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Opportunity lost

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The team runs onto the field for the second half. Photo by Donnie GokeyThe team runs onto the field for the second half. Photo by Donnie Gokey

By Brian Besch
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It was close on so many occasions and there for the taking. Yet, Livingston football made the long trip back from Little Cypress-Mauriceville without the win Friday, falling 18-13.

Defense and missed opportunities on the offensive end were the stories of the night, especially for Livingston. Little Cypress-Mauriceville went into the half with a 12-0 lead on a 59-yard touchdown pass, and a four-play drive from good field position at the Lion 41.

Livingston (1-1, 1-6) missed the chance to put points on the board in the first half after fumbling on the LC-M 7-yard line. Later, driving down the field in less than two minutes, they would complete a pass to the Bear 5-yard line as time ran out for the band break.

After forcing a turnover on downs on the first drive of the second half, the Lion offense marched seven plays and 73 yards in just over four minutes. The drive was capped by a Copeland Bush run from his fullback position, cutting the lead to 12-7.

“Physical, we played fast, and we blew our chances in the first half – where we left 18 points on the field minimum. We knew they had some very simple flaws in their defense that we were going to try to take advantage of,” Livingston coach Finis Vanover said. “We held them to 12 points at halftime, and with that talent and those weapons and the big offensive line, (it was an accomplishment).

“We had to figure them out on defense. Their defensive front was winning the battles about 70% of the time on us in the first half. We knew we had to simplify it, and we moved the tight end out a little bit to make them change, and we started hitting it and gashing them and running like we have been doing. Some of the long runs we had were pass plays that were called and they were bailing out trying to help cover. Money (Lion quarterback Damorian Hill) finally found the switch and got to running a little bit.”

Little Cypress-Mauriceville (4-3, 2-0) would answer five plays later, as Bear signal caller Dylan Payne tossed another touchdown strike, this time 21 yards, extending the advantage out to 18-7.

On their final possession, Livingston drove 91 yards in just seven plays. Trenden Williams (17-120, TD) broke loose for 42 yards, outrunning the defense to the end zone. A two-point conversion was not successful, and the Bears clung to an 18-13 advantage.

On the final drive of the game, Livingston backed Little Cypress up to a third-and-17, where Payne again delivered. A 20-yard completion down the sideline gave the team a first down. Two plays later on second-and-19, a swing pass to tailback Jonah Fuller converted another long down and distance to seal it.

“They hit a couple of huge plays on our nemesis – the third-and-17 and third-and-27 and fourth-and-10 and second-and-19,” Vanover said. “We gave up too many big plays and made too many of our own that didn’t count and were called back. The effort was total and complete, and we never stopped. At three minutes left, we have a chance to win, five points down and playing for undefeated. We didn’t make it and they did.”

Perhaps lost in the game was the play of the Lion defense. They held Little Cypress-Mauriceville to 150 total yards at the half and 280 for the game. A few long down-and-distance conversions marred what was otherwise their best performance of the year.

Missed opportunities for the offense limited the team to just 13 points when more was available. The fumble near the goal line, as well as seven turnovers on downs will bring regret during film sessions. Williams eclipsed the century mark again and Hill ran for over 70 yards. The team collected 282 yards on the ground. Livingston was much better throwing the football than they have been all season. The 153 yards passing between Hill and Tyler Soza were all from the first half.

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Lady Cats break out brooms

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 Kalli Saucier gets to the ball as Coach Danna Mitschke looks on. Kalli Saucier gets to the ball as Coach Danna Mitschke looks on.

By Brian Besch
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Needing a district win, Onalaska volleyball did so in three sets over Shepherd Tuesday by the lake.

Tied at 6-6 in the opening set, Onalaska rolled off five straight points on their way to a 25-14 win. The second set was never in doubt, as Onalaska took a 23-4 lead before winning 25-12.

In the final game, the Lady Cats looked like they were on their way for the easy sweep, up 9-3. However, Shepherd came back to tie the game at 20. After several ties and lead changes, Onalaska would take the match in three with a 26-24 final.

“We are 3-5 in district right now. Realistically, we should be 5-3,” Onalaska head coach Danna Mitschke said. “We went five sets with Trinity, and we should have beaten them in four. We went four sets with New Waverly and we should have beat them. We beat them in the first set and then we just fell off. We have great moments, and then the wheels come off every now and then. We get comfortable and then we kind of sit back. Then, the urgency hits and sometimes we can dig our way out of the hole, but sometimes we can’t.”

The 3-5 record puts Onalaska tied for fifth place in District 23-3A. They are not out of the playoff picture, but will need a strong second half of district play to obtain one of the four coveted spots.

Every player on the Lady Cat varsity roster gets time on the floor, something Mitschke feels is important.

“I try to do it whenever I can, and I’ve really been successful every game this season,” she said. “I tried to do that because I am trying to grow the younger ones. They need an opportunity to see the ball moving at that speed, because it is completely different than anything they’ve seen before. They need an opportunity to make some mistakes and to grow. I am all about trying to grow everyone as much as we can.”

Mitschke says the team has made tremendous strides from just the beginning of the year.

“I think we are steadily getting better. We are adding more skills and more things that we are asking them to do, and they are able to take them and put them in play. We’ve been working a lot on blocking and cover block, and things like that, because we don’t have a gigantic, tall power hitter. Defense is where we are going to cover ourselves quite a bit. I can’t ask them to work any harder than what they are working.”

Friday the team will be in Crockett, then returns home for a Tuesday match with Trinity.

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Putting it all together

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Keiona Moore gets the dig, as Coach Grace Beckmeyer looks on.Keiona Moore gets the dig, as Coach Grace Beckmeyer looks on.

By Brian Besch
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Lovelady was able to escape the north end of Polk County Tuesday with a win in four sets over the spikers from Corrigan-Camden.

Corrigan-Camden fell behind early at 5-0, and Lovelady later doubled the difference at 18-8. A rally by the Lady Bulldogs pulled them close, but the Lady Lions held on for a 25-20 win.

In the second set, the Lady Dogs jumped out to an 8-4 lead, causing Lovelady to call a timeout. Another late run for the Lady Dogs gave them a 10-point win at 25-15.

“It is a different team,” new Corrigan-Camden volleyball coach Grace Beckmeyer said of her group’s growth. “They have been doing good, but we have had a hard time with sickness and had one of our main players out. This is only her second game back. We haven’t done this rotation a whole lot, so I think it is hard. With hustling, we are getting there, but it is just knowing where you need to be first. The girls do a good job when we are rallying back and forth in ending it.”

The two final sets were hard fought, but Lovelady would prevail, winning 25-21 and 25-22 for the win in four.

The Lady Bulldogs are currently 0-3 in district, but have not had a full lineup for two of those games.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but I told them tonight I’m not disappointed because they played well. We are really strong in hustling and just getting after the ball when it is shanked and going everywhere. We need to work on our energy, because if you notice, at the beginning it was really low. Once we are up, it is electric, and everyone gets excited with all the fans. That is just something they have to learn, and it is all mental.”

The first-year coach just months removed from playing college ball at Howard Payne said she is beginning to settle into her role leading the squad.

“It is good. I am still getting in the routine of planning practices and still getting used to the head coach title and responsibilities. People don’t believe me; they think I’m still playing.”

Corrigan will need to start converting some of the close games into wins to compete in District 23-2A with Latexo, Groveton, Lovelady, Grapeland and Colmesneil.

“We went to five sets with Groveton on Friday and all games were in the 20s. It was real close, so I feel like even tonight we were pretty even. We have Latexo Friday.”

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Stinging, spiking, sweeping

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Tanyreauna Criswell keeps the ball alive.Tanyreauna Criswell keeps the ball alive.

By Brian Besch
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Apple Springs was the final non-district tune up for Goodrich volleyball Tuesday afternoon, and they made it a quick one on the south side of Polk County.

The Lady Hornets took an early 5-0 lead, and at 21-9, they were on the way to taking the opening set by 10 points. Apple Springs had an 8-6 advantage in the second set, but that quickly evaporated. Goodrich led 17-11 and would eventually win 25-17. Down 2-0 in the final set, Goodrich went on a 17-2 run, led by the serving of junior Arly Balbuena. They would win the third set 25-12.

Senior Latrina Morgan and freshman Bra’Niyah Wyatt had standout performances for the Lady Hornets in the sweep.

Goodrich volleyball coach Pinellafie Johnson said she likes the fact that she has a young (one junior and one senior) and coachable group. She says the players are quick to adjust whenever she instructs. They will still need to work on serves, transitioning and defense, according to Johnson.

“It’s been pretty good. They are steady working hard and we kick it off Friday with the first district game,” Johnson said. “You can’t lay down on anybody and you have to be ready. Leggett is our rivalry and we like playing each other. We have fun with each other, so we are looking forward to it.”

The youthful Lady Hornets have enjoyed success this season, even facing several larger schools in non-district.

“The girls are really having fun together. They are jelling so well so quickly. They are motivating themselves and I don’t have to try to motivate them now. They are finding things and ways to motivate themselves. That is a big difference, because any other time I am trying to pick them up when they are down. Even whenever they are losing, they keep themselves up.”

Johnson feels every school has a shot for the District 26-1A title. That includes, Goodrich, Leggett, Chester, Burkeville, Spurger and High Island, but she has an eye on one particular program.

“We can’t say any game is going to be easy. You have to fight for every game, but Chester, I know, is going to be pretty tough to compete with. All of them will be tough, but I think Chester is going to be fighting for that number one spot. We are still pushing to stay right up there with them. On any given night, it can be anybody’s game.” 

The Leggett rivalry game will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Goodrich Friday. After that, the Lady Hornets travel to Burkeville Tuesday, then return home the next Friday for High Island.

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Bulldogs look to clobber Hempstead

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Hempstead vs Corrigan

By Albert Trevino
Enterprise Staff

The (0-4) Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs will face off against the (1-3) Hempstead Bobcats at home this Friday.

For the last non-district matcwh of the season, the Bulldogs are still looking for their first victory in hopes that the momentum will spark them into district play.

“Just like any other game, we are finding ways to get better and make plays. This is the last opportunity to have a great game that will not affect the playoffs,” said Bulldog head coach Brett Ratliff. “We still need to play relaxed and focused, building on some of the success we had last week.”

Corrigan’s young offense showed improvement in last week’s loss versus Coldspring-Oakhurst, putting up 27 points. This was thanks in large part to the execution of the Bulldog passing attack, which helped convert huge first downs in that match.

“If we can find and exploit holes in the defense, that is where our maturity is – in the pass game. Most

of our weapons are in the receiver position,” Ratliff said. “(Michael) Sullivan is starting to figure out where he needs to go with the ball. We hope our receivers can show up again and try to build on that.”

Hempstead suffered their third straight loss last week in a 34-28 match against the Shepherd Pirates. The Bobcats’ single victory came in week one versus the Northeast Early College Raiders (Austin).

Second-year Hempstead head coach Markeith Wesley worked alongside Ratliff and Bulldog defensive coordinator Amaro Villarreal during their time with the Navasota Rattlers.

The Bobcats struggled last season with an 1-9 overall record and 0-4 record in district. Ratliff expressed his respect for his former colleague, who is also rebuilding his varsity program with a new system.

Corrigan won last season’s matchup, but Ratliff still expects a competitive effort from Hempstead.

“[Wesley] is trying to build a good program over there. They are only going to get better over time,” Ratliff said. “I believe we can be successful, but they are definitely going to be ready and want to win this game.”

The Bobcat spread offense is likely to air it out, led by senior quarterback Marlon Fisher. Hempstead also has a strong rushing option in senior Floyd Ragston. Setting up easy third downs and ball security will be the keys to success for Corrigan this Friday, according to Ratliff.

“[Fisher] loves to set up the pass in the scramble and they found a running back in Ragston, who is dangerous too,” said Ratliff. “Offensively, we need to execute on first and second to put us in a better position. Also, we need to win the turnover battle.”

Friday’s non-district game is set for 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium in Corrigan.

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