Monday, September 30, 2013

2013 Friday Night Football Week 4: Christoval vs. TLC Academy

ChristovalTLCA01 Week 4 of the season was pretty easy. For starters all of the games we were covering were 40 miles away or less from San Angelo, meaning were were not going to have to send people all over creation. Secondly, the weather was far better than it was the previous week with not a hint of rain in the forecast. We did, however, have some low-lying clouds which made for some beautiful pregame photos.

I was covering the Game of the Week at Lake View Stadium between Christoval High School and Texas Leadership Charter Academy. TLCA has only recently become a team to watch in the Class 1A Division II football scene because they have only participated in UIL sports for a few years. But as their student population grows, so does the talent level of their football team. Friday's game was a district opener for both teams, who were 3-0 on the season thus far. Somebody's perfect season was on the line.

ChristovalTLCA05 ChristovalTLCA04 ChristovalTLCA03 ChristovalTLCA10 Everyone thought the the game was going to be high-scoring for both teams, but the big mystery was going to see which defense was going to be able to hold up. As expected, the two high-octane offenses traded scores back and forth, but it was TLCA's defense that showed up to play. TLCA held a slim 14-13 lead with just over five minutes left to play in the second quarter and then ballooned their lead to 35-19 at the half. With two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the second half and an offense that seemed to be unstoppable, TLCA ran away with the game to the tune of a 61-25 win over the Cougars and go 4-0 for the season. I guess there's a new sheriff in town for District 6-1A Division II.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 Friday Night Football Week 3: Brady vs. Comanche

BradyComanche13 Every football season there is at least one Friday where we have to cover games in the rain. This last Friday was that Friday. It had been raining consistently since Thursday morning and the weather system was widespread covering almost all of our 15-county readership. And it was a slow, soaking rain (just what we need to help with the drought) so any school that didn't have an artificial turf field was going to have a pretty muddy game.

I was originally scheduled to shoot our Game of the Week between Mason and Christoval. But when I came in to work Friday afternoon I received an alert from our website saying that students of the Christoval school district were going to be released early due to flooding concerns. I immediately thought, "If they're letting kids go early because of flooding, will the football team be making the trip down to Mason for the game?" After a quick phone call we had our answer. Game cancelled. We decided to switch our Game of the Week to the Sterling City vs. Robert Lee game. I had already assigned another photographer to cover that game, so here I was with nothing to do on a Football Friday night.

There was no way I was just going to sit around the office like a lump waiting for everyone else to send their photos in. I pulled out our list of local games and decided I would make the hour-long drive down to Brady where the Bulldogs would be hosting Comanche for their homecoming game.

BradyComanche12 BradyComanche04 BradyComanche02 BradyComanche14 BradyComanche07 I remembered from last year's rain game at Central High School that no matter what I did, there was no way I was going to be able to completely protect my camera gear from getting wet. The only thing I could do was hold off the inevitable for as long as I could with trash bags and duct tape. Once I was somewhat confident in my crude present-wrapped lenses and camera bodies I headed to the field.

As expected, the game was going to be a muddy mess. Two days of several inches of rain made Brady's field sloppy. I'm sure the Comanche coaches were wondering how they were going to get their players' uniforms back to resembling white and not be forever stained a light beige.

The game itself was pretty straight forward with both teams having to adjust their offense and defense to the wet and muddy conditions. Brady was on the scoreboard first late in the first quarter but Comanche answered back quickly to pull within one point 7-6. Comanche scored again mid way through the second quarter to take the lead for good at 12-7. This was the score at the half when I had to leave to edit and transmit photos back to the office. I wasn't able to return to the field before time expired in the fourth. But judging from freelance sports writer Mike Lee's story, Comanche's defense performed spectacularly holding Brady to just one first down for the entire second half. Comanche won the game 25-7 handing Brady a depressing loss at their homecoming game.

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2013 Angelo State Football: Rams vs. CSU-Pueblo at AT&T Stadium

ASUfestival06 Sometimes for this job you just have to make sacrifices. Sacrifices that take you way from friends and family, ruin your weekend plans or require you to suffer through long hours on the job standing for hours on end with no bathroom breaks. And then, there are times when the job just rocks. This last weekend was one of those times when something cool comes along and you get to go cover it.

For the second year in a row, the Angelo State University Rams got the chance to play under the lights of AT&T Stadium, formerly known as Cowboys Stadium, at the Lone Star Conference Football Festival.. (I really wish they would have left the name alone. Cowboys Stadium just seems to fit better.) This year they would be playing Colorado State University-Pueblo in the late game on Saturday evening. With a kickoff at 8:00pm it was going to be hard for us to meet the deadline restrictions of the paper, so for the initial story and photos, readers would have to go to the website. It's just one of the things we have to deal with since our paper is printed 90 miles away and driven by truck to the area.

ASUfestival05 ASUfestival01 ASUfestival16 ASUfestival14 ASUfestival13 I came into the game thinking that Angelo State had a reasonable chance of a good showing against CSU-Pueblo, and to some extent they did just that. They could have thrown in the towel when the No. 5-ranked CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves held a 21-3 lead at the half, but they came back out for the second half determined not to be the victims of a blowout.

Early in the third quarter ASU quarterback Kyle Washington rushed for a 78-yard touchdown that brought the Rams within 21-10. The defense held their ground against CSU-Pueblo allowing the Rams another offensive series which ended in a 16-yard pass from Washington to local Wall High School standout Brett Rasberry to get the Rams within 21-17 with 10:38 left to play in the third. Even though quarterback Kyle Washington would end the game with 20 of 34 passing for 173 yards and one touchdown, and rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, clearly making him the Rams' player of the game, the real exciting moment of the game for me came when ASU's junior linebacker Rush Seaver intercepted a pass in the end zone and ran it back 100 yards for an ASU score. I was standing around the 20-yard line on the opposite side of the field and as Seaver sped by I could tell his lungs were stinging for air. After reaching the end zone, instead of celebrating his record-tying Lone Star Conference interception, teammates had to hold him upright so he wouldn't collapse.

But a mark in the win column wasn't meant to be as the Rams fell 45-24. With every loss a team gains valuable experience and information. In the post-game interview head coach Will Wagner said, "I thought the momentum was starting to turn our way." "It was mental mistakes that really hurt us this evening. Our guys have got to understand that this isn't the end of the season and that we can build on this and learn from where we screwed up," he added. "We can do two things: We can hang our heads and feel sorry for ourselves or we can come out Tuesday afternoon and go to work and figure out how to win the game."

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Monday, September 16, 2013

2013 Friday Night Football Week 2: Christoval vs. McCamey

ChristovalMcCamey10 It was another quick night of football last Friday as I headed out to cover the Christoval Cougars taking on the Badgers of McCamey. I had to do some editing duties back at the office for our weekly Blitz! football section so I was only going to shoot the first half. I thought it was going to be a turn-and-burn game, but I was wrong.

Both teams, Christoval and McCamey, are pretty good this year so I was surprised when right from the opening kickoff that so many penalties were being called. It seemed like every second or third play was being flagged by game officials.

Flag. Holding.
Flag. Pass interference.
Flag. False start.
Flag. Your shoes aren't tied properly.
Flag. These stripes are not flattering.

What should have been a fast-paced game between two great teams came almost to a standstill because of all the penalties being called. There was a total of 31 penalties called during the game! Fortunately, I did get to see some good football as Christoval scored first on a 16-yard pass from Jakob Whitworth to Luke Parmer with under three minutes remaining in the first half. Whitworth put up another score with 14 seconds left in the quarter on a quarterback keeper from six yards out to give Christoval a 14-0 lead at the half.

The second half was another defensive battle with both teams scoring just one touchdown a piece. Christoval ended up winning 21-6 to remain perfect on the season at 3-0. I was just thankful to get out of there before the flag-happy refs decided to turn their attention from the field to the sideline and eventually to the stands.

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