Sports and Outdoors


Eustace Girls Stop Kemp
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE-Eustace's Lady Bulldogs kept the visiting Kemp Lady Yellowjackets winless in district play with a 3-0 victory Friday.
Now 22-8 on the season and 5-2 in District 13-3A volleyball play, the Lady Bulldogs were scheduled to host Crandall in a key match Tuesday.
Kemp fell to 8-16 on the season and 0-7 in district play, and were scheduled to visit Kaufman Tuesday.
Friday, Oct. 20, Eustace is scheduled to host Mabank, while Kemp will host Crandall in a homecoming contest.
Next Tuesday, Oct. 24, both teams will wrap up regular-season play, as Eustace will visit Ferris and Kemp will host Mabank.
Each evening opens with 4:30 p.m. sub-varsity matches.
At Eustace Friday, the hosting Lady Bulldogs took the match 25-6, 25-14 and 25-16.
"Good team effort," veteran Eustace coach Chuck Powers said afterward. "We stayed focused, and the bench players did a good job, as well."
Alyson Harlan led the Lady Bulldog effort, notching 12 serving aces in addition to 13 kills, four blocks and three digs.
Traci Garrett added eight kills, one block and three digs, while Cassie Freeman added seven kills and one block.
Jessica Parker racked up 25 assists, along with two kills and one dig, while Cati DiBari had two kills and one dig, and Ashley Houston had one dig.
Kayla Stacks added two digs, Camille Rogers had one kill and one block, Rebeckah Walter had two kills and one block, Cayce Hampton had four digs and Vanessa Maltos had one dig.
Julie Gorka led the Lady 'Jacket scoring notching three kills, while Keleigh Collinsworth served up three aces.
Ashley Zellmer had an ace, one dig and three assists, while Jamie Hunter had one dig and four assists.
Sabrina Trammell had one kill and four digs, while Paige Moore had one dig.


Lady Panthers Continue March, Knock Off Kaufman
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK-Mabank's Lady Panthers continued their march through the second round of District 13-3A Friday, as they shut down the visiting Kaufman Lady Lions 3-0.
Now 24-4 on the season and 7-0 in district volleyball play, the Lady Panthers (ranked 14th in the Oct. 16 Texas Girls Coaches Association poll) were scheduled to host Ferris Tuesday.
Friday, Oct. 20, the Lady Panthers will visit Eustace for a second-round contest, and next Tuesday, Oct. 24, Mabank's girls will wind up the regular season on the road at Kemp.
Each evening opens with 4:30 p.m. sub-varsity matches.
Against Kaufman, the Lady Panthers again didn't drop a game, winning 25-14, 25-11 and 25-18.
"We came out and played two great games against Kaufman, and then let up on the third game," Mabank head coach Stacy Shelton said. "We were down 12-6 and had to step up our play to beat them."
The Lady Panthers lost starting left-side hitter Hali Schultz in the second and third games of the match after Schultz developed a shoulder problem, Shelton said.
"My right-side attacker, Bridgette Tanner, took her place as the left-side hitter, and did a great job," Shelton said. "Bridgette is my utility player - she can play any position on the court."
Shelton said the Lady Panthers continue to allow other teams to rally, and that worries her going into the playoffs.
"We have to put teams away when we have them down," she said. "It's too close to playoff time, and I am a little worried if we do that in the playoffs, it will come back to bite us.
"Our girls need to understand the importance of not letting teams back into matches," she added. "Volleyball is a very mental sport, and if you let teams with talent gain any kind of confidence, they will come back to beat you."
Once again, the Lady Panthers ruled the net, as five players combined for 32 kills and nine blocks against the Lady Lions.
Miranda Groom led the attack and had a strong all-around game, notching 12 kills, one block, seven digs, one serving ace and four saves.
Tanner wound up with nine kills, one block, three digs and one ace, while Schultz had one kill, one dig and one save before leaving the match.
Both Kelly Hitzfeld and Shadia Rueb notched five kills each, as Hitzfeld had three blocks and one save, while Rueb had four blocks, one save and one assist.
Setter Kelsi Reynolds had 24 assists, three saves, one dig and one ace, while Leslie Amyx had five digs.
Pheng Leav had seven digs, while Macy Thomas added a kill and an assist.
Mabank's junior varsity girls lost to Kaufman, while the freshman Lady Panthers won. Both teams are now 5-2 in district play.


Bulldogs Looking to Rebound
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE-Eustace's Bulldogs have to rebound from a tough last-minute loss to the Kemp Yellowjackets and get ready for a strong Mabank Panther team this Friday night.
Now 1-5 on the season and 0-1 in District 13-3A play, the Bulldogs will be hosting a 2-4 Panther team that lost to the Kaufman Lions, 27-2, in last week's district opener.
Both teams still have a shot at the playoffs, even with a district loss. A second loss, however, will make getting a playoff berth difficult.
For Eustace coach Brad Scoggin, the task will be trying to get the Bulldogs to refocus on Mabank after the Bulldogs battled back and had a shot at winning during last Friday night's 33-27 loss to Kemp, despite falling behind 27-0 in the first half.
"I really feel for our kids," Scoggin said. "They really deserved to win it. After we scored to make it 33-21, I told our defense to get the ball back for us two more times, and we would win it.
"The defense made two huge stops on second down and third down, and we were in a position to win," he said. "The crowd was in it, the band was in it - it was hard to hear, down on the field."
Kemp secured the win when Bret Kennedy intercepted a Mike Cook pass - the game's only turnover - enabling the 'Jackets to run out the final seconds.
"They fought hard, and it was a good, clean game," Scoggin said.
Eustace again fell behind, just as they had against Edgewood and Quitman, and were forced to battle uphill most of the contest, but began to get momentum late in the first half, which carried over to the second half.
Mabank had much the same outing, falling behind Kaufman 20-0 in the first quarter last Friday.
The Panthers will bring a spread offense into Friday's contest, centering around a huge offensive line and a quick, strong running back in senior Chris Recio, Scoggin said.
"What they do, they do really well," Scoggin said. "Their spread is a little different than what they used to run. They've adjusted it to their personnel, which is what we all do."
Recio has shown strength and quickness all season, Scoggin said.
"He's tough to bring down, and he's strong. He's very consistent, not flashy, but keeps pounding at you," Scoggin said.
The key for the Bulldogs, defensively, will be to try and take away the run, forcing the Panthers to win by throwing the ball.
Mabank, like Eustace, graduated most of their skill players, and inexperience at the skill positions in key game situations has been a difficulty for them.
On offense, the Bulldogs have to protect the ball, and not give the Panthers a short field, Scoggin said.
"They're big up front, so trying to control the line of scrimmage will be a key for us," he said.
"We played a pretty mistake-free ballgame (against Kemp), and that's what we have to do again," he added. "We've got to swarm on defense, because Recio is going to be hard to tackle. We've got to get folks around him, and wrap up."

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Kemp's Michael Scruggs (20) upends Eustace Bulldog running back Michael Jones (3) during the first half of Kemp's 33-27 win over Eustace Oct. 13.


Kemp Faces Crandall for Homecoming
Monitor Staff Reports
KEMP-Kemp had reasons to smile after winning their first game against Eustace, 33-27, last Friday night in the District 13-3A opener for both clubs.
However, Kemp coach Walt Mangan said a look at the game film removed most of his smile.
"We still made a lot of mistakes. I really didn't think we played that good a game, overall," Mangan said. "That's the good news - we got out of there with a win.
"We're still looking for some consistency," he added. "We will have to play well this week to win."
Now 1-5 on the season and 1-0 in district play, the 'Jackets host the 2-4 and 1-0 Crandall Pirates for homecoming Friday night.
Last week, the Pirates destroyed the youthful Ferris Yellowjackets, 62-7, blocking four punts and recovering two of them in the end zone for touchdowns.
Actually, Zach Ragsdale did most of the damage, scoring seven touchdowns, including the aforementioned blocked punts.
"(Ragsdale) was so open, he blocked the punt, and recovered for the score, not three minutes apart in the game," Mangan said. "Crandall had a lot of short fields - that was the difference in the game."
Kemp looked unstoppable in the first half against Eustace, rolling up a 27-0 lead, but saw the Bulldogs come back and nearly steal the game in the second half.
"They never quit. They came at us all night long," Mangan said. "In the second half, Eustace turned up their intensity, and we're still missing the same blocks, and too many times, we were in the wrong places on defense."
A couple of plays turned the tide of momentum in the game - the first one in favor of Kemp, when Leif Skierski converted a third-and-18 situation with a 20-yard scamper.
The second - turning the tide back to Eustace - came late in the half, when the 'Jackets failed to make a stop, and Eustace went on to score right before halftime.
One big plus for the 'Jackets was they had no turnovers.
"That was huge for us," Mangan said. "We need to take care of the football (against Crandall), because they're not going to give it to us very many times."
A power running team, the Pirates return last year's backfield intact, including first-team All-District quarterback Kolton Kvapil (who came close to being the district's MVP), Ragsdale and Antuan Aaron.
"Kvapil makes it happen," Mangan said. "They're going to be a challenge for us to stop.
"They're going to be a lot like Van, except they have a lot bigger threat at quarterback. He can throw and run," Mangan added.
The 'Jackets may be going into Friday's game without a major component, Nick Sallings, the starting safety and a very consistent punter.
Sallings fell on his shoulder late in the game against Eustace, and it's questionable whether he'll be able to play or not, Mangan said.
Sallings' absence would be most keenly felt at strong safety, because whoever rotates in will have to be somebody who's also playing on the offense, he noted.
Against Eustace, the late substitute was Bret Kennedy, who came up with the game-winning stop by intercepting Bulldog quarterback Michael Cook.
Kennedy was a "hunch" substitute, based on his performance in last summer's seven-on-seven competition, Mangan said.
"(Kennedy) hadn't played defense all night, and hasn't played corner all year," he added. "Sure enough, he came up with the big play."
Friday's game is Homecoming, a once-in-four-years event, which will bring more than its share of distractions. Mangan, however, said he believed the 'Jackets will be able to focus on the game.
Whether they can maintain that focus for an entire game is the big question, Mangan admitted.
"We've got to keep the ball out of their hands. If their offense is on the field a lot, we're going to be in trouble," he said. "We're going to have to find a way to do something we haven't done all year - play four quarters."


Panthers to Visit Bulldogs Friday
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK-Special teams errors, mental mistakes and the poor play seen in last week's 27-2 loss to Kaufman will have to be corrected by Friday night, when the Mabank Panthers visit the Eustace Bulldogs.
Now 2-4 on the season and 0-1 in District 13-3A play, the Panthers still control their own destiny, but will have to ratchet up the effort against the 1-5 Bulldogs, who also lost their season opener to Kemp last week, Mabank head coach Jimmy Cantrell said.
"Special teams has to play better," Cantrell said. "Our punt team gave up 14 points. It's kind of hard to dig yourself out of a hole like that."
Cantrell said he told the Panthers his biggest fear going into the Kaufman game was coming out flat after a bye week, and that's exactly what happened.
"I learned my lesson on how to approach a bye week," he said. "You just can't spot people 20 points, especially against a good football team.
"We had our chances," Cantrell added. "You've got to give Kaufman credit. Their defense is pretty good. Couple that with mental mistakes on our part ... they made fewer mistakes. There's no excuses - we just got beat."
The Panthers still control their own destiny, and can make the playoffs if they win out. Another loss, however, means they'll probably need some help to qualify as the big-school representative.
Cantrell noted they can't afford mental mistakes and turnovers against the Bulldogs, who spotted Kemp 27 points and nearly came back to win a wild 33-27 contest last week.
"Anytime you've got a quarterback like they've got (senior Michael Cook), those possibilities are there," Cantrell said. "He can throw it anywhere."
The Bulldogs' offensive line is playing well, giving Cook time and opening holes for senior running back Michael Jones.
When Eustace needs a play, senior Jordan Nixon has been the go-to guy in the passing game, Cantrell said.
Mabank will go into Friday's contest missing a couple of starters, as both junior quarterback T.J. Lindsay and junior noseguard J.R. Hudson are questionable after suffering concussions against Kaufman.
Sophomore Kolton Browning stepped in at quarterback late in the second half against Kaufman and hit 9-of-16 pass attempts for 81 yards, but suffered one interception.
"I think Kolton will do just fine if he has to play," Cantrell said.
The key for the Panthers will be getting the ball into their playmakers' hands - and that means Chris Recio (22 carries, 139 yards) and Mark Groom, who has come up with big play after big play all season.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Mabank Panther junior receiver Norman Brady sees a pass slip off his hands during Mabank's 27-2 loss to Kaufman Oct. 13.


Upcoming Games
Cross Country
Oct. 23
District 13-3A meet
(Cedar Creek CC)

Oct. 20
KHS vs Crandall* (HC)

Oct. 27
MHS vs Ferris*
KHS @ Kaufman*
EHS @ Crandall*

Nov. 3
MHS @ Crandall*
KHS vs Ferris*
EHS vs Kaufman*

Nov. 10
EHS @ Ferris*
(end regular season)

*district game

Oct. 20
MHS @ Eustace*
KHS vs Crandall*

Oct. 24
MHS @ Kemp*
EHS @ Ferris"
(end regular season)

*district match