. The game started on time, but just three plays into the game, the game clock decided it didn't want to run. Play was halted for about five minutes while officials worked on it, but to avail. They were going to have to reset the entire scoreboard. Unfortunately, the only way to reset the scoreboard was turn off power to the entire stadium. Stadium lights are not like the lights you can just flip on and off in your home. They turn off immediately when you cut the power, but they don't just flip on right away when the power is restored. They need time to recharge in order to be bright enough to play under.
So, 30 minutes later the game was back on and I'm hoping and praying the game ends at the half so I've got time to edit and and transmit photos. Sterling City must have heard my prayers because they did what everybody said they would. They ended the game at the half with a score of 59-12. Thanks guys. SterlingvsPC02

Friday, November 11, 2011

They Walk Among Us...

Veterans01 They walk among us, but they are not part of us.

Though they disguise themselves effectively, blending in with the everyday population in the roles of grandparents, aunts and uncles, childhood friends, lovers and strangers on the street, if you look closely, you will find them out.

You will see their true colors of green, blue and brown. Some may even wear a ribbon of purple. Some, those who have seen the worst this life has to offer, may even wear the color red which stains their aging hands and hearts.
Veterans06 Veterans03 They walk among us, but they are not part of us.

They are set apart by their service, some asked and some volunteered. They are set apart by the blood, sweat, and tears they have shed. They are set apart by their life experience, some good, some bad, but all proud.

A passing of the torch of brotherhood is continuing to take place as the older generation gives way to the younger. They share a bond that we ordinary citizens may not, or can not understand. That bond was formed in the face of adversity in the trenches of France, in the skies over Germany, floating the deep blue waters of the Pacific, in the jungles of southeast Asia, the deserts of the Middle East and atop the mountains of Afghanistan.

Whatever patch or medal they have worn, whatever hymn or cry they have sung, they all bear the badge of duty, honor and courage. And that is how we will know them, those who belong to this sacred club, those who proudly wear the badge of a United States Veteran.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Playoff Volleyball: Water Valley vs. Miles

RegionVolley01 So here's a nice change of pace... playoff volleyball! I've been so wrapped up in football lately that I completely forgot that volleyball was happening. And we have some great tams in our area. Water Valley, Miles, Grape Creek, Sonora, Bronte... all good teams.
I was dispatched to Angelo State last night to shoot the regional quarterfinal between the Water Valley Lady Wildcats and the Miles Lady Bulldogs at the Junell Center. I think probably my favorite thing about shooting volleyball is the reaction of the players after every point. It's like the entire game hinges on that one point and its make or break time if you can or can't score the next one. I have to admit volleyball is not my strongest sport to shoot. I struggle to find the ball most of the time so I tend to focus on a single player or an area of the court and just wait for the ball to show up. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure which sport I'm most comfortable covering.
RegionVolley03 Last night's game was pretty fun and each set was close except for one. Water Valley came from behind to win the first set 25-23 and Miles won the second set 25-22. Its always a joy to shoot a well played game. You know, one team is usually better than the other, and you basically know who is going to win the game halfway through the contest resulting in the lesser skilled team basically giving up. These two teams were not like that. They battled until the very end.
Water Valley got the better of Miles in the third set, winning 25-14. Like I said, there was only one set that wasn't close. Water Valley took control of that set pretty early and you could start to see the disappointment creeping onto the faces of the Miles players. But they pulled it together and gave us a great show for the fourth set. The score was neck and neck for the entire set, but Water Valley eventually prevailed 25-22, earning a spot in the regional tournament. I think this will be my only volleyball match of the week. I have three playoff football games this week, two in Blackwell this Friday and of course Central's game on Saturday in Midland. More to come...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday Night Football Week 10: Central vs. Amarillo Tascosa

CHSvTHS04 As I wrote on the previous post, I took Thursday off to drive up to Lubbock to knock off some of the driving time between San Angelo and Amarillo to cover the Central High School football game against Amarillo Tascosa. I thought I was going to be visiting my parents, but they decided to head up to New Hampshire for a long weekend so my step-dad could do some work and mom could hang out with some friends. However, I did get to hang out with the dog/house sitters, a very cool husband and wife team, for the evening. We built a fire outside and watched Netflix.
Friday morning I got up around 9:00, checked the weather, and started the two hour drive to Amarillo. I had forgotten just flat this part of the world is. A lot of memories started flooding back as I drove past my former high school in New Deal. After so many years its amazing how almost nothing has changed. There are few added details here and there, but for the most part the building and the football field still looks the same.
I guess you can probably surmise what the outcome of the game was just by viewing the photograph above. Yes, after 40+ years, Central High School has won a district championship. It was an exciting time for all. The game started off really fast with Central scoring two touchdowns right away in the first quarter with the Amarillo Tascosa defense not putting up much of a fight. I thought this game was going to over in no time, but as it progressed, the game started to stall.
CHSvTHS06 CHSvTHS01 Central jumped out to a 21-0 lead early, but with at the start of the fourth quarter, Tascosa was only trailing by a touchdown 21-14. Fortunately, Central's defense stepped up and held Tascosa scoreless for the rest of the game. Central would go on to win by a score of 37-14 and claim the District 2-5A title in the process. Central finished the regular season 8-2, 5-0 in district play and won the district title outright, something Central has not done since 1963. Central has not had a regular season record like this since 1991. Needless to say everyone was pretty excited about the whole thing. But there was one weird thing about the game though. There were no students there to enjoy the victory. Sure the band, cheerleaders and drill team were there, but there was no one from the general student population there to cheer on the Bobcats. It probably had something to with the fact that the game was played at 4:00pm and the school administration nor the parents were not going to let any of the students miss a day of school to go to the game. Besides, they still have next week's first round playoff game in Midland. The game is on a Saturday at noon so I'm sure everyone will be there. CHSvTHS03 I've been a photographer of high school football games professionally for almost eight years now and the one shot that keeps escaping me is the ritualistic dumping of the Gatorade on the head coach. Tonight was going to be the night I would get that shot. I was never more ready to get that shot than I was tonight. I was informed of the Gatorade dumping before hand by another shooter on the sideline who said the players were going to douse head coach Brent Davis with about 20 seconds left in the game. Perfect! I know when its going to happen. So I started to snake my way through the gathering players to set myself up to be in prime position for the moment. I even had players making room for me next to Coach Davis so I could catch the moment. Awesome! The players are co-opporating with me.
24, 23, 22, 21, 20... I start firing off a long burst of frames to try and catch every millisecond of the moment, but just as the icy concoction begins to pour down the back of Coach Davis' shirt, Logan Sawyer, the Bobcats' starting quarterback comes barreling through the crowd and wedging himself between me and Coach Davis. His shoulder pads slam into my right arm causing me to lose grip on the camera. The photo above is the last frame of the sequence before the camera shot out of my hands. Thank goodness the camera strap was dangling over my arm because I was just able to grab it before the camera body went smashing to the ground.
Dang it! I was in perfect position! I still like the photo even if the main subject (Coach Davis) is a little soft. Perhaps if they win their bi-district playoff game next Saturday against El Paso Eldorado I'll get another chance at the pot-o-gold. I did enjoy shooting all the happy faces and the post-game celebration. Central deserves this win and the district title. Its been a long time coming. If you would like to read Paul Harris' game story you can find it HERE. If you would like see a few more photos from the game you can go HERE

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Angelo State vs. Texas Tech in Exhibition Game

ASUvTTU03 Other than Angelo State graduations and the annual San Angelo Independent School District convocations, I don't think the Junell Center has ever been filled with this many spectators than it was tonight. The Lady Raiders of Texas Tech University traveled to San Angelo for an exhibition basketball game with the Rambelles. This is just the second exhibition game between the two schools since ASU joined the Texas Tech University system back in 2007.
Its easy to guess who the winner of this game was considering Tech is a Division I school and ASU is Division II, but its great fun for all. Plus, its good experience for Angelo State to see where their weaknesses are. The game was also a good indicator of where my basketball shooting skills are for the year. This was the first basketball game I've shot this season and I know that I've got a lot more to come. This whole year has been devoid of sports assignments for me since my coworker found out she was pregnant. Due to doctor recommendations, she has been running the office on the Tuesday-Saturday shift while I have been working the Monday-Friday morning shift. Since most sporting events are scheduled for the evenings and weekends I've done very little in the way of sporting assignments.
But I have a feeling that all of that is about to change since little Lala Luna is about to enter the world. I will more than likely be switching to the Tuesday-Saturday shift which will increase my opportunity to shoot some sporting events. Playoff football and regular season basketball are on the horizon!

ASUvTTU02 ASUvTTU01 Alas, as expected, the Rambelles lost the game 81-45. No big deal, it was just an exhibition game with no real consequences on their season. I'm actually pretty excited about the upcoming season as head coach Sally Brooks says this is probably the best team she's had in quite awhile. She says their really smart players, able to pick up on new schemes and plays quickly and can shoot the lights out. I've posted a gallery of extra photos on the Standard-Times website HERE if you would like to see more and you can go HERE if you would like to read the game story by Mike Whitson.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Merril Jessop: Another FLDS Trial

Jessop04 Well, I thought I was going to be done with all of this FLDS stuff, but here I am sitting in front of the Coke County Court House in Robert Lee photographing more people walking in and out of a building. And on my birthday no less! This particular trial involves Merril Jessop, the former bishop of the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado that was raided back in April 2008. He is facing one count of performing a ceremony prohibited by law, a third degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine.
The jury selection started yesterday (Monday) at around 9:30am and didn't conclude until after 5:00pm. There was one striking difference between the trials held in Schleicher and Tom Green counties and this one in Coke County: the potential jurors were much friendlier here in Robert Lee. They had no problem sitting around and talking with you. And it didn't have to be anything about the eminent trial, I think they just wanted to talk to some one to kill time while waiting around in line outside the courthouse.

Jessop02 It was also very odd to see any emotion coming from a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), but Jessop was cordial and friendly to just about every one he met. Typically when you see an FLDS member in public they are very reserved and quiet, avoiding any eye contact, especially at a court proceeding concerning anyone from their religious sect. At previous trials, and there have been numerous lasting for days, when a FLDS member was asked a question from a member of the media that question was responded with complete silence.
Jessop is not like that at all. He actually initiates the conversation however short it may be, probably because his lawyer doesn't want him to say to much to anyone, but at least he is not this stoic and unapproachable figure. As he walks to and from the courthouse he'll wave to people, talk with other members of the FLDS and even greet members of the general public with things like, "How are you today?" or "Pretty day today isn't it?" As I was taking photos of him this afternoon he even addressed me and the TV  photographer standing next to me saying, "Make it look good, men." Weird. Here's a LINK to yesterday's story by our resident FLDS reporter, Matthew Waller.

Jessop01 Jessop03