Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Friday Night Football Week 8: Irion County vs. Miles

IrionMiles04 I think I'm slowly becoming Miles High School's personal photographer. For Week 8 of the high school football season I traveled out to Mertzon, about 30 miles west of San Angelo, to cover the District 6-1A Division II game between Irion County and Miles High School. This is the third week in a row that I have photographed a game in which Miles was one of the teams competing. Maybe I'll start getting Christmas cards in the mail from Miles parents.

This was, however, my first chance to cover Irion County this season and I immediately noticed something unusual regarding their jerseys. Instead of having their individual names on the back, they all had the word F.A.M.I.L.Y. prominently displayed. It's not unusual for teams to have some kind of unity slogan for the year and most of the time it's represented by a small sticker on the helmet or something written in permanent marker on their socks. But this slogan was fully integrated on their jerseys and the slogan goes, "Forget About Me, I Love You." It's not your typical rough-and-tumble, football-inspired motto, but it works.

IrionMiles03 IrionMiles01 IrionMiles02 IrionMiles05 IrionMiles09The game started out a bit slow. The first score of the game didn't come until late in the first quarter after the Miles defense intercepted the ball deep in Irion County territory. On the first play after the turnover, Miles quarterback Cody Krueger ran the ball into the end zone untouched. Even with putting up the first score of the game, the Miles offensive machine struggled with penalties all night, 12 to be exact for 130 yards. But despite all the negative yards, Miles pulled out the win 21-6.

Another interesting note, The head coach for Irion County, Brett White, was the head coach for Miles last year. Many of the players on the Miles team were coached by him last year and that must have been an odd experience. But Miles put their emotions aside, and came in and notched another win in hopes of a playoff bid.

Christmas cards can be sent to the Standard-Times office.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Friday Night Football Week 7: Miles vs. Eldorado

MilesEldorado05 Rule No. 1 when covering an assignment outside: check the weather. Typically, West Texas weather is pretty predictable, clear skies, warm with a light wind. Friday started out that way as I headed to Miles for a District 6-1A Division II game between the Bulldogs and the Eldorado High School Eagles. It didn't finish that way.

To be honest, I did check the weather before heading out and I knew that we were in store for a cold front to move through and with it a little rain. But from the reports it didn't look like anything was going to happen until 10:00 or 10:30pm, well after the game was going to finish. So, I was wearing my usual athletic shirt, shorts and tennis shoes when I got to the field. I was going through my usual routine of shooting some feature photos before the game started when I hear an alert ring on my cell phone. Apparently, the cold front was going to move through faster than earlier reported. I took a quick look at my weather app and sure enough, a long band of rain was headed our way. My best guess was that it was going to hit us right at game time.

I continued on with my duties keeping an eye on the building clouds to the north. I was over on the Eldorado side of the field getting a few shots of the marching band getting ready for the game when off in the distance I started to hear a noise gaining in intensity. Remember that scene in the first Jurassic Park movie and the stranded tourists are sitting in front of the T-Rex exhibit and they can hear something coming but the only thing they can see are the trees in the background being violently thrashed around? That's exactly what I was seeing, but instead of T-Rex popping out, this low-hanging, gnarly-looking black cloud zipped over head bring with it winds easily reaching 30mph and a temperature drop of at least 20 degrees. I quickly discovered that I was severely under-dressed for this occasion.

MilesEldorado03 MilesEldorado01 MilesEldorado02 MilesEldorado04Obviously, with the new weather condition, which I'm sure no one counted on, the game strategy for both teams was going to change a bit. The initial gust of wind that accompanied the weather front never let up and the team that was going against the wind was going to have a hard time moving the ball up the field. Passing the ball was going to be next to impossible. Punting into the wind? Forget about it. Miles tried punting a few times into the wind and the ball actually started to come back toward the kicker.

Eventually, Mother Nature took it up to the next level and added a little lightning into the mix. And with just under six minutes to go in the second quarter, the game was halted and the stadium evacuated. I have to admit, I wasn't too torn up about leaving the game early for the shelter of my car. I had to turn the heat on full blast for a few minutes so I could get my hands and knee caps to stop shaking.

After getting back to the office I followed the game via tweets from the reporter. After the delay, Miles put up the first score of the game with an 18-yrad run from quarterback Cody Krueger. Miles continued to capitalize with the wind at their backs in the third quarter scoring two more times, one coming from a 33-yard Krueger to Shelton Hohensee pass and a loose ball recovery by defensive lineman Kaleb Carroll in the end zone to make the score 21-0. That's how the game would end because Miles killed most of the time on the clock in the fourth quarter with a long possession. Fortunately, the forecast for this Friday's game looks like it's going to be just about perfect. Perhaps I'll wear long pants this time instead of shorts.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 Friday Night Football Week 6: TLCA vs. Miles

MilesTLCA10 Last week for Week 6 of the high school football season I assigned myself to shoot the game between Texas Leadership Charter Academy and Miles High School here in San Angelo. TLCA is one of three San Angelo schools we cover. They were a private Christian school just five years ago before making the change over to a charter school and open to the public. The school's first two years of competing in University Interscholastic League sanctioned sports was pretty rough. Their football team, who had only ever played six-man ball, was thrown into the 11-man arena. They suffered through their first two seasons with no wins to their name. Now in their fourth season as an 11-man team, they are undefeated, and knocking on the door of a district championship.

So, it would be easy to assume that this game against the 1-4 Miles Bulldogs was simply going to be a formality for TLCA, easily winning and moving on to their bye week in Week 7. Nope. The Bulldogs had other ideas. In their first two district games against Christoval and Menard, TLCA outscored their opponents 101-27. So when TLCA senior spread back Haze Wood fielded a Miles punt on his own 47-yard line and ran it all the way down the field for the first score of the game in the first quarter, things started to take on a familiar tone. However, the Miles defense decided they weren't going to let TLCA run all over them and put up a stiff resistance all night. Eventually, Miles quarterback Shelton Hohensee found receiver Cody Krueger for a 60-yard touchdown and a 7-6 lead at the half.

The rest of the game was a defensive battle on both sides of the ball with TLCA's defense trying to get their offense back on the field and Miles trying to hold on to their slim lead. Finally, in the final minute of the the third quarter, TLCA's Brandon Garcia pounded his way into the end zone from three yards out to give the Eagles a 12-7 lead. There were going to have to be some last minute heroics on the part of Miles to secure the win, but with under two minutes to play, Miles' Hohensee threw up an incomplete pass on fourth down turning the ball over and securing the TLCA win. Miles dropped to 1-5 and TLCA's record remained unblemished.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

2013 Friday Night Football Week 5: Robert Lee vs. Garden City

RLGC14 It was back out to Robert Lee for me for Week 5 of the high school football season as the Steers of Robert Lee played Garden City High School in six-man action. This was going to be a great game. Both teams were coming into the game with just one loss, both to state-ranked teams, so there was going to be a battle on both sides of the ball with both teams touting play-makers, Juan Bustos and Ismael Ramirez for Garden City and Will Howard and Tristen Hildebrand for Robert Lee.

If you've never seen a six-man game, you need to. It's super fast paced and every time you look to the field someone is scoring. That's exactly how the game started. Robert Lee received the ball on the opening kickoff  but was held to a three-and-out turning the ball over on downs. On the very first play from scrimmage for Garden City, junior running back Ismael Ramirez ran the ball 55 yards for the first score of the game and Garden City was up 8-0. The rest of the first half was a trade-off in points, but the game started to take a turn for the worse for Robert Lee when star quarterback Will Howard suffered a mild ankle injury. Howard sat out for a few plays while trainers stretch his injury and re-wrapped his foot before heading back into the game.

RLGC13 RLGC15 RLGC12 RLGC09 RLGC11 RLGC08 RLGC10 With just a few minutes left in the second quarter, Robert Lee found themselves deep in their own territory and Will Howard was forced to scramble up the field on a first down play toward the sideline. Trying to avoid a tackle, Howard came down awkwardly on his already injured ankle and immediately collapsed in front of the Garden City coaches. Right as the play finished the Garden City coaches started calling for the Robert Lee trainers and coaches to tend to their fallen player. Here is a quote from Robert Lee head coach Shay Avants from the game story written by freelance writer Paul Anthony concerning the injury:

     "It was nasty," Avants said of an injury that changed the course of the game and may yet define the Steers' season. "I knew it wasn't going to be good when I got over there... I wasn't thinking football or (of) the season. I was thinking about how much I love that kid and how hard he's worked to get where he is."

The game was put on hold for several minutes while trainers examined Howard before finally bring a cart over so he could be taken over to the ambulance. You could tell he was in excruciating pain and he was trying his hardest not to let his team know how bad it was. Perhaps being an indication that the injury to his ankle wasn't as bad as it initially seemed, Howard  never left the field until the end of the game. But he was going to have to have his ankle X-rayed the following day to see the full extent of the damage.

At the half Robert Lee was only down 24-20, but without their best player on the field and seeing him carted away, the Steers weren't able to get their game back. I had to leave at the half to head back to the office for some editing duties so as I drove home I tuned the radio to coverage of the game. I ended up changing the station halfway through the third quarter because I couldn't listen to any more. Garden City went on a tear scoring 42 unanswered points and ending the game by mercy rule 66-20. It was a tough night for Robert Lee and I can only hope that Howard's injury doesn't affect him or the rest of the team for the remaining game in the season.