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Grapeland chalks up first win

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092922 Jax VickersGroveton defenders try to stop Grapeland's Jax Vickers before he reaches the goal line in last week's non-district finale in Sandie Stadium. Grapeland won 44-26. Photo by Larry Lamb

By Larry Lamb
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GRAPELAND– The Grapeland Sandies tasted their first victory of the season against Groveton, 44-26, in a game that was moved up to Thursday night due to a shortage of officials.

Grapeland only led 16-13 after a quarter and struck for two unanswered touchdowns in the second to pull away 30-13 at the half.

The Sandies (1-3) and Indians (1-3) matched each other's touchdowns in the third quarter. After Groveton made it 36-20 early in the third, the Sandies answered to go up by 16.

The Indians closed the gap to 10 on the first play of the fourth quarter, but Grapeland put the game away with a touchdown and conversion with 5 1/2 minutes left.

The Sandies will kick off their district campaign Friday on the road against top-ranked Timpson (4-0) while Groveton continues its non-district schedule at home with Alto (2-2).

Grapeland received the opening kick and scored on a 2-yard run by Trey Gilmore, who picked up 27 on the previous play. Quarterback

Johnny Lamb ran the conversion for an 8-0 lead with 7:53.

The Indians got on the scoreboard with a 22-yard pass from quarterback Ian Utz to Billy Thomas with 5:14 in the first. The kick was no good.

The Sandies stretched their lead when freshman Maleek Johnson caught a short screen from Lamb and took it 54 yards to pay dirt. Lamb threw to Omarian Wiley on the conversion for a 16-6 lead at the 4:24 mark.

After the kickoff, Groveton completed a 29-yard pass from Utz to Jarett Loftin for a first down at the Sandie 26 and an offside penalty on the next play moved the ball to the 16. Six plays later Groveton scored on fourth-and-goal when Utz hit 5-yard pass to Clifton Davis on the last play of the first quarter. Jackson Cathey tacked on the extra point to make it 16-13.

The Sandies flashed their big-play ability on their next series when Lamb hit Omarian Wiley over the top on a 46-yard strike to the 3-yard line. Johnson scored on the next play for a 22-13 edge with 9:31 left in the half. A two-point conversion failed.

Both offenses had scored on every possession but started to sputter in the second quarter and turned the ball over on downs in the second quarter.

The Indians were stopped short on fourth-and-three at the Sandie 28 but got the ball back on a turnover on downs at the Sandie 41.
Groveton picked up one first down but was unable to convert on fourth-and-long at the Sandie 27 after Grapeland freshman Keavy Bruins broke up two straight passes on third and fourth down.

Taking over on downs with 1:23 left in the half, Will Smith carried for 17 and Lamb threw to Vickers for a 47-yard gain to the Indian 9. Smith took it to the 1-yard line, but two penalties on the Sandies put the ball back at the 13. With :01 on the clock, the Sandies scored on a perfectly executed hook-and-lateral from Lamb to Wiley to Johnson for the TD. Gilmore delivered the two-point conversion for 30-13 lead.

Groveton received the second half kick and drove to the Sandie 29 before a turnover on downs.

The Indians forced a punt and took over at the Sandie 38. On third-and-long, Utz found Wyatt Snead over the middle on a 43-yard TD strike and Cathey nailed the PAT to make it 30-20 at the 7-minute mark in the third.

Grapeland countered with a 62-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 12-yard pass to Vickers. The conversion was no good, leaving the Sandies up 36-20 with 3:15 in the third.

The Indians made it a 10-point game on their next possession after converting on fourth-and-three. Utz connected with Snead for 16 yards and a personal foul penalty on the defense put Groveton at the Sandie 10. Another Utz-to-Snead pass on the first play of the fourth quarter capped the drive to make it 36-26. The conversion was no good.

The Sandies were able to chew up more than six minutes of the clock and stretch their lead.

The nine-play drive was highlighted by Johnson's 19-yard run to the Indian 20. On third down at the 17, Lamb tossed the ball to Vickers, who slipped two tackles on the way to the end zone. Lamb hit Johnson for the conversion, making the score 44-26 with 5:35 left.

After the kickoff Groveton turned the ball over when freshman Sean Walker intercepted a long pass at the Sandie 20.

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GOATBUSTERS - Crockett knocks off unbeaten Groesbeck

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092922 pick sixCrockett's Zandric Anderson (4) returns an interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 1:19 left in the game to give the Bulldogs some breathing room against Groesbeck. Photo by Larry Lamb

By Larry Lamb
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CROCKETT– Crockett and Groesbeck battled down to the final buzzer as the Bulldogs fended off the unbeaten Goats to win 39-34 at Driskell Stadium on Friday night.

"Again, it came down to a handful of pivotal plays in the fourth quarter," said head coach Alton Dixon, referring to a 64-yard quarterback touchdown scramble, a blocked punt that set up a score, a pick-six and a defensive stop on the last play of the game.

The game was tied 7-7 after a quarter but Crockett had nudged in front 14-13 at halftime. Groesbeck took a 21-14 lead in the third and scored again early in the fourth for a 13-point lead.

Four unanswered touchdowns put the Bulldogs in front 39-27 with 1:19 left. The Goats made it 39-34 with :16 left and recovered an onside kick at their 49.

With :01 left after a holding penalty and two incomplete passes, Groesbeck quarterback Trent Platt escaped to the Crockett 30 before being forced out of bounds.

“That was huge. If Groesbeck scores, the game is over and they win,” said Dixon. “This was a tough game. Groesbeck is a really good team with really good players. All week we talked about this being a fourth quarter game. It took every tick on the clock. We had to play to the last second to have an opportunity to win the game,” said Dixon. “What a day, what a night. It was a long day.”

Groesbeck drew first blood on a 1-yard run by Chris Cox. The PAT by Nick Ramos was good for a 7-0 lead at the 7:26 mark.

Crockett's first series got off to shaky start with a fumble recovery by the Goats after a 25-yard pass completion.

Groesbeck took over near midfield but Crockett got the ball back on an interception by Ajani Ellis, who returned it to the Goat 20.

Apenalty against the Goats put Crockett at the 10-yard line and Collins pitched to Tywoin Delane for the touchdown. Kicker Angel Castillo tied the game at 7-7.

Groesbeck mounted another serious threat on its next series but was thwarted by a turnover inside the Crockett 5. Courtney Byrd hammered the ball carrier and forced a fumble that was recovered by Tristan McGraw at the 4-yard line.

Crockett picked up one first down before having to punt from its own 22. With Castillo punting under heavy pressure, the ball went off the side of his foot and the Goats took over at the Crockett 29 as the first quarter ended.

Cox scored to put the Goats in front 13-7 just 10 seconds into the second quarter.

It didn't take the Bulldogs long to respond. Collins connected with Devin Bedford over the middle for a 55-yard TD strike and Castillo provided the go-ahead extra point to make it 14-13 with 11:18 left in the half.

Groesbeck's next series ended with an interception by Simon at the Goat 32.

“The first half was just kind of a shoving match. In the locker room at halftime I told the kids this is like a game of chicken. You can’t blink. Don’t move, stay straight,” said Dixon.

Groesbeck went in front 21-14 midway through the third on a 32-yard pass to Matthew Valentine and conversion run by Cox.

The Goats made it a two-possession game early in the fourth when Cox bolted 32 yards for a 27-14 lead with 10:31 to go.

Collins' 64-yard TD scamper with 8:48 left ignited the Bulldogs' four-touchdown frenzy.

“This was just a kid making something happen. He wasn’t finding anything on the pass so he makes the play with his legs. This was a very pivotal play in that it gave us that boost of energy that we needed,” said Dixon.

On the next series Collins scored from three yards out. A two-point conversion failed and the Bulldogs trailed 27-26 with 2:56 left. Collins started the drive with a 34-yard pass to Simon and later scrambled for 16 on fourth-and-five to keep it going. “This was a crucial first down pickup by Jadyn. I’m so glad he’s on my team,” said Dixon.

A punt on Groesbeck's next series was blocked by Zandric Anderson and Crockett recovered at the Goat 19. The Bulldogs needed just one play to cash in. Collins threw to Corey Simon for a 19-yard TD with 1:32 left. The PAT failed, leaving the Dogs with a 32-27 lead.

"That was an absolute dime from Jadyn to Corey," said Dixon. "Corey was our MTXE offensive player of the game. He started the night with a few drops, things he doesn't normally do.”

After Castillo drilled another kick into the end zone, Groesbeck's first pass was nearly picked off and then Anderson followed up with a clutch pick-six. The PAT made it 39-27 with 1:15 left.

"It was a great play by Zandric, our defensive MVP and special teams MVP. He did an amazing job being locked in, knowing the formation and set and what they like to do in that situation," said Dixon.

Groesbeck closed the gap on its next possession after completing a 44-yard pass to Anthony Lewis, who scored on a 3-yard pass on the next play. The PAT was good, making the score 39-34 with :16 left.

The Goats recovered an onside kick at their own 49 after the ball bounced off a Bulldogs’ pads.

“Groesbeck getting the ball back on the onside kick gave them a flicker of light but our kids never flinched. They came off the field and we talked about what we needed to do defensively. It came down to a handful of plays at the end,” said Dixon.

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Crockett begins district volleyball

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091522 courier volleyballLady Bulldog A'Christa Price serves during Crockett's district volleyball opener against Coldspring on Friday, Sept. 9. Photo by Larry Lamb

Crockett's varsity volleyball team dropped its District 23-3A opener to Coldspring on Friday, Sept. 9 at The Hop. The Lady Trojans prevailed in straight sets 25-10, 25-12, 25-14.

The Lady Bulldogs are new to the district, which includes Coldspring, Onalaska, New Waverly, Cleveland Tarkington, Trinity, Anderson-Shiro and Shepherd, a former class 4A school making its debut in class 3A.

Head coach Marla Hust had to replace four seniors, including two all-district performers, when she took the reins at CHS this year.

Hust's varsity roster for the district opener consisted of Ariana Gonzalez (S/OH), Gisela Gonzalez (DS), A'Christa Price, (OH/S), Keyonna Davis (MB/OH), Anaya Alexander (OH), Julia Tapia (OH/DS), Tania Davis (MB), Jasmine Diaz (OH) and Vicki Medel (OH).

Crockett hosted Onalaska on Tuesday and will play its next three district matches on the road against New Waverly on Sept, 16, Tarkington on Sept. 20 and Trinity on Sept, 23.

The Lady Bulldogs' next home game will be Sept, 27 against Anderson-Shiro.

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Slocum, Franklin win Latexo XC meet

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091522 courier crosscountryLatexo and Lovelady runners leave the starting line in the varsity girls race at the Latexo invitational Sept. 7. Photo by Larry Lamb

By Larry Lamb
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HOUSTON COUNTY — More than 500 cross-country runners representing 26 schools converged on Shartle Ranch for the Latexo Tigers Invitational Meet on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

The varsity girls race drew 106 participants while the varsity boys had 103. Junior varsity girls and boys divisions combined for a total of 113 runners. The junior high meet had 252 boys and girls competing.

Slocum boys and Franklin girls won the varsity team titles for the second straight year.

Franklin's Lady Lions defended their title with five runners placing in the top 10. Franklin was led by Mattie Brown, who posted the winning time of 13:39 on the 2-mile course.

Neches runner Joely Jenkins clocked in second with a time 14:19 to lead her team to the runner-up trophy. Centerville finished third in team standings.

Crockett's Karina Duron came in 15th with a time of 15:14.

Latexo's Maddie Smith placed 31st with a 16:07 to lead the Lady Tigers. Lovelady's Maddie Ray (16:15) of placed 35th and teammate Rylie Seale (16:17) was 37th, Emma Sanders of Latexo (16:19) was 39th and Skylar Reynolds of Lovelady (16:37) was44th.

In the varsity boys meet, Slocum won the title with 67 points, which was 40 points better than Franklin's 107. Centerville was third with 114 points.

Slocum's Caleb Neal paced the Mustangs with a fourth place time of 19:44 and teammate M. Marr was sixth at 20:05.
Trinity's Cade Mauldin clocked in with the winning time of 18:12.

Latexo's Thomas Luce (21.22) placed 19th, Grapeland's Hayden Ray (21:43) came in 25th, Crockett's Victor Gonzales (21:59) was 27th and Latexo's Hunter Goodson (22:12) was 30th. Crockett's Isaya Cruz (22:24) was 34th and Latexo's Jax Bobbitt (23:03) was 44th.

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Iola Bulldogs caught in Lions' lair

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091522 lions vs iolaLovelady's Brandon Fry (19) and Alvaro Gonzales (65) join forces for a quarterback sack against Iola. Photo by Lawanna Monk

By Lawanna Monk

LOVELADY– The Lions Den proved to be a dangerous place for another Lovelady opponent Friday night.
Six first-half touchdowns propelled Lovelady to a 54-14 win over the Iola Bulldogs.

Iola returned Dayvian Skinner's opening kickoff to its 28. After a 15-yard pass on first down, Lovelady's defense dug in. Skinner, Shaun Easterling and Brandon Fry combined for two quarterback sacks to force a punt. Skylar Pipkin fielded the ball and was headed for the end zone, but a penalty on the Lions brought the ball back to the Iola 46.

Lovelady scored eight plays later when Skinner put his head down and powered across the goal line from the 2. Easterling went into the end zone standing up the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with 6:16 on the clock,
The drive started with Easterling handing off to Skinner, who made a quick five yards before dragging a pack of Bulldogs to the Iola 35. After short runs by Jordan Blackmon and Skinner, Blackmon picked up eight to the 22 and Easterling reached the 11. An eight-yard run by Blackmon put the ball on the 3 yard line.

Defensive line pressure by Alvaro Gonzalez, Ben Monk and Fry forced an Iola punt that rolled dead at the Lion 23.

After Blackmon picked up four on first down and two plays later Easterling tossed a short pass over the top to Skinner, who went 73-yards for a touchdown. Jayton Crawford ran the conversion for a 16-0 lead with 4:13 on the clock.

Lovelady's defense continued to stand its ground. Jackson Jefferies stopped Iola at its 39 on the kickoff return and Fry set the Bulldogs for a loss on first down. Another sack by Gonzalez and Fry forced a punt that rolled at the 30.

After a five-yard loss, Easterling hit a gaping hole made by his offensive line and took it to the house on a 75-yard TD scamper. A two-point conversion pass failed, leaving the Lions with a 22-0 lead at the 1:10 mark.

Iola was forced to punt on its next series after Landen LeBlanc shut down a play for a big loss bringing up fourth-and-long. The Lions set up shop at their 36 after a short return by Jayton Crawford. Easterling carried four times for 27 yards and capped the drive from five yards out. Skinner had two carries for 22 yards and Crawford caught a 14-yard pass before being pushed out of bounds at the 5. A two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 28-0 with 7:19 left in the half.

Another defensive stand resulted in an Iola punt to the Lion 36. Blackmon and Easterling carried for short gains to set up a 55-yard TD run by Cortavies Whitaker with 3:35 left. The PAT was no good.

Skinner's kickoff was fumbled by the Bulldogs and Alan Baskin recovered at the Iola 44.

Crawford carried for eight and Pipkin escaped for a 34-yarder that put the Lions inside the 2. Whitaker punched it in on the next play and Skinner tacked on the point-after for a 41-0 lead with 1:04 before halftime.

Crawford returned the second half kick from the goal line to the Lion 39. Lovelady drove down the field entirely on the running of Blackmon, who carried for 4, 9, 20, 4 and a powerful 28-yarder to the Iola 38. Blackmon capped the drive on a 1-yard blast to make it 47-0 with 8:08 in the third quarter.

Both of Iola's touchdowns in the second half were set up by fumble recoveries in Lion territory.

The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard with 4:41 left in the third quarter after a turnover on the Lion 31. Iola threw an end zone pass for the TD but a two-point conversion failed.

After Pipkin returned the kickoff to the Lion 35, Lovelady answered with a time-consuming scoring drive that chewed up the rest of the quarter and carried over to the fourth.

Blackmon gained 12 on first down and Alan Baskin took it the rest of the way. Baskin carried six times for 52 yards and then capped the drive from one yard out. Skinner's extra point made it 54-6 with 11:09 left.

After recovering a fumble at the Lion 32, Iola scored on a 22-yard run and threw for two points that trimmed the gap to 54-14 with 5:41 on the clock.

Troy Shupak and Terrelle Easterling also contributed with great defensive plays that resulted in three-and-series by Iola most of the night.

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