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Area teams post historic
performances in ’08

By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–For the high school sports fan, 2008 was certainly a banner year – with the promise of better things to come.
Some teams who hadn’t made the playoffs in many years did so during 2008, including the Eustace Bulldog baseball team (for the first time since 1989), the Eustace football team (for the first time since 1997) and the Kemp Yellowjacket football team (for the first time since 1997).
It was a year of expected changes stemming from February’s biennial UIL realignments, as Mabank was bumped back up to Class 4A after spending two years in 3A, and Eustace remained in 3A. Both Mabank (984 students) and Eustace (432) were “on the bubble” in terms of enrollment, and it turned out Mabank was four students over the 4A cutoff and Eustace two students over the 3A cutoff.
January
Eustace High School boys and girls soccer teams opened their first varsity seasons. The boys played a junior varsity schedule in 2007, but the girls were playing their first matches.
In the first of two one-point decisions, the hosting Kemp Yellowjackets defeated the Eustace Bulldogs 55-54 in the District 13-3A basketball opener for both teams.
The Eustace Lady Bulldogs defeated the visiting Ferris Lady Yellowjackets 45-31 to collect their first district basketball victory.
Canton’s girls and Kaufman’s boys took the top spots in the annual Mabank powerlifting meet.
In their second-round opener in Eustace, the Kemp boys nipped the Eustace boys again by one point, 47-46, while the Mabank boys secured a home-and-home split with Kaufman by winning 50-47.
February
Mabank officials got the news they were expecting, as the biennial UIL realignment bumped MHS back up into Class 4A and into a new District 15-4A with Forney, Lancaster, West Mesquite, Red Oak, Mesquite Poteet and Terrell.
Both Kemp and Eustace stayed together in a new District 14-3A, along with Canton, Van, Wills Point and Mineola.
Despite staying in 3A, Eustace head coach and athletic director Doug Wendel noted the new district was much more equal in terms of enrollments, as only one school, Wills Point, had a significant enrollment advantage.
Mabank’s girls secured the District 13-3A third-place berth, but lost to District 14-3A runner-up Athens in the bidistrict round of the playoffs.
Out of the six boys basketball teams in the district, four of them – Mabank, Kaufman, Ferris and Crandall – wound up tied for first, each forging home-and-home splits with the others during the two rounds of district play.
A mini-tournament at Ellis Davis Field House in Dallas determined the playoff seedings.
Kaufman nipped Mabank, 66-63, to win the tournament and the first-place berth, with the Panthers taking the second-place playoff berth.
Ferris stopped Crandall, 49-47, to take the district’s third-place playoff berth.
Mabank went on to defeat Brownsboro, 56-48, in the bidistrict round, advancing to meet 10th-ranked Pittsburg.
In an area championship match in Tyler, Pittsburg used an 18-7 run across the middle of the second half to break open a close game, and went on to knock the Panthers out of the playoffs with an 82-65 victory.
Mabank junior guard Chelsey Dillon was named the district’s co-Defensive Player of the Year, while sophomore wing Chelsea Alldredge was picked as the Newcomer of the Year.
Team leaders at both Kemp (Sarah Smith) and Eustace (Cassie Freeman) were named to the all-district first team by district basketball coaches.
Eustace’s girls and Kaufman’s boys won team titles at the District 13-3A powerlifting meet in Crandall.
Eustace’s boys and girls both finished second at the annual Bulldog Relays track meet, with Royse City winning the boys division and Rusk winning the girls division.
Mabank junior Kolton Browning, who had been named the District 13-3A football MVP after the close of the 2007 season, was again picked as the 07-08 basketball MVP by loop coaches.
Panther senior guard Albin Gashi was named the district’s Newcomer of the Year, while Eustace’s David Graves and Kemp’s Chase Traughber were both named to the all-district first team.
March
A combination of bad weather and TAKS testing led to most of the area’s high school sports contests to be cancelled the first full week of March.
The annual Kaufman Relays were held, despite frigid temperatures and a few flakes of snow. Eustace junior Cameron Coffey showed the hurdling form that made him the man to beat at the district meet.
Kemp Independent School District trustees, administrators and players formally dedicated the school’s new $500,000-plus baseball/softball complex, located next to Yellowjacket Stadium.
Members of the 2007 district champion baseball team were on hand to join in the baseball field’s dedication.
Eustace’s boys track team won the Tesei Relays at Ferris with just eight members participating, as Coffey posted dual hurdles wins for the second straight meet.
Kemp’s Yellowjackets knocked off the Eustace Bulldogs, 9-2, in the district opener for both teams at Kemp’s new baseball/softball complex.
Eustace’s girls hung on to nip the visiting Kemp Lady Yellowjackets, 15-14, in a key district softball contest at Eustace, while Mabank’s boys kept themselves alive in the district baseball playoff race by nipping the visiting Crandall Pirates, 3-2.
April
Brandon Carrico’s RBI single to deep right center in the top of the sixth proved to be the game-winner, as Mabank edged hosting Kemp 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel, with Kemp’s Nick Sallings and Mabank’s Chancz Sullivan combining to strike out 25 of the 50 batters they faced.
Mabank’s girls and boys golf teams both won district championships and advanced to the regional golf tournament.
The hosting Eustace girls won the district track meet team title, while the Bulldog boys finished second, behind Kaufman.
Kemp’s win over Mabank, Kaufman’s win over Crandall and Eustace’s win over Eustace in the final district baseball contests meant that Kemp, Kaufman and Eustace all tied for first, forcing a playoff at Mabank High School.
Eustace swept both Kaufman and Kemp to secure the first-place playoff berth and the baseball team’s first post-season appearance since 1989.
Mabank’s girls golf team, headed by Macey Thomas’ rounds of 88 and 95, took second place at regional to advance to the state golf tournament for the first time in school history. They finished eighth overall in their first appearance at the state golf tournament.
Van, the runner-up in District 14-3A, knocked Mabank out of the softball playoffs with a two-game sweep at Canton High School’s new baseball/softball complex.
At the Region II track meet in Commerce, two hurdlers – Kemp sophomore Sharda Bettis and Eustace junior Cameron Coffey – qualified for the state track meet, with Bettis winning the 100 meter hurdles and finishing second in the 300, while Coffey finished second in the 300 and third in the 110.
Bettis finished fourth and Coffey finished sixth at the state track meet two weeks later.
May
Kemp swept Brownsboro’s Bears in a best-of-three bidistrict baseball playoff, advancing to the area round to face Texarkana Pleasant Grove for the second straight year.
Both Kemp and Eustace are knocked out of the baseball playoffs in the area round, as Pleasant Grove sweeps Kemp and Pittsburg sweeps Eustace.
Mabank names Kelsie Reynolds, Davis Kiker and Brandon Carrico as its Athletes of the Year during the school’s annual all-sports banquet.
Both Kiker and Carrico starred on the Panther football and baseball teams, and Carrico also was a top powerlifter.
Reynolds was considered the best setter in East Texas by opposing volleyball coaches, and was the quarterback of the Mabank teams that posted a 20-0 district record over the school’s two years of 3A competition. She also starred on the girls basketball team.
Seniors Sarah Smith and Nick Lane were named the top Kemp High School athletes at the annual spring sports banquet.
Smith was the school’s only first-team all-district selection in both basketball and softball, while Lane qualified for regional competition in both powerlifting and track.
Eustace High School names seniors Lucas Cope, Rebekah Walter and Caty DiBari as the male and female Athletes of the Year at the school’s annual all-sports banquet, held for the first time at the Cain Center in Athens.
Cope, who played at least three different positions in addition to pitching, was the district’s baseball MVP, while freshman teammate Braden Strickland was the Newcomer of the Year.
Kemp senior shortstop Matt Carr was the co-Offensive Player of the Year, while teammate Mikie Scruggs, who pitched and played catcher, was the district’s Utility Player of the Year.
June
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine projected tough years for all five Cedar Creek Lake schools. As it turned out, Mabank finished one field goal away from the playoffs, while Eustace and Kemp both made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
Incoming Mabank senior Kolton Browning, who was both the football and basketball MVP as a junior, verbally committed to attending the University of Louisiana at Monroe to study business.
August
Football and volleyball teams around the area began practices, with football players braving some of the hottest weather of the summer.
As the season got underway, Mabank volleyball coach Stacy Shelton was working with an all-new team, having graduated 12 of her 14 players from last year, while veteran Eustace coach Chuck Powers was looking for his young girls to jell.
At Kemp, the fact that volleyball coach Peggy Swierc was around for a second year began paying dividends early.
In the football season openers, Mabank came from behind to edge Kaufman, 42-39, while an error-prone Kemp squad got blown out by Brownsboro, 44-14.
Eustace fell to hosting Grace Community in a Thursday night shoot-out, 36-28 – both Mabank and Kemp contests Friday night were interrupted by lightning.
September
Mabank’s Panthers fell to hosting Athens, 21-14, while Kemp fell to 0-2 with their second straight home loss to Parish Episcopal.
Eustace held on a last-minute two-point conversion to record their first win on the road against Dallas Life Oak Cliff, 21-20.
In a matchup of former district foes, the Mabank Lady Panthers nipped the visiting Eustace Lady Bulldogs 3-2. The narrow win was Mabank’s final non-district match before beginning District 15-4A volleyball play.
For the third straight game, mistakes proved to be fatal for the Kemp Yellowjackets, as they gave up three first-quarter touchdowns to the hosting Mabank Panthers, who ended up winning their homecoming contest 47-6.
In a game that featured two “Built Ford Tough” players of the week – Edgewood quarterback Weston Jamison and Eustace fullback Shawn Baldwin – visiting Edgewood put across a winning two-point conversion and then blocked a last-second Eustace field goal to win a wild 44-42 shoot-out.
Baldwin, a junior, attended his mother’s funeral that afternoon, but got to the stadium as the teams were warming up and posted one of the best games any Eustace player has ever had, scoring five touchdowns while rushing for 226 yards on 35 carries.
Mabank’s Lady Panthers won their District 15-4A opener with a 3-0 blanking of visiting Lancaster.
Eustace’s Bulldogs opened a lead against Quitman, and held off the visiting Bulldogs to win their homecoming contest 41-32.
Kemp’s Yellowjackets posted a turnaround performance against Rains, coming from behind to score with 39 seconds to play and recording their first win of the season, 24-20.
In what was later noted as the season’s turnaround play, junior quarterback Jeremy Quick hit senior receiver James Trim for a 32-yard gain on fourth-and-22 with the game clock running out and no time outs left.
The ’Jackets followed that up with a 63-27 blasting of hosting Palmer in a game that wasn’t that close, as Kemp had a 42-7 lead at halftime.
Eustace fell to hosting Ferris, 30-14, as the Bulldogs suffered a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown to blow open a close game.
Kemp and Eustace girls opened District 14-3A volleyball play, with Kemp falling on the road at Mineola and Eustace knocking off visiting Wills Point.
In one of the closest matches of the season, the visiting Wills Point Lady Tigers squeaked past the scrappy Kemp Lady ’Jackets 3-1.
Wills Point nipped Kemp, 33-31, in the deciding fourth game, a marathon contest that had fans on both sides of the Kemp gym on their feet and left players on both teams exhausted.
October
Mabank beat the visiting Terrell Tigers 35-21 in the District 15-4A football opener for both teams, but the story of the game was the bench-clearing brawl that ended the contest with 7:48 to play.
After both school districts conducted investigations, the district executive committee agreed to support the two schools’ actions, and issued a private reprimand.
Mabank suspended two players for one game, while Terrell suspended seven players for one game.
In the District 14-3A football openers, eventual district champion Van played keep-away from the visiting Kemp ’Jackets, winning 40-7, while the Eustace Bulldogs fumbled the ball three times – including twice in the fourth quarter – and lost 7-6 at Mineola.
At Red Oak, the Mabank Panthers missed a game-winning field goal in the waning seconds, and the Hawks made them pay in overtime, winning 32-26.
In retrospect, the Panthers wound up just that one field goal away from making the playoffs.
Returning home, the Panthers dominated the error-prone Mesquite Poteet Pirates, winning 32-7.
Kemp bounced back from the Van loss to dominate the hosting Wills Point Tigers, blocking three punts en route to a 33-20 win in a game that wasn’t that close.
Eustace also bounced back to take a key district victory, knocking off the visiting Canton Eagles 35-26.
The Eustace girls continued to roll through the district, knocking off the Wills Point girls on the road, and were rewarded with their first top-20 state ranking.
In a key district matchup, the visiting Bulldogs pulled away late from the Kemp ’Jackets, 37-15, in a game that was a lot closer than the score indicated.
Mabank fell to 4-4 on the season and 2-2 in district play with a 49-35 shoot-out loss to the hosting Forney Jackrabbits.
The Lady Bulldogs clinched a playoff berth (and the district championship) with a win over visiting Van, the only team to beat them in the first round.
November
Mabank’s young Lady Panthers, who took the district’s fourth-place playoff berth with a 5-7 record, were knocked out of the state volleyball playoffs in the bidistrict round by Waco Midway at Corsicana High School.
West Mesquite’s Wranglers branded the Mabank Panthers with a 52-28 hot iron in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Panthers finished 4-6 on the season and 2-4 in district play.
With a playoff berth on the line, Kemp defeated the visiting Canton Eagles 34-21, grabbing a post-season berth for the first time in 11 years.
In a game that didn’t have anything at stake – both teams already had secured playoff berths – the Van Vandals completed an unbeaten district slate with a 41-0 blanking of the Eustace Bulldogs in the final game to be played at Van Memorial Stadium.
It was an expensive loss for the Bulldogs, as star fullback Shawn Baldwin suffered a season-ending knee injury on the third play of the game.
Eustace’s Lady Bulldogs knocked off New Boston, 3-1, in the area round of the playoffs, but fell to Princeton, 3-1, in the regional quarterfinals, ending Eustace’s season at 29-10.
Three new girls basketball coaches opened their tenures at area schools – Cody Christenberry at Mabank, DaLinda Cassell at Eustace and Kent Smith at Kemp.
Playing with a howling north wind, the Kemp Yellowjackets and Eustace Bulldogs each played bidistrict championship games about 25 miles apart in Richardson and Carrollton.
Kemp held off a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the defending state (2A) champion Farmersville Farmers to take a 24-21 victory, while Eustace fell just short in an expected shoot-out to the Nevada Community Braves, 60-48.
The Bulldogs and the Braves combined for almost 900 yards of offense, but neither team suffered a turnover, despite the bone-chilling wind.
As expected, four-year Eustace starter Cassie Freeman was named the district’s volleyball MVP, with senior teammate Nicole McNeel named the Setter of the Year and Lady Bulldog sophomore Allison Cass named the district’s co-Newcomer of the Year.
The Yellowjackets lost one half of their one-two running attack to injury early, and had no answer for Pleasant Grove’s speed, as the Hawks took a 37-13 win in an area football championship game at Marshall. The ’Jackets finished their season at 6-6.
Running back/linebacker Josh Carr, arguably the ’Jackets’ most valuable player on both sides of the ball, was named the district’s co-Offensive Player of the Year, while teammate Korey Henderson was named the district’s Return Specialist of the Year.
Mabank’s Kolton Browning wasn’t the District 15-4A football MVP again, but he was the Offensive Player of the Year.
Eustace teen Trevor Lane collected a rare 20-point buck in Comanche County Nov. 28.
December
Mabank’s Panther basketball team finished third in the 10th annual Cedar Creek Lake Shoot-Out tournament, knocking off Dallas Roosevelt to claim the trophy.
The Lady Bulldogs won the consolation trophy at their own Roundball Roundup tournament, marking the first trophy the EHS girls had collected in several years.
Mabank’s Lady Panthers finished second at the fourth annual Scurry-Rosser Wildcat Booster Club Holiday Tournament, falling to hosting S-R 64-59 in overtime.

 

Upcoming games

Girls Basketball

Jan. 6
MHS @ Terrell*

Jan. 9
MHS vs Red Oak*
KHS @ Van*
EHS @ Mineola*

Jan. 12
MHS @ Mesquite Poteet*

Jan. 13
KHS @ Wills Point*
EHS vs Canton*

Jan 16
MHS vs Forney*
KHS vs EHS*

Jan. 20
MHS @ Lancaster*
KHS @ Mineola*
EHS vs Wills Point*
*district contest

Boys Basketball

Jan. 2
KHS vs LaPoynor
EHS @ Frost

Jan. 6
MHS vs Terrell*
KHS @ P.Westwood
EHS vs Cross Roads

Jan. 9
MHS @ Red Oak*
EHS @ Brownsboro

Jan. 12
MHS vs Mesquite Poteet*

Jan. 16
MHS vs Forney*
KHS vs EHS*

Jan. 20
MHS vs Lancaster*
KHS @ Mineola*
EHS vs Wills Point*
*district contest
 

Soccer

Jan. 2
MHS g @ Greenville
EHS b/g vs Ferris

Jan. 6
MHS g vs Ennis
EHS b/g @ Kaufman

Jan. 8-10
MHS b/g @ Eustace tourn.
EHS hosts tournament

Jan. 13
MHS g @ Ennis
MHS b vs Corsicana
EHS b/g vs Palestine

Jan. 15-17
EHS b @ Kennedale tourn.

Jan. 16
MHS b @ Ferris
MHS g vs Mt. Pleasant


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