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Monday morning quarterback 26 November 2007

Posted by Observer Sports in Analysis, Editorial, Humble, Updates, Westfield.
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We’re down to 32 teams in Texas 5A football and even less at some of the smaller levels, but only one team remains from the Observer coverage area.

I really think it should be two, however; I thought Humble was going to pull out last Friday’s game against Fort Bend Hightower. More than a loss, the missed opportunities will haunt the Wildcats in the offseason. Humble failed to put the game away when it had the chance early, then repeatedly drove into Hightower territory but failed to break off a big play in the second half.

The spot on fourth-and-1 and the false start on third-and-3 are the biggest laments of the fourth quarter, but Humble really gave the game away in the first half. The two touchdowns the Hurricanes scored were both big-play momentum shifters, especially the touchdown pass in the final minute of the half. It looked like Humble would escape the half with a 13-7 lead, but being forced to punt from its own 1 was just too much.

As usual, Humble’s defense – its defensive line, in particular – was fearsome and deserving of the highest respect. I think Humble-Cy Ridge would have been an awesome game, especially given how well Eisenhower played against Cy Ridge. Too bad we won’t see it.

Speaking of defensive lines, Westfield‘s front four was absolutely dominant against Round Rock Stony Point. Yes, the Mustangs gave up 21 points, but time and time again the D-line rose up to stop the Tigers in crucial spots. Stony Point turned the ball over on downs four separate times in the game, mostly because of the efforts of Jonathan Mathis, Christian Ridge, Austin Mayes and Nick Nwoko on the offensive line.

It was the first time I got to see Westfield play all season, and while conditions were not ideal (did I really SEE them play with all the rain coming down?), I could not help but be impressed. Even without throwing a pass in the second half, Westfield’s offense dominated the game, and the O-line came to play. Bo Walker was serviceable running the ball in the first half, but Darryl Ford really exploited the holes that opened up for him in the second half and was deserving of his 194-yard, four-touchdown performance.

Westfield-Plano on Saturday ought to be an absolute classic. Westfield beat Plano East last year in a 31-27 thriller, and we can only hope for more of the same on Saturday.

Kingwood state title reversed 12 November 2007

Posted by Observer Sports in Analysis, Editorial, Kingwood, Kingwood Park, Updates.
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The UIL upheld a Southlake Carroll protest Monday and corrected the scoring of Saturday’s UIL Cross Country Championships 5A girls race, switching the championship from Kingwood to Southlake Carroll.

This is a serious bummer for all concerned on the Kingwood side. I feel awful for head coach Christie Burleson and the girls, who were so elated when I talked to them by phone on Saturday. You almost get the feeling the UIL should have not made a final decision on Saturday and left both teams in limbo. No fun, but it wouldn’t cause so much pain when the decision was made. I don’t know enough about the specifics of the situation to comment, however.

The UIL, and nobody else, saw the videotape of the racers coming to the finish line. Southlake’s fifth runner reportedly placed higher than she was given credit for by the computer scoring system. Given that the UIL reviewed the tape, you have to assume the decision is the correct one, just a painful one for this community.

A second-place state finish is still a great accomplishment for Kingwood, and Burleson was quick to point out that it does not change the girls’ hard work training and racing all season. Even when she talked to me on Saturday, she said:

“At the end of the race, I asked if we ran well for ourselves. The girls competed and couldn’t have done anything more. Whatever happens, we’ll be okay. … We talked about how we thought we did, regardless of the results. They all said they didn’t think they could have done any better.”

 

You can’t ask for anything more than that.

 

In a story with a slightly happier ending, here’s the story from Kingwood Park’s first ever state championship.

What a weekend! 28 October 2007

Posted by Sarah Parker in Analysis, Editorial, Game recaps, Spring, Westfield.
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As a fan of both Spring teams, I needed a weekend like this one. Spring and Westfield both played two fantastic games.

What’s amazing is that although both games were blow-outs – Spring shut out Klein Collins 35-0 and Westfield pummeled Klein 41-17 – our teams played such good football, you never lost interest in the games for a second.

Unless you’re a Klein fan, that is. Saturday, Klein Memorial Stadium was conspicuously lacking in yellow-and-blue apparel by the time the fourth quarter came.

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sad day for me 19 October 2007

Posted by Observer Sports in Editorial.
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I know this isn’t related to local sports, but it is a sad day for me. My high school baseball coach, Brian Fleury, died today from Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 40. I have no words to describe how great of a man he was, so I’m not even going to try. Sorry for the TGIF downer.

I’ll have a preview of Friday night sports a little later today.

So. About last night… 6 October 2007

Posted by Sarah Parker in Analysis, Editorial, Game recaps, Spring, Westfield.
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Do the Lions feel that going 0-2 in 16-5A is insurmountable? I hope not.

This is the scary part: There were times last night where it looked like they felt that way even before they posted that loss. It might be tough to get back on track, but the Lions can do it. To make it easier on everybody, I’m going to open myself up to some serious reader hate and offer my opinion on this matter. Here are a few things I think the Lions need to do to re-capture their success, which was seriously not all that long ago. (more…)

Weekend update 1 October 2007

Posted by Observer Sports in Editorial, Humble, New Caney, Splendora, Spring, Updates, Westfield.
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Okay, so I didn’t quite make my Monday Morning Quarterback goal. Meetings and working toward tomorrow’s Spring production day pushed that back. But we do have Humble and East Montgomery County editions online, with Kingwood and Atascocita up some time on Tuesday.

Here’s what’s going on heading into this week:

Humble – In football, the Wildcats are preparing to take on Channelview after a 20-0 win over Baytown Sterling last week that got Stephen Clarke pumped up.

East Montgomery County – I told you I would get to the bottom of this tuba business. With Splendora preparing to take on Diboll Friday night, I talked with guard Andy Hart about his double life. Check it out.

Never fear, New Caney fans, we have full coverage of the Eagles’ first win of the season, a 41-14 drubbing of Huffman Hargrave last Friday. Nice to see New Caney in a tie for first! We also have a preview of Friday’s road game against Smiley. Finally, we have a New Caney volleyball update.

All-Observer Football Teams? – Joe Musarra contemplated a possible all-Observer football squad in this week’s column – we figure we would have to split it up into separate teams for 5A and for 4A/3A, so we have an update for Humble, Atascocita, Kingwood and Spring, and a separate version for EMC.

Story of the week – We did a pretty big feature this week on the scoreboard crew at Turner Stadium, where students have been filming and producing the graphics that appear on the brand new scoreboard.

Ouch. That hurt. 30 September 2007

Posted by Sarah Parker in Analysis, Editorial, Game recaps, Spring.
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I was soooo looking forward to the Spring-Klein game. On Thursday, it crossed my mind that the game was only a few days away. On Friday, I thought, “The game’s tomorrow!” On Saturday, I was extolling Kenric McNeal’s and Charles Solomon’s virtues to my brother over cheese fries at Saltgrass.

You can’t ever accuse me of not getting into my assignments.

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Humble 21, Baytown Sterling 0 and the Friday night wrap 29 September 2007

Posted by Observer Sports in Analysis, Atascocita, Editorial, Game recaps, Humble, Kingwood, Kingwood Park, New Caney, Splendora, Updates, Westfield.
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_mg_5633.JPGHumble enjoyed a terrific Homecoming night at Turner Stadium today, shutting out Baytown Sterling 21-0 to open District 21-5A play 1-0. Here’s my brief online recap and we’ll have more coverage in the print edition this week.

While the offense moved the ball well at times, and Keith Baker had his best game as a starter, the defense was unquestionably the story of the night. I picked a good night to try my hand at keeping home team tackles, because it helped me focus on some of the defensive standouts. Defensive end Robert Parker had a terrific game and picked up both Wildcat sacks. Safety Thaxton Francis came up early, often and made Sterling feel some pain with big hits and a team-high seven tackles, by my count. Linebacker Justin Weinand also had a big game. Those are by no means the only defensive stars – the whole unit played well, and Stephen Clarke and Brian Womack picked up interceptions.

I talked to Francis and Parker after the game, and their pride in earning a shutout was evident. More than that, I really appreciated how seriously they took their role to set up the offense. I’m sure some defenses take a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy that’s all about the scoreboard. The Wildcats clearly take pride in forcing turnovers and punts to give their offense good field position. That certainly paid off tonight, as the offense had touchdown drives of 52, 60 and 30 yards.

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Humble’s Billy Bell (top right) and Justin Weinand helped the Wildcats to a shutout win. Photos by Joseph Musarra.

Even at Humble’s Homecoming, people I talked to at the game kept a close eye on the Atascocita and Kingwood scores, both of which were disheartening for the district. Beaumont West Brook blew Atascocita away, 44-6, but that was not much of a surprise. Kingwood’s 38-0 loss to Baytown Lee, however, was a surprise. Octavio Torres, last year’s hero, returned at quarterback ahead of transfer Josh Jones and went 13-15 in the first half to lead the Ganders to their best game of the season. In the other District 21-5A opener, Port Arthur Memorial edged Channelview 24-21.

Elsewhere in the Observer coverage area, hats are off to New Caney, which picked up its first win of the year in a 41-14 demolition of Huffman Hargrave on Homecoming at Don Ford Stadium. The Eagles scored twice in the first four minutes and rolled to the first win of the Russell Roberts era. Westfield also rolled, breezing by Tomball 38-0.

In volleyball, Splendora beat Kingwood Park 3-0 in a crucial District 22-3A game, taking sole possession of second place. New Caney beat Huffman to stay on pace for third place in District 21-4A. Atascocita (7-0) and Kingwood (6-1) rolled in District 21-5A play, while Humble blew one of its best chances for a win by falling 3-0 at Port Arthur Memorial.

Spring ISD wrap-up, or, it’s a great time to be a Lion 22 September 2007

Posted by Sarah Parker in Analysis, Editorial, Game recaps, Spring, Westfield.
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I look forward to Spring ISD football all week long. Literally. I annoy the Sports Guys with the love-I think they get pretty tired of it. Even when one of my illustrious colleagues gets blessed (That’s right; I said blessed.) with the assignment to cover the Spring games, I’m usually there anyway.

Which brings me to Spring’s rampage over Humble. It was so. much. fun. watching that game last night. Like Karas told me a week ago, some of the Lions are getting their first taste of being on a winning team. You could tell that was true last night.  (more…)

Who needs good Luck when you have McNeal? 15 September 2007

Posted by Sarah Parker in Analysis, Editorial, Game recaps, Spring.
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Oh, baby, what a game!

See what I did there? Because Kenric’s a junior. Oh, nevermind.

Let me just say that I am so excited about Spring’s massive win over Stratford that I am giddy and almost speechless.

Almost.

You know, I know what this sounds like, but I was THIS CLOSE to picking Spring over Stratford in my predictions. I mean, that week, I ranked them within the top ten of my HCN Football 5A poll, and seriously, intensely considered picking them over Stratford.

I’m so not trying to say “I told you so” because in the end, I didn’t pick Spring. But I wanted to come on here and let everyone know how close I was to picking my team over the favored Stratford. (more…)