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Archive : November 2011

November 29, 2011


Abilene High Coach Steve Warren is around football a lot. He watches film, coaches players, coaches coaches (yes, that's coaches coaches), dreams football, eats football, worries football, it's all around him all the time.

In my opinion, he needs a 2 minute football break...so that's what I got him for Christmas.
Check it out...

  • mark rogers
  • November 29, 2011 11:40 AM


The Abilene High Eagles are back in the 4th round of the playoffs...a place they've been quite a bit the last few years.

They got here thanks to a close win against Mansfield HS on Saturday at Shotwell Stadium. Coach Steve Warren said he has never played a game in the kind of wind they experienced over the weekend. If he had a comb-over, it would have been blowing all over his headphones...luckily he shaves his head, which is the best look for any man (or so my wife would have me believe).

The wind was the reason he decided to give the ball to Mansfield in the second and fourth quarters...a seemingly crazy move...but guess what? Steve Warren is a lot smarter about football than most of us, and the move proved to be the difference in the game as the Eagles were able to create a 17 point lead in the first quarter when the wind was behind them. That lead ended up being enough for the win.

Next up for the Eagles? Mansfield Timberview. A relatively new school with a football team that has never been this deep in the playoffs...good sign for AHS on paper.

They lost two games this year: a non-district game against Cedar Hill and a district match up against the team the Eagles just defeated - Mansfield...good sign for AHS on paper.

But if good signs on paper were what decided games, the Eagles may not even be where they are now so we'll throw those out.

Timberview is an option team. They have an above average QB and RB who are extremely efficient at running their offense. About 60% of their starters are seniors, so they're a veteran-heavy club, but don't have this type of playoff experience.

I've said from the beginning of the playoffs that the only way to beat the Eagles is to keep the ball away from them. That means long, sustained drives of 6 or 7+ minutes and 9+ plays. Something passing teams aren't prone to doing.

But this isn't a passing team. Timberview is the type of team which could potentially go on long drives, keep the ball away from the Eagles and come out of Denton with a victory.

So the key, in my opinion, is for the Eagle defense to stop Timberview on third down and get the ball back in the hands of Abbe and Grayer.

Grayer, by the way, is going to be fine. He'll be limited in practice today, but will practice and the hip is making great progress.

Not to look ahead, but if the Eagles are able to pull out the Region 1 championship, they'll play the winner of the Spring Dekaney and Spring Westfield game which is in Humble at the same time the Eagles will be playing.

And that, my friends, would be another trip to the final four.

Just an FYI, the teams still alive on the other side of the bracket are Cibolo Steele, PA Memorial, La Porte, and SA Reagan.

The Eagles will be ready to play come Saturday at 2 PM. They're relatively healthy and hungry for another state champioship, gale force winds or not.
  • mark rogers
  • November 29, 2011 11:09 AM

November 28, 2011


After a 2-3 start which saw two disgusting, double-digit leads disappear and a near victory over an 8-3 Patriots team, Dallas has reeled off four straight wins and, with a win over a struggling Arizona Cardinals team this Sunday, is poised to be 8-4 heading into the final quarter of the season.

I'm not saying the Cardinals will be a cake walk - they've won 3 out of 4 after a six game losing skid - but it's definitely a winnable game.And other than the Eagles debacle, Dallas has played rather well on the road this year. By the way, this "hot" streak the Cardinals are on? They beat the Eagles (4-7) and the Rams (2-9) twice...scary.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Dallas is 7-4 with five games left. Those games are against Arizona, NYG (2), Tampa Bay, and the Eagles. Three wins in that stretch would put Dallas at 10-6 and in a position to make the playoffs as the NFC East champs.

To break it down further, if Dallas splits the games against the Giants, beats the Cardinals and can either beat the Eagles or Bucs (4-7), there's your 10 wins.

Not out of the question.

A preliminary playoff scenario has the Packers and 49ers earning first round byes. Green Bay is 11-0 and playing ridiculously good football right now.

San Francisco's remaining five games are against St. Louis (2), Seattle, Arizona and Pittsburgh. Take the Steelers out of the equation, and the 49ers remaining opponents have a combined record of 10-23 (.303)...impressive.

So possible Wild Card opponents for Dallas could be New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, or the Giants. Then it'd either be GB or SF in the Divisional.

Tonight's game between New Orleans and the Giants is important because if NO wins, they'll have a lone grasp of the 3 seed and Dallas would be out of that pesky tie with New York. But if the Giants win, the NFC would have a log jam with six teams sitting at 7-4. I don't like log jams...too much can happen...too many scenarios. Makes me nervous.

I do, however, like the looks of the Giants' remaining schedule: New Orleans (7-3) tonight, Green Bay (11-0), Dallas (7-4), Washington (4-7), NYJ (6-5), then Dallas again...that's a tough stretch.

All that to say, Dallas has five games left and of the remaining opponents, only the Giants have a winning record.

Should we win the division? Yes. If we don't could we still be in contention for a Wild Card spot? Absolutely. If we end up not making the playoffs, will the rest of my hair fall out? You betcha.

This should be an interesting December. At least it actually means something. Remember last year when December had turned into an extended Jason Garrett job interview? I've tried to forget...

  • mark rogers
  • November 28, 2011 9:44 AM

November 15, 2011


The Abilene High Eagles are in a familiar place: favored to win in the second round of the playoffs and expected to make another deep run towards an 8th state championship.

But rewind to just before the first game, and I'd have to say that if you would have told me then what we're expecting now, I would have been a little surprised.

The Sims brothers were gone, most of the guys from the 2009 state title team were gone, the defense had some question marks, and there was certainly a big question mark at the QB position.

AHS certainly knew what it had at running back: a super fast, dynamic runner who would have started for any school in the state a year ago - Paxton Grayer. But the question was whether or not a running game combined with a "so-so" passing game could take the Eagles back to the promised land.

Evin Abbe ended up getting the nod at QB and over the course of 11 weeks, completely erased any sense of the passing attack being "so-so".  His development coupled with an incredibly efficient and potent running game has made the Abilene Eagles a dark horse favorite to win another title...only this time, they're completely off the radar, which is right where they want to be.

Abbe took the reins with the confidence of a seasoned veteran and transformed every week right before our eyes. He aged about 18 months in about six weeks.

The Eagles lost three of their first five games and in two of those games Abbe's completion percentage was in the 50s. Two more games in the first five Abbe threw for less than 200 yards.

But every week he was learning, gaining experience, and turning into a great quarterback.

Steve Warren told me a few weeks ago that Abbe just might be the toughest QB he's ever coached. Abbe doesn't duck and run at the first sign of trouble. He doesn't care about getting hit. He goes through his progressions, takes all the time he has, delivers strikes, and on most occasions, gets hit right in the mouth.

But he always gets right back up to do it all over again.

That's a helpless feeling as an offensive lineman - to see you're QB picking himself up off the deck after more than a few plays.

But Abbe knows he's going to get hit, he just needs a little time. I don't care if you're Larry Allen, if you let a defensive lineman have an unlimited amount of time, he's going to get by you. Abbe knows that. But he doesn't care.

After that 2-3 start in which Abbe got better and better every week, they hit the district schedule.

His "worst" game was against OHS in game 1 of district. It was the only district game he failed to hit 70% of his passes (68%) or throw for more than 200. They blew out the Bronchos and Abbe wasn't called on to have a huge game. He threw 3 TDs and no picks.

After that game, Abbe's completion percentage the last four games was 71, 77, 72, and 70. Incredible. And it's not like the Eagles weren't throwing. In those four games, Abbe averaged 28 attempts per game.

He went over 300 yards against Lee, Midland High and Cooper (227 against Permian in a blowout) throwing 10 TDs against just 2 picks. He threw five interceptions all year.

This all from a guy who wasn't even sure he was going to be the QB right before the season...and a junior to boot.

Now we get to watch Abbe perform in the playoffs.

And Eagle fans can only hope his growth as a QB continues on the rapid pace it's been on for the last several weeks.

If that happens and the Eagles stay healthy, look for AHS to surprise a handful of teams and quite possibly contend for Steve Warren's second state championship and 8th in school history.

Now that Abbe has turned into what he is, the Eagles have the tools to make it happen.

  • mark rogers
  • November 15, 2011 8:07 PM