Cierra Simon (right) of Crockett helped the East Texas Nemesis 10-C select softball team capture the 2014 USFA World Series Championship in Panama City Beach, Fla. last week. Cierra, age 10, played shortstop for the Nemesis, who went undefeated en route to the championship. Cierra was a member of the Diamond Divas in the Crockett Merchants Girls Softball Association and was picked up by the Grapeland Impact for the district tournament, in which they finished first. She is the daughter of Amanda Spencer and Corey Simon, both of Crockett.
Lovelady gridmen will continue four rivalries and face one "new" opponent in their five pre-district games this fall..
As they have the past two seasons, the Lions will continue their series with Colmesneil, New Waverly, Grapeland and Leon.
Timpson is new on Lovelady's non-district schedule, but the Lions scrimmaged the Bears several years back.
Two former non-district opponents-- Hull-Daisetta and West Hardin-- are now in Lovelady's district.
Before kicking off the season, the Lions will scrimmage at Trinity on Saturday, Aug. 16 and host Buffalo on Thursday, Aug. 21.
Week 1 - Aug. 29 Colmesneil Bulldogs Home Lovelady and Colmesneil have been district rivals at various times over the years but played in non-district the past two years. The Lions dominated the 2012 matchup 44-14 and Colmesneil won last year's meeting 30-22.
With a new head coach at the helm, Colmesneil is favored to win District 12-2A and make a return trip to the state playoffs. The Bulldogs' new district includes Normangee, Iola, Evadale, Burkeville and Sabine Pass.
New head coach Edd Trotter, former Diboll head baseball coach and assistant football coach, inherits a squad that has six returning starters on both sides of the ball.
The Bulldogs were hard hit by graduation, but they hope moving down to Division II in Class 2A will give them a boost. Colmesneil previously competed in Class 1A Division I (now 2A DI).
Several key players from last year's 10-2 area finalist are back in the lineup.
Linebacker Zach Bryan is the district's Preseason Defensive MVP after logging 158 tackles. Wide receiver Kaleb Lindsey earned District Newcomer of the Year honors with 186 yards on nine catches. Defensively, Lindsey picked off five passes. Lineman Chris Thedford was an all-district choice on both sides of the ball.
Week 2 - Sept. 5 New Waverly Bulldogs Away
This long-running non-district rivalry resulted in split decisions the past two years. The Lions won 23-7 last year after losing to the Bulldogs 23-7 in 2012.
New Waverly's new head coach James Lane will try to lead the Bulldogs back to the playoffs after posting a 1-9 record during a 2013 season marred back injuries and close losses. Lane brings winning tradition to New Waverly after helping Cisco win three state titles.
Athlete Chaz Jackson is one of the top returning performers on both sides of the ball and linebacker Broch Saxton will lead the defensive charge.
New Waverly competes in District 12-3A DII, which includes Franklin, Lexington, Trinity, Jewett Leon, Buffalo and Hearne.
Week 3 - Sept. 12 Grapeland Sandies Away
Since this fierce cross-county rivalry resumed in 2006, the Lions won the first six but the Sandies have prevailed the last two years.
Grapeland edged the Lions 24-22 in 2012 and last year the Sandies scored a go-ahead touchdown and two-point conversion midway in the fourth quarter to win 35-28.
Grapeland will be competing in District 11-2A DI with Alto, Cayuga Price Carlisle, Kerens and Malakoff Cross Roads.
The Sandies are in a rebuilding phase with only five returning starters both ways from a team that posted a 2-8 record.
Although picked to finish last in their tough district, the Sandies hope to fool the experts utilizing the abundant speed of Jaquez Faulk, Rodney Davis and Riley Chipman on both sides of the ball. Kamari Smith (6-1, 190, 4.7) provides an added threat with his combination of size and speed.
Week 4 - Sept. 19 Leon Cougars Home
Leon moves back up to Class 3A (formerly 2A) after competing in Class 1A the past two seasons.
The Cougars are picked to claim the fourth place playoff spot in District 12-3A DII behind Franklin, Lexington and Trinity, Buffalo, Hearne and New Waverly round out the district.
Leon posted a record of 5-5 overall and 0-4 in district last year, but should be stronger this season with seven starters back on offense and eight on defense.
Senior Peyton Archibald, who played quarterback for three years, will move to fullback. He rushed for 723 yards and score nine touchdowns last year.
The Cougars also return several defensive standouts, including first team all-district cornerback Riley Noey and two linebackers.
Week 5 - Sept. 26 Timpson Bears Away
Timpson is picked to finish fourth in District 11-2A DII, which includes state semifinalist Tenaha, area finalist Maud, Mount Enterprise, Overton and Fruitvale.
After getting off to a 4-1 start last year, the Bears won just one more game the rest of the season to finish 5-5. With seven returning starters both ways, however, Timpson should have enough talent to make some noise and return to the playoffs after a two-year absence.
Offensive standouts include two returning all-district wide receivers.
Three of Crockett's five non-district opponents for 2014 are new on the schedule, but they are all familiar gridiron rivals from previous seasons.
Rusk and Madisonville. who've been on the Bulldogs' schedule for several years, will be joined by Alto, Diboll and Shepherd.
Crockett competed in the same district with Diboll for a number of years and previously played Shepherd in non-district. The Bulldogs have scrimmaged against Alto the past two years.
Four teams on the schedule are larger classification schools (Class 4A DII) than Crockett (Class 3A, DII). Alto is in Class 2A, DI.
Before officially starting their 2014 campaign, the Dogs will scrimmage two former district rivals-- Elkhart on Aug. 15 and Westwood on Aug. 21.
Here's a quick look at Crockett's non-district foes:
Week 1 – Aug. 29 Alto - Home The Yellow Jackets are picked to win District 11-2A DI, which includes Cayuga, Price Carlisle, Kerens, Malakoff Cross Roads and Grapeland.
Alto reached the third round of the Class A, DI (now 2A DI) playoffs last season with a 9-4 record and is ranked No. 19 in Texas Football's preseason poll.
The Yellow Jackets return six starters on both sides of the ball from a regional semifinalist team that finished with a record of 4-1 and 9-4 overall.
Linebacker Tyarius Hackett (85 tackles and 11 sacks) is the District Preseason Defensive MVP. Alto must find a replacement quarterback, but Hackett and several other returning defensive standouts should keep the Jackets in games until the offense is settled, says Texas Football. Running back Jyran Shaw logged 600 yards and seven rushing touchdowns last year, and lineman Luis Alvarado, who had 72 knockdowns, are "solid building blocks on the offensive side," the magazine says.
Week 2 – Sept. 5 Rusk - Away Coming off a 2-8 season, the Eagles are looking to turn their program around with seven returning starters on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, the Eagles' attack will feature two running backs with over 500 yards last year and another with over 300 yards.
Rusk is picked by Texas Football to finish last in a tough district that includes the 2013 3A DII state finalist Fairfield, Waco Connally, Lorena, Mexia and Groesbeck.
Crockett and Rusk were district foes for many years and continued their rivalry four years ago when the Bulldogs dropped in classification.
Since their non-district series began, the Bulldogs have won three of the four meetings. Crockett prevailed 22-14 in 2013, 32-29 in 2011 and 54-6 in 2010. Rusk won the 2012 meeting 35-13.
Week 3 – Sept. 12 Diboll - Home The Bulldogs renew an old rivalry with the Lumberjacks that ran from 2004 until 2007.
Diboll recorded 1-10 record last year, but one district win was enough for the Lumberjacks to slip into the playoffs.
The Jacks are picked to finish fifth in District 8-4A DII, which includes Coldspring, Shepherd, Madisonville, Cleveland and Huntington.
New head coach Blake Morrison, former defensive coordinator at Coldspring, will build the Lumberjacks' multiple wing offense around five returning starters. Only four returning starters are back on the defensive side.
Week 4 – Sept. 19 Madisonville - Away The Mustangs are looking for a return trip to the state playoffs, but have only four starters back on offense and three on defense from a team that posted a record of 5-6 overall and 1-3 in district.
Longtime Mustang head coach Greg Morgan expects an improved passing game from quarterback Jaylen Smith, who gained valuable experience starting seven games as a sophomore. Smith threw for 688 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
Week 5 – Sept. 26 Open Date With four games under their belts, the Bulldogs will take a breather before their non-district finale.
Week 6– Oct. 3 Shepherd – Home The Pirates come to town on the Bulldogs' homecoming night to renew a non-district rivalry after a six-year hiatus.
Crockett and Shepherd last squared off in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and the Dogs dominated both games 64-0 and 46-0.
Shepherd's program has been on an upswing in recent years, and the Pirates are forecast to make their first playoff appearance since 1999. By the way, Shepherd's post-season run ended that season with a 47-0 rout at the hands of the Crockett Bulldogs in the first round.
The Pirates, who compete in the same district with Madisonville and Diboll, are picked to finish second behind No. 6 Coldspring.
Shepherd will benefit from a more experienced squad after posting a record of 6-4 overall and 2-4 in district last season with only two returning starters on offense.
The Pirates are building this year's team around eight returning starters on offense and six on defense.
Regional Medalists—Houston County Lady Panthers track team captured a number of medals in the TAAF regional meet Saturday, July 12 and qualified for state competition in six events. Pictured are (left to right) Deja Payne, Shabess Johnson, Garlanisha Gilbert, Kevonna Johnson, Kristen Clinton, Rosalind McCoy, Jocelyn McCoy and Jakara Jackson. Not pictured is Jada Lockhart.
The Houston County Panthers girls track team brought home a collection of medals from the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF) Region 6 Meet and qualified for the upcoming Games of Texas in six events.
Regional competition was held Saturday, July 12 in Tatum.
First, second and third place regional finishers earn a spot in the state meet slated July 31 through Aug. 3 in College Station.
The 4x100-meter relay team of Rosalind McCoy, Jocelyn McCoy, Jakara Jackson and Kristen Clinton blazed to victory in the 18-under division with a time of 51.1 seconds.
Rosalind McCoy, competing in the 18-under division, qualified for state in two events with second place finishes in the 100-meter dash (12.7 seconds) and 200-meter (26.24).
In field competition, Shabess Johnson took first in 14-and-under discus with a distance of 66'4".
Garlanisha Gilbert, competing in the 14-and-under division, will advance to state in the 400-meter dash with a third-place time of 1:06.6 at regional. Gilbert also placed fourth in the 200-meter at 26.64.
Jada Lockhart is also headed to state in the 14-under division with a third place finish in the 100-meter with a time of 13.07.
Team member Deja Payne also competed at regional in the 16-under division and placed fourth in both the 100 (13.28) and 200-meter.
Competing in the 14-under division, Kevonna Johnson finished seventh in the 100-meter at 18.28 seconds.
Crockett gridmen start summer workouts on Aug. 4 riding momentum from an impressive showing in the Texas 7-on-7 Division II Championships held Thursday, July 10 and Friday, July 11 in College Station.
On Thursday the Bulldogs won Pool F with a 2-1 record. After handling Argyle 26-22, Crockett fell to Sealy 20-18 but bounced back with a 40-27 win over Dublin to advance to the championship bracket.
In their first game Friday, the Bulldogs edged Booker 26-24, but were ousted from the single-elimination championship bracket with a 40-34 loss to Prestonwood Christian Academy of Plano. Prestonwood progressed to the championship game before falling to defending state champion Graham, 47-45.
This was Crockett's fifth trip to state in school history and its deepest run in the championship bracket.
Bulldogs competing in the state tournament were: Latreveounce Bell, Lucky Daniels, Tyler Dowell, Dee Epps, Rasheed Epps, Von Evans, Don Gilbert, Vunterrius Leonard, Michael Hall, Chamar Wiley-Harris, Brandon Martinez,Ozzy Ory, AJ Phillips, Case Robinson, Latariyon Tryon, Jordan Washington and A.D. Watkins. Casey Robinson coached the squad.
Houston County Panthers displaying their regional medals are (left to right) Damien Richardson, Rkelian Wiley, Ricktavius Lomax, Jordan Washington, Jamarquis Burton and Nicholas Harris.
Qualify For Games of Texas In August
For the second year in a row, the Houston County Panthers No. 1 Team dominated the track during the TAAF Region 6 Meet on Saturday, July 12 in Tatum.
The 4x100-meter team of Ricktavius Lomax, Jamarquis Burton, Rkelian Wiley and Nicholas Harris ran to a first place finish with a time of 42 seconds.
Lomax destroyed the competition in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.75 placing him in first.
Damien Richardson finished second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.3 seconds just ahead of Burton, who posted a third place time of 11.37.
Burton also had a first place finish in the 400-meter with a time of 55.86 and Richardson placed third in that event with a time of 59 seconds.
Jordan Washington, competing for the third straight year, added two more gold medals to his trophy case bringing his total to five. Washington ran a 14.55 in the 100-meter hurdles and a 40.18 in the 200-meter hurdles.
The team next will compete in the TAAF (Texas Amateur Athletic Federation) Games of Texas in Bryan-College Station on Aug. 2-3 vying for a spot in nationals next summer in Lincoln, Neb.
All the Panthers have to do is finish first through third in their events at the state meet to punch their ticket to Nebraska.