Monday, December 27, 2010
This has been a pretty weird year. Normally weekends in November and December are reserved strictly for football. However, with Abilene High and Cooper making earlier than anticipated exits and the ACU football team (which was ranked #2 in the country) losing their lone playoff game, I was running out of teams to cover very fast.
Two weeks earlier the Hardin-Simmons University womens soccer team qualified for their first trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four. They were ranked #2 in the country in D3 and were playing only 4.5 hours down the road in San Antonio. So, unlike a lot of the teams that were coming from the northeast, this was practically a home game for them.
The semifinal game, was far from being my best. There wasn't a whole lot of action and ended in a 0-0 tie with HSU winning in a shootout. Part of the problem was the light kind of sucked, the other part was I was probably relying a little too heavily on waiting for a reaction shot either from a goal or from the loss. Then by the second half I was frustrated and while I got a few decent shots, it just wasn't what I wanted. Luckily they won the game and I'd have a chance to redeem myself in the game that mattered.
The next day I went in ready for the bad light and knowing I needed something better. The first few minutes I shot from the field, but planned as the light was going away quick I'd get up high and shoot before it got dark. The night before I was needing to jack up my ISO pretty high, and shooting from the stands I wanted to shoot really long so I had to have some daylight to keep stopping action. By the time the sun had gone down I was happier with the shots I had from 10-15 minutes of shooting up high than I was with anything I'd gotten the night before. So, instead of going back down to the field and shooting without the teleconverter, I figured I'd just slow down my shutter and try some pan stuff for the rest of the half.
It didn't hurt that, not only would I have the whole second half to shoot from the field, but I also knew the main shot we were going to run would be a reaction from the win/loss of the game. Well, luckily it worked out well going up high because in the second half HSU backed up and just protected their 2-0 lead, only giving up one goal which in the end didn't matter, but added to the drama. As the clock expired it was time to find the front page shot. One of the reasons I love shooting championship games is there is never a shortage of emotions. And with them winning the school's first team national championship in school history, they were certainly making the big deal out of it that it deserved. Ironically, the shot we ran isn't here. Although, I wasn't in love with the trophy shot, it was the iconic one that I still think was the best choice. But I like the group celebration shot better from right after the clock expired and the shot of them "guns up" better.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Willie Nelson returned to Abilene for another concert recently. With a distinct lack of nationally-known acts coming through town it's always cool to get a decent concert to come through town. Outside of Kansas just recently, I can't remember big concert here since the last time Willie came through town. This time, however, he had an opening act. His son, Lukas, opened up for him. It was a lot different from Willie. Lukas can rock out on the guitar. And if I were there for the concert I'd have probably enjoyed it a lot more. But, having been up against a deadline I spent most of my time staring at my watch hoping he'd be finishing up soon, so I could get a few different shots. Luckily it got over with enough time for me to get shots from up close and a few wide shots in the back and still get back in time to make deadline.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
The second half of the doubleheader was Abilene High playing its old third round nemesis Southlake Carroll. The last time these two teams played in the playoffs at Texas Stadium, AHS squeaked away with the win after Southlake was setting up to win the game with a field goal, but a fumbled snap while trying to get the ball to the middle of the field. The two previous times, SLC won, once in a blowout, the other in a close game. So there was certainly a history there. However, unlike in the past AHS was coming in as the favorite.
Things didn't look too good before the game, the Abilene High starting QB had a stomach virus and was being given fluids. However, things didn't look too bad, the sophomore, who despite making his first varsity start at Cowboys Stadium in the third round of the playoffs, didn't look bad at all. It doesn't hurt to have a healthy Herschel Sims as your running back. The game really boiled down to just a few plays, an interception near the goal line, and a fumble on a drive where AHS was just marching down the field, which SLC took advantage of and scored. The other problem was they couldn't make a stop in the second half, but had they not had those two turnovers, I don't know that that would have mattered. Well, I'm not sure it would have mattered anyway, this team just wasn't the same team they had last year.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Round three of the playoffs had both Abilene High and Cooper playing a doubleheader at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. I gotta say, I always felt even as big of a dump that the old Texas Stadium was, as far as high school football games go, there was no cooler place to play a game. Well, now that Texas Stadium has been imploded, and the new improved monstrosity that is Cowboys Stadium has taken its place, this REALLY IS the coolest place in the world for a high school football game. This place is both huge as well as completely state of the art. And while I've covered a few games there already, it's still cool to go there, especially since I'm being paid to be there!
Cooper was playing in the first game against Denton Guyer, the team that had knocked them out of the Class 4A playoffs the previous two years. And after those two games and with a lot of the players on the team that had lost to Guyer the previous two seasons to say there is no love lost between the two teams would be an understatement. In fact, outside of maybe Abilene High, I don't think there's a team in the state Cooper would rather beat than Guyer.
This game wasn't going to be the one that they won. The week before Cooper had three players kicked off the team for violating team rules. And, while a couple of players can make a difference in the game, when you lose 55-7, it wouldn't have mattered if the three players had played or not. Guyer just flat dominated both sides of the ball and Cooper played one of the worst games I've seen them played all year. It was pretty sad to see them get blown out like they did after having such a great season, plus blowouts never make for great photos, especially when the team you are covering is on the receiving end of it.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The nightcap to the post-turkey football fest was Brownwood vs. Borger. It's been a few years since I've shot a Brownwood playoff game, and I forgot how well they travel. The stands at Shotwell Stadium on the home side were packed 40 minutes before the game even started, and by kickoff there was probably more maroon on the visitors' side than there was red for Borger. Unlike the other couple of Brownwood games I'd seen this season the Lions didn't look as dominant as they had all year. Which is kind of laughable considering they won the game 35-6! But, I think that had a lot more to do with them just having a bad night, and yet they still won by 29 points, which was their smallest margin of victory for the year.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Probably the best thing about the Thanksgiving holiday is the Friday after. While most people are out shopping, there is always an alternative, which for me means getting out of shooting Black Friday shopping, and that's usually a Friday football doubleheader.
At this time of year, the afternoon games start out in decent light and by the time they are ending there is some really nice light. Plus there is no pressure to run back to the press box and get some pix out quick. I get to sit down and actually look for a decent photo instead. Plus it was a local game, so I didn't even have to leave town. I love it when the area teams come to me, since I spend most of the season chasing them around.
The game was a Class A playoff game between Munday and Hamlin. Hamlin had a great freshman running back and Munday had a great sophomore spread quarterback. Munday was the favorite coming into the game but Hamlin played really well for the first three quarters and held the lead going into the fourth quarter. Then Munday, in particular QB Dee Paul took over. With some really nice defense and some great runs by Paul, Munday turned things around quick. Then a pick-six by a sophomore safety pretty much sealed the game for Munday and they were moving on. A fun game to watch.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Ok, yes, I'm damn far behind in my blogging since these photos are from Thanksgiving. Anyway... This story was about the last minute grocery store rush for Thanksgiving. When the story was told to me I pretty much knew where I wanted to go. The United Supermarket on 14th Street in Abilene has a an upstairs overhang where all the offices are. I figured the best way to show off the massive crowds and traffic jammed registers was to shoot from up top. It actually made things a lot easier and couple with a shot of a lady who was planning to feed 20 people checking out made for a really easy assignment.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
A day after Wylie missed out on playing for a state title in volleyball I was back in Abilene shooting Hardin-Simmons trying to make a trip to the NCAA Division III Soccer Final Four. They were playing a home game of the NCAA tournament against Emory University. It was a pretty good game, HSU went up by two goals early and then shut them down allowing one goal in the second half. Qualifying them for their first soccer final four in school history.
The top photo never actually ran in the paper, I was afraid it was a little too graphic. The player wasn't hurt bad and she didn't even need stitches, they just glued it. But it looked a lot worse that it actually was. The funny part about it was the HSU sports information director called me and asked me to email him a copy of the shot. And even though it was one of the Cowgirls' top players, it really didn't have any effect on the game's outcome, so I decided not to use it. The jube shots told the story of the situation a lot better than the girl on the ground.