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Taking another big step

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090822 lions vs palastine

By Brian Besch
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Livingston football is 0-2 after a 44-19 loss to Needville, and will have another stiff challenge Friday in Palestine.

The team is mostly healthy, but may be without a key lineman for the game this week. Lion coach Finis Vanover praised the line’s play from the Needville loss, saying they turned in one of the best performances of the past year.

“The offensive line was just wonderful,” he said. “Coach (James) Herrera and (Emmanuel) Rivera have done a great job with those kids and continue their improvement. They blocked wonderfully and good enough to win in most cases. Our running backs have improved dramatically in carrying out their fakes and carrying the ball. We are still missing some blocks here and there, and our fullbacks still have to understand their importance to this team to block and catch the ball.”

The coach said a few of the top rushing performers of the first two weeks may start to see more carries. In the first two games of the season, the Lions had up to eight players take handoffs.

With game experience, the defensive backs are expected to improve. The coaching staff believes a tendency to peek into the backfield on play action passes has been a large problem when covering longer routes.

Finally, special teams may see a different group on the field Friday.

“Somehow, we have to find 11 guys who will fix that,” the coach said of his kickoff and kickoff return unit.

“The areas we need improvement can be fixed — the majority of them. What you can’t fix is attitude and desire.

They have to have that inside and it has to come out. If they can’t, we have to find somebody that does have that.”

The Wildcats from Palestine are 1-1 after a 37-31 season-opening win over Nacogdoches and 40-28 loss last week to Jasper.

“Palestine has a very athletic defensive line,” Vanover said. “The linebackers are very skilled and the skill kids can cover you. They run a 3-4 defense with a very good nose and tackles. Those two end guys are very good and they always will be. They do a super job with that. They do some things with their outside linebackers, where one is rushing and one is always dropping. They double rush from the outside to stop all of our rollout stuff.”

The Wildcats haven’t had problems putting points on the board, and the Lions will have their hands full with a different look from the first two weeks.

“Offensively, they are kind of like Splendora, where it is a Slot T but they are spread out. They have a great counter play and they will run a toss. They have been running it forever. They have an athletic quarterback with tall receivers.

The offensive linemen are probably a little bit taller than our kids and they are wide. They run the ball really aggressive downhill.”

Livingston will likely attempt to keep the Palestine offense on the sidelines as much as possible with long scoring drives. Last week, that plan worked for a half, as the Lions ran 43 plays to just 13 for the Blue Jays.

Every team in District 10-4A took a loss last Friday and are searching for answers in the same manner as Livingston. Difficulties through the non-district schedule should serve as preparation when it comes time to square off against those district opponents.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If we will trust our eyes, trust our coaching, trust each other and not lose confidence — we keep coming to work just like we did this past week — it is going to come together. Last week, we got exceptionally better. It just wasn’t good enough to beat that team. We have to take another big step in getting better.” 

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Livingston Cross-Country

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090122 livingston lions

The Livingston Lion varsity cross country teams won first place at the Rick Miller Meet held in Vidor’s Claiborne West Park last week.

090122 lady lion cross county


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Onalaska fighting back

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090122 onalaska volleyballDestiny Lindley reaches for the spike. Autumn Adams gets the dig for the Lady Cats. Photos by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch
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Lady Cat volleyball fell in straight sets to Hull-Daisetta 25-18, 25-13 and 27-25 Tuesday in Onalaska.

Though losing in three, the Lady Cats found a way to be competitive at some point in each set. The trouble in all sets was at the beginning, where they trailed 9-2 in the first, 6-2 in the second, and 5-0 in the third. In each of the first two, Onalaska pulled to within at least two points, and even held a lead in the final set.

A.J. Pinkert, Briseis Sabino, Keori Rogers, Kaleigh Park and Autumn Adams were consistent players versus the Lady Bobcats, but a key piece was missing. “One of our starting setter, Savannah Benningfield, is sick. The doctor set her out for a couple of days and rightfully so,” Onalaska coach Danna Mitschke said. “I moved a freshman up from the JV to fill that spot. She came in and did a good job serving and had some good plays. I have no complaints about how she played at all. We got in our own head from the onset of the first game. We had doubts because our comfort level wasn’t what it would normally be.”

Both teams struggled serving the ball Tuesday. Momentum was lost and possession changed hands several times because of a ball hit too hard or into the net. The coach said there has been a focus on serves, and believes it to be a mental issue, struggling to maintain a consistent emotional level.

Mitschke said there are three things Onalaska coaches want from the players when they step on the floor ­– getting the first serve, communicating with teammates, and making a positive impact on the team.
In a sweep of Hudson last week, the coach said her team’s serving was “spot on.”

“We fought back,” she said of the Hull-Daisetta match. “They don’t roll over and quit. They tried to fight. We struggle with change.

Destiny Lindley, it is her first year on the varsity. I had to move a freshman setter up. We have a sophomore in A.J. Pinkert and she is so athletic. She is still learning how to control her body when she is in the air. I did not think that we covered as well as we have been. I’m going to take that one, because I did not focus on that yesterday in practice. Briseis Sabino took over some libero and played great. On the back row we passed the ball up on the net several times. We were still able to fight through that.”

The Lady Cats are currently 9-9 and will next host Corrigan-Camden Tuesday, a very strong Class 2A squad from the north side of the county. District begins three days later when Shepherd comes to the lake.

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‘Dogs make it two in a row

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090422 corrigan vs elksBulldog senior back Anthony Harrell finds room along the left side on an early first-down run. Photo by Albert Trevino

By Albert Trevino
Enterprise Staff

The Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs established a strong halftime lead and finished with a 49-22 win against the Elkhart Elks on Friday.

Corrigan’s offense found its rhythm and never looked back, as Elkhart pulled off some early highlights in the passing game that kept it close only in the first half.

“Our defense has led the way so far and always does. To come out with a couple of communication mistakes and play against a team that throws the ball better, we need that,” said Bulldog head coach Brett Ratliff. “We are going to have to stop that if we are going to make a run like we want to.”

Elkhart struck first on its opening drive, as a breakdown in the Bulldog secondary left an open Elk receiver for a 46-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Trystyn Tidrow.

The Bulldog offense answered with senior running back Anthony Harrell breaking through the middle for a 29-yard touchdown run. Corrigan took the early 7-6 lea with the extra point.

A muffed kickoff return by Elkhart set its offense deep in their own territory, then gave up field position on a three-and-out.
It helped set up Bulldog senior quarterback Christian Guzman for a couple of big runs, leading to Harrell punching it in for another rushing touchdown to extend the lead.

The Elks would be forced to punt again from deep and Guzman threw a 30-yard pass to senior receiver JaVarion Williams in the endzone to take a 21-6 lead going into the second quarter.

Elkhart responded, as Tidrow ran for a huge gain into the red zone, then tossed a touchdown pass down the middle to junior receiver Pablo Rodarte to cut it back to a one-score game.
This would only temporarily keep it a close match, as the Bulldogs continued their fast pace going into halftime.

Guzman connected with junior receiver Bayden Lawrence on another touchdown pass.
Then, a Corrigan fumble near the goal line was quickly negated by an Elkhart fumble in the end zone for a Bulldog defensive touchdown.

“[Offensively,] we were essentially 5-for-5 in the first half.” Ratliff said. “I thought they had a pretty good plan. [Tidrow] threw the ball well. We let one guy slip by us on the defensive coverage. Then, the next drive they kind of earned it.”

The Bulldogs would run away in the second half and further extend their lead. The biggest play came in the third quarter, when Guzman ran for an 80-yard touchdown.

Corrigan will play at home again Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the Kirbyville Wildcats.

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Too much to handle

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090422 lions vs needvilleJakob St. Martin (left) and Brayden Ethier celebrate one of the Lions’ three touchdowns Friday night. Courtesy photo

By Brian Besch
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Lion football showed improvement in the second game of the season, but a few glaring weaknesses were too much to overcome a 44-19 loss to Needville Friday in Livingston.

Needville quarterback Diego Ochoa completed just four passes on the night, but two went for touchdowns and all were at least 20 yards. Ochoa also ran for 80 yards, while running back Da’Shawn Burton added 119 yards and three scores on just 14 carries. With 254 yards on the ground, the Blue Jays averaged over seven yards per tote.

The Lion offense showed progress, but lacked the consistency needed to remain competitive. Quarterback Jakob St. Martin ran for 94 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, while the rest of the team combined for 90 yards on 23 attempts. St. Martin threw the ball 21 times, completing 10 of those for 118 yards with an interception. An opening drive of just three plays, the Blue Jays took a 7-0 advantage. A few possessions later, Livingston had a scoring drive of their own when a Landon Leggett fumble recovery at the Needville 21 set the Lions up in good field position. A blocked extra point kept the visitors in front at 7-6.

After a few Blue Jay touchdowns, Livingston extended a second-quarter drive with a fake punt and marched 62 yards in 10 plays, taking over five minutes for a St. Martin 4-yard run. The final Livingston score would come in the second half, closing the deficit to 30-19.

“Once again, they were too much for us to handle,” Lion coach Finis Vanover said. “We had four great plays where we had them completely set up and executed perfectly, and something would go wrong. They ate us alive on our play action stuff, we couldn't hit the quick throws, they just took us to the woodshed for the majority of the contest. We had some fine possessions and upgraded ourselves, but we didn't get good enough to play those folks, making the errors that we made. We told them at halftime that it is a two-score game and we've made glaring mistakes. But, we gave up the big explosive plays on defense, and you can't do that.”

The Lion defense failed to hold up its end, unable to stop the run or pass. Statistics from Ochoa could have been much worse had Blue Jay receivers brought in passes hitting their hands. In two games now, the young Livingston secondary has been inadequate in coverage.

“We don't have any answers right now in a couple of those spots,” Vanover said of his pass defense. “It is what it is right now. We are struggling against really good talent. We can't hit the panic button and can't fold up the tents. We have to keep getting better. Palestine (next week’s opponent) is going to have some folks, but we just have to keep with it. Characters are getting tested right now. We're getting isolated out there and those guys are just shredding us. We've got to step up and make plays.”

Another area of the game damaging Livingston chances is special teams, where an extra point was blocked, kickoff returns were not fielded cleanly on multiple occasions, and the kickoff team allowed an 80-yard return for a touchdown. The one bright spot on special teams for the night was punter Nester Ramirez.

“Just atrocious – we didn't block a soul on kick return and we were just feeding them the returners like sacrificial lambs. I wouldn't catch it either. We spent more time on that in film, and even did it today. That is about want-to and heart. Right now, we're not wanting to do it too much.”

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