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Still streaking

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091822 corrigan footballBulldog senior Anthony Harrell runs in open space near the red zone. Photo by Albert Trevino

By Albert Trevino
Enterprise Staff

The Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs maintained their early season win streak with a 33-30 victory over the Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans Friday.

Despite the Trojans keeping the game within reach up until the final seconds, Corrigan managed to weather the storm on the road for their fourth straight non-district win.

The Trojans’ first play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble recovered by the Bulldogs. Corrigan’s offense capitalized with help from a big first-down run by senior Anthony Harrell. This set up a 15-yard touchdown run by senior back Ja’Varion Williams to take the early seven-point lead.

Coldspring responded on its next drive by gaining big chunks of yards in the run game. Near the goal line, sophomore Tyga Parker got the toss and took it in for a short touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion to steal the early lead by one.

Later in the first, the Trojans suffered another fumble turnover. The Bulldog offense quickly approached the goal line on the next possession and senior quarterback Morgan Rayborn punched it in for the touchdown to regain the lead.

The Bulldogs converted on a fourth-down run going into the second quarter, which helped set up a teardrop pass from Rayborn to Harrell in the end zone to extend the lead to 12 points.

After an interception on the next Corrigan drive, the Trojan offense would cut the lead back to six before halftime as junior K.J. Harden ran for a short score.

Early in the third quarter, Harrell took a short pass all the way for a huge gain into Trojan territory. This set up junior Tony Cooper to sprint up the middle for a touchdown run.

Coldspring cut the lead again with Parker scoring another six-pointer run late in the third.

A fumble in the fourth quarter by the Trojans would help set up another late Bulldog touchdown run by Williams. This would essentially put the game out of reach for Coldspring.

Parker would break away in the final seconds for a long touchdown run, along with a two-point conversion to pull Coldspring to within three points. However, the following onside attempt by Coldspring was unsuccessful.

The Bulldogs will play their final non-district match Friday at Hempstead to face the Bobcats.

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Lions win

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091822 lion footballZaylon Bogany (second from right) scoops a fumble and scores from 74 yards out. Courtesy photo

By Brian Besch
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Livingston football has entered the win column, scoring on their final drive to beat Spring Legacy 48-47 for homecoming Friday at Lion Stadium.

The Lions found themselves down 47-42 in a game that they led most of the way. They took possession at their own 35-yard line with 5:27 remaining in regulation. They would march 10 plays down to the Spring Legacy 5-yard line.

Facing a fourth-and-one on the 11th play of the drive, quarterback Ta McNeal (137 rushing yards) took the snap and ducked his head into the line. He would receive a momentum boost from teammate Landon Leggett, who shoved him from behind.

When McNeal landed, the arms of officials went into the air, signaling the Lions had taken a one-point lead at 48-47.

After missing the two-point conversion, Livingston (1-3) would hang on for the final 23 seconds to capture their first win of the 2022 season.

“That tested everything we have in our souls,” an exhausted, but satisfied Finis Vanover said after the lengthy struggle. “We told them all along that this was the best two-week period we’ve had since I’ve been here. Last week, we lost and we didn’t get down, but we played good enough to win. We killed ourselves with some penalties, but we played good enough to win because we practiced that way. We came back Monday and had the best three consecutive days with not one problem or homecoming or the parade — and we had the best practices we’ve had in four years.

“We told them before we left the locker room that God rewards people who earn things and do things the right way. For two solid weeks, they have done nothing but earn the right to have a chance to win. If a group of young men ever deserved to win, those guys have done what it takes. These guys (pointing to Legacy) are explosive as heck. They have some cats that can go in a hurry. We said all along that we have to get a two-score lead on them. They got right back in it with those explosive players. We had to fight our way back and do it again.”

After falling behind 7-0, the Lions reeled off three consecutive touchdowns. McNeal ran in from a yard out, Trendon Williams (115 rushing yards) sprinted for 85 yards and the longest play of the season to this point, and Zaylon Bogany scooped a fumble and rumbled for 74 yards to put the Lions up 21-7.

McNeal would score once more for a total of three on the night, Chevy Peters caught a 20-yard strike for a score from McNeal, and Connor Starr took a handoff in for 14 yards, adding to the Lions’ scoring tally.

The Titans (1-3) are a very athletic team, but undisciplined to the point of sloppy at times. The home team was able to take full advantage by piling up 360 rushing yards.

“Our kids blocked them beautifully and the backs ran like crazy,” Vanover said. “Ta did a great job seeing things and keeping us rolling. I couldn’t be more pleased. We showed up tonight and I think folks are going to see a new team from henceforth.

“The two of us got in the ring in the last two rounds and nobody ducked. We lined up and took every punch and came right back and had a follow-up punch ourselves. We took it down to drive it and kept it in bounds and used our timeouts wisely.

They played magnificently. The defense made great plays and they got killed, but those guys are talented. Nobody got down and nobody turned. It is a new bunch and we saw it happening last week. There was no question on Wednesday that we were about to win this game. I told them then that it was going to come down to the last possession or we would win by 30.”

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Fighting like Trojans

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091522 bulldogs vs trojans

By Albert Trevino
Enterprise Staff

The (3-0) Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs go on the road to play the (2-1) Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans in a non-district matchup this Friday.

After an early season win streak, the Bulldogs may have their hardest test so far, as they visit Coldspring for what is expected to be a physical four quarters on both sides.

Although head coach and former Bulldog Brett Ratliff remembers playing the nearby Trojans his senior year almost 15 years ago, he is prepared to face the same overall style of offense Coldspring is traditionally known for.

“[Coldspring] has not changed much as far as being physical, athletic and well coached.” said Ratliff. “They are a very good football team and that is why I wanted to play them. They run a ground-and-pound type offense that we need to see, especially when we try to get ready for [teams like] Centerville later on in the season.”

The Trojans, currently led by Coach Ken Stanley, are coming off 42-12 road loss versus the Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns last week.

Coldspring had a strong start to the season, first beating the Liberty Panthers 28-21 on the road, followed by a 34-7 victory at home over the Splendora Wildcats.

Over recent years, the Trojans have had overall success against teams that Corrigan is more familiar with, including Crockett, Diboll, Kountze and Woodville.

Last season, Coldspring finished with a 5-1 district record and lost a first-round playoff game 30-6 against the Anahuac Panthers.

The primarily double wing Trojan offense will feature junior quarterback Luke Monroe.

“[Monroe] is kind of that dealer back there that knows how to hide the ball well.” Ratiliff said. “I also think he is their best overall player. He plays quarterback and he will also come in to play safety as well.”

Coldspring’s defense will include another key playmaker in senior end Chrishun McGowen, according to Ratliff.

“They will have one of the best defensive ends we will see this year in McGowen. He is talented and is a good-sized kid and gets to the ball quick.” said Ratliff. “He is a prototypical college player.”

Ratliff is counting on Friday’s matchup to be a test of will and conditioning for his now-matured varsity squad, relating it to a pair of fighters in a long sparring session.

“I amount these types of games to when you are training for boxing.” Ratliff said. “That is going to be us for 48 minutes. We are going to put our foot in the tire and see who can last the longest.”

Kickoff for Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. at Trojan Stadium (Coldspring High School).

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Homecoming week

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091522 livngston vs legacy

By Brian Besch
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Livingston Lion football waited until the first road trip to turn in their best performance of the season. They will look to build upon that with all the distractions of homecoming Friday versus Spring

“If we have the same team that showed up and played Friday night, we are going to beat a lot of folks,” Lion coach Finis Vanover said of his squad. “It was a totally different mindset, physicality and performance – with the exception of some penalties. We lost on the scoreboard, but we won a whole bunch of battles Friday night in personnel, playing and confidence. We have got to clean up the mess of the kicking game and the penalties.”

Though winning the game, Palestine was outgained in total offensive yardage 279 to 215. However, the Wildcats led from the end of the first quarter to the final. The coach said his staff has been
frustrated with slow starts and that there will be a focus this week on being strong and aggressive from the first whistle.

“That part is really frustrating from a coaching standpoint. It looks like we haven’t practiced at all and don’t have our kids prepared. It takes us eight minutes to a whole quarter to get untracked and go.”

A defense that has been the pillar of the Lions finally looked the part in the third game of the season, creating turnovers and stopping the run. Connor Starr provided a big hit that resulted in a fumble, and Javean Gardner broke on a pass for an interception. A change in scheme to give defensive backs some help may have been a big difference in the defense’s performance. The Lions used the strength of the unit – defensive linemen – to get more pressure into the backfield. The result was a defense that allowed very little between the tackles.

“The defense came out and was doing a super job,” Vanover said. “It was our best defensive performance in a long time. We felt that was going to happen. We did all the things we wanted. We got the ball away from them, we had picks, we had fumble recoveries, we had goal line stands. It is hard to play much better high school defense than we did the other night against a good team.

“We’ve done fairly well offensively at times. It was the first time in a long time we were able to throw the ball deep and catch it to score.

It was nice and a great feeling – but then, nope, it’s coming back (from penalties). But the performance of the group shot up immensely. There were some individual performances that shot up immensely too.”

Last week was the first game action for quarterback Jontavian McNeal, and the senior got started in a big way. He scored three touchdowns – one each by reception, rushing and passing – and was the game’s
leading rusher with 140 yards.

“Jontavian gives us some threats that we didn’t have and we were able to stand in the pocket and throw the ball, letting them rush outside. That is a big asset and helps. We had two fabulous catches on that last drive. One was with (wide receiver Dylan) Murphy on an out route, where we needed eight yards and picked up 11. Then, we came back three plays later and hit the big tight end (Nick Smith) on a post across the middle while sitting in the pocket.”

Legacy (1-2) has been a few different teams in their three games, dropping a heartbreaker in the final seconds versus Huffman Hargrave 28-27, defeating a tough Orangefield team 40-30, then getting blown out by Celina 60-22 last week.
Legacy will show a 4-3 defense with two high safeties that will play zone and man under. They have surrendered nearly 40 points per game, so the Livingston offense will need to take advantage.

Offensively, Vanover said the line will be one of the biggest they face this year. They are athletic in the skill positions with a quarterback that will distribute the ball in a spread offense.

The Lion team is hoping to break into the win column this week, but to do so, they will need to avoid the distractions that accompany homecoming.

“Homecoming is really about folks that aren’t even in school. It is about folks coming back to their school and enjoying festivities of the game and activities,” the coach said. “It has turned into just the opposite. I can’t change that or fix that, but we are accountable and responsible for getting this football team ready and the players to get themselves ready. We need to bring that same team back from Friday night. If we’ll do that, I think we’ll have a wonderful night and they’ll have themselves a great homecoming dance and cap off the week of festivities.”

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Getting closer

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091122 livingston vs palestineThe offensive line drives the Palestine defense back. Photo by Drew Dunson

By Brian Besch
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Mistakes and penalties in the first half cost Livingston football a chance at its first win, falling 24-18 Friday in Palestine.
The Lions are 0-3 on the season, but continue to show improvement in each loss. Palestine (2-1) took advantage of the slow start, punching in three first-half touchdowns to coast the remainder of the way.

A few possessions after Elijah Walker’s two-yard run to put the Wildcats up 7-0, Jontavian McNeal took an option keeper and sprinted upfield for 47 yards and a Lion six-pointer. The extra point was missed, keeping Palestine in front of a 7-6 score.
The ‘Cats answered with a 70-yard strike on blown coverage, as Elijah Walker was left open to increase the margin to eight. Walker soon struck again for a 17-yard run, going up 21-6 at the half.

Penalties and field position killed Lion chances in the first half. Livingston shot themselves in the foot with eight flags for 62 yards. Two key infractions negated 120 yards in the air and a touchdown. The Lions would end the night with 13 penalties.

“Eleven of those penalties were probably boneheaded errors,” Lion coach Finis Vanover said. “That first quarter was a nightmare and I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It puts you behind the eight ball right off the bat.”

Livingston was the better team in the second half. They were able to drive the ball, yet didn’t always produce points. Palestine was held to a field goal, and had trouble running the ball between the tackles all night.

One play after taking possession at the Wildcat 27 in the third quarter, McNeal floated a well-placed pass to Chevy Peters, closing the gap to 21-12.

On the Lions’ final drive, an 11-play march ended in Jakob St. Martin rolling left, then turning and throwing right to McNeal, who sidestepped a defender and ran into the end zone.

“What an effort,” Vanover said. “We were playing good defense and we really felt good about bottling these guys up and holding them – and we did. The defense played like we’ve been expecting them to and like they have the last two years. They rose to the occasion tonight. At times, offensively, we did. We outmanned them physically on both sides of the ball. We had to find a little mismatches and the little cracks and attack straight downhill. We dropped too many balls again and some crucial ones. We did a great job of protecting (the quarterback), but we had to wait so long to get open.”

The play of McNeal kept the Lions in the game. He had touchdowns by running, catching and throwing to account for the three Livingston scores. He toted the ball 20 times for 140 yards and threw for another 65. The senior had less than two days to prepare for his first game of the year.

“I thought both (quarterbacks) did a great job of coming in under duress from Wednesday on and picking this thing up,” the coach said.
“Ta has a little more experience and athleticism in doing that and he came through to perform really well. He didn’t make many poor decisions. His play was good enough to help us win. Our punting killed us tonight and we gave them great field position. It looked like wewere kicking an egg.”

Livingston will return to Lion Stadium next week to take on Spring Legacy.

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