Denton’s Chris Miller commits to Colorado

As a three-sport athlete, Chris Miller has been at the heart of Denton High’s recent resurgence, anchoring a relay team to the state meet, adding depth to an already deep Bronco basketball squad and injecting the football team with some of the best speed and athleticism that they’ve seen in several seasons.

On Wednesday, he announced on Twitter that he has committed to play football at Colorado and for Miller, it represents the first step in what he hopes is a long, successful football career.

Denton against Grapevine

“I just feel like I trust in the coaches and in my own ability to prove that I can play at the next level,” Miller said. “I know it’s hard but I’ll be able to do it. They play a lot of man-on-man coverage and coach Mac [Mike MacIntyre] helped recruit [Darrell] Revis to the Jets, so he knows what he’s doing. He knows how to coach up good players and teach them how to act right.”

For the 9-3 Broncos, Miller served as a versatile dual-threat athlete, starting every game at defensive back and wide receiver. In his junior season, Miller pulled down 28 catches for 8 touchdowns and 572 yards, including the only touchdown in Denton’s 12-11 win over Grapevine in the opening round of the playoffs.

Recruited as an overall athlete, Miller expects to play defensive back and special teams for the Buffaloes, who went 4-9 in the Pac-12 last season. Miller turned down offers from Boise State, Missouri, Kansas, Houston, Iowa, Nevada, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Fresno State and North Texas and said that his relationship with the coaches, especially defensive backs coach Charles Clark, was one of the main reasons why he chose Colorado.

“I’ve been training a lot for DB and that’s best for me,” Miller said. “I’m really good size for a corner and I’m trying to play further than college and as a corner I can still score touchdowns. It’s good for me. I’m still going to play both positions for the Broncos and give both my all. Coaches noticed how athletic I am and coach Clark has been recruiting me since January. We have a really good relationship.”

Miller’s wide receivers coach Lonnie Teagle wasn’t surprised at all the looks he was getting and said his motivation is second to none.

“His athletic ability and his talent, we haven’t had a guy this athletic,” Teagle, who has been at Denton since 2012. “He’s so effective on both sides of the ball especially in special teams and he’s in great shape so he’s able to do it. As a receiver, he’s explosive and his ability to stretch the field with big-play ability and he can shut down the top threat on the other team as a corner. He’s intelligent and he’s physical, always coming up with tackles.”

Boasting a 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds, Miller has aspirations of advancing to the NFL and has been nurturing his speed for a long time.

This season on the Broncos’ track team, he advanced to the regional meet in all three of his events (100-meter dash, 400-meter relay and 800-meter relay), before helping the 800-meter relay claim a Class 5A Region I championship on the way to the state meet.

His speed will also be relied upon for his senior season, which Miller said will be important to his development and with Broncos’ losing their top wideout in Emerson Espinoza from last season, Miller will play both sides of the ball at corner and wide receiver.

“I really need to work on my technique and that’s what I’ve been working on this summer,” Miller said of his speed. “It never hurts to get your stamina up either. I think those sports gave me a big advantage. Track really helps me with my speed and quickness and basketball helps me get my hops up and my defense. I think I’ll be ready for Colorado. I know it’s going to take some hard work, but that’s what I’m ready to do.”

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.

Ryan hires Matt Buettner as new softball coach

Matt Buettner isn’t taking over a struggling Ryan program so that he can maybe turn it around in a few years. He wants to win now — and he has put a guarantee on it.

Buettner, who just finished his 10th season as the head baseball coach at Little Elm, is switching over to softball and says the Lady Raiders will end their four-year playoff drought next spring.

Buettner, 42, was approved as Ryan’s new head coach at Tuesday’s Denton school board meeting. He replaces Aimee Foutch, who stepped down in April after 13 seasons at the helm.

“I will tell you, and you can put this in [the paper] — we will make playoffs,” Buettner said. “We will win.”

Buettner led Little Elm to the second round of the playoffs this past season and is expecting an immediate return to success for Ryan. The Lady Raiders once competed for district titles and deep playoff runs every season, including a trip to the Class 4A state final in 2007.

But the program hasn’t been the same since moving to the state’s largest classification in 2013. In four seasons, the Lady Raiders won a combined 10 district games.

They’ll drop from Class 6A to Class 5A next season. Buettner’s oldest daughter, Abby, plays and will be a freshman at the school.

“He’s been a guy who has won, and he built that program up over at Little Elm,” Ryan football coach and athletic coordinator Dave Henigan said. “He has a heart for kids, and I think he’s going to build on what Aimee was able to do and get this team to another level.”

Though it doesn’t show in terms of playoff appearances — Little Elm’s latest playoff appearance was its first since 2002 — the Lobos came a long way in Buettner’s tenure after being in a position similar to what Ryan is in now.

“[Little Elm] hadn’t won 10 games in three years before I got there, so it was a total rebuild,” said Buettner, who with wife Stacey also has a younger daughter, Olivia, who is entering fourth grade. “They gave me time to build it the right way, and I’d like to think they are in a much better spot than before I got there.

Buettner has coached select softball with the Dallas Titans for the last three seasons, though the majority of his career has been on the baseball diamond. He was an assistant at Dallas Jesuit and Sherman before Little Elm, and he has coached in the Titans’ select baseball program for 22 years.

He said the chance to come to a program like Ryan — and be able to coach his daughter — was too good to pass up.

“It’s a huge perk,” Buettner said. “I’ve been a coach for a long time, and other coaches who have been in the same situation say there’s nothing like coaching your own child. It’s a huge opportunity and I couldn’t pass it up.

“Ryan has some good, young talent, and I want to continue the tradition that has been there. The sign out there that says ‘Home of Champions’ is not there for show.”

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

Krum assistant replacing Lucas at softball helm

Krum sophomore Morgan Sebastian (24) high-fives head coach Stacey Lucas after a home run against Melissa, Friday, May 13, 2016, at Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas. David Minton/DRC

Krum sophomore Morgan Sebastian (24) high-fives head coach Stacey Lucas after a home run against Melissa, Friday, May 13, 2016, at Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas. David Minton/DRC

Bryan Chaney has only two years of experience coaching high school softball, and they were 14 years apart.

But after leaving a job at Prosper, where he had coached football and baseball, to take the softball varsity assistant job at Krum this past season, Chaney will now take over the Lady Bobcats as head coach Stacey Lucas is stepping away from coaching but will remain as a teacher at Krum.

“Coach Lucas did a great job of preparing this team and building the program,” said Chaney, who was also a softball assistant in his first year in the business more than a decade ago at Maypearl. “Our girls have really bright futures. To have those sophomore and juniors coming back is going to be great. We have a really good core. Any coach would be excited to be taking over this group.”

Lucas led Krum to the Class 4A Region II final in 2015 and to the regional semifinal this past season behind a pair of star sophomores in pitcher Tristan Bridges and catcher Morgan Sebastian.

Lucas said she is stepping away from coaching to give herself a chance to watch her daughter compete in beach volleyball, which she said requires a lot of travel.

Chaney, who was the head baseball coach for two years at Maypearl and three years at Howe before serving as the varsity assistant at Prosper under legendary coach Rick Carpenter, made his return to softball this past season and helped lead Krum to the regional semifinal where it lost to Paris North Lamar.

“One of the things I found out quickly is softball and baseball are essentially the same game,” Chaney said. “It’s been a pretty easy transition and just like baseball, it’s all about pitching. You have that one girl, and if she’s dominant you can run her out there every day. If you have that dominant pitcher, you can win a lot of games. To have Tristan and, on the receiving end, Morgan, she’s a phenomenal catcher. It certainly helps a coach breathe a little easier knowing you have those two working together.”

Bridges and Sebastian will be just two of the six returning starters for Chaney’s first season at the helm as Krum lost shortstop Kaely Whatley and outfielders Ashley Landry and Hannah Carlson to graduation.

“All three of them will be tough to replace,” Chaney said. “They’ve been through the program for several years and you can’t beat experience. We have good, young girls behind them, but they’re going to be hard to replace.”

Krum athletic director Gary Robinson said he thinks Chaney will be able to continue the Lady Bobcats’ recent run of success.

“Coach Lucas has done a great job as far as winning district two years in a row and took us to regional championship last year and she’s done an outstanding job of bringing the program back to where it needs to be,” Robinson said. “Coach Chaney jumping in there, I don’t think he’ll miss a beat.”

 

 

 

 

Braswell hires Ryan assistant Ostrom to head softball program

Kasie Ostrom helped start a softball program from scratch when she played in college. Now she’s getting a chance to do it again as a head coach.

Ostrom, a Ryan graduate who was recruited to play on the inaugural team at Navarro College in 1999 before eventually finishing her career at TWU, has been named the head softball coach for the new Braswell High School opening this fall.

Ostrom spent the last 11 seasons as an assistant at Ryan. Before that, she was the head coach in Pilot Point for one year and led the Lady Bearcats to the state tournament.

Braswell is the Denton school district’s fourth high school.

“I have been a part of something like this before, getting to have the first of everything — the first win, hit, home run, season,” Ostrom said. “I knew [Denton ISD] would open up a new school eventually, and those were the memories that came into my mind.

“I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to open a new school.”

Ostrom jumped at the chance to be an assistant at Ryan under Aimee Foutch, who stepped down in April after 13 seasons at the helm. Ryan missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season, but before that Foutch and Ostrom had the Lady Raiders competing for district titles and deep playoff runs practically every season.

That included a run to the Class 4A state final in 2007, where Ryan lost to Boerne.

It was Ostrom’s second trip to a state tournament as a coach. In 2005, she led Pilot Point to the state semifinals in her first coaching job out of college.

Ostrom said all of those experiences helped put her in this position, and she’s ready to hit the ground running with her new school.

“I loved everything about playing and coaching at Ryan, but you never know when you are going to have an opportunity like this come up again,” Ostrom said. “I want to start my own traditions, build something from the ground up and set the bar as high as I can without following in anyone else’s footsteps.”

Argyle quarterback Dane Ledford commits to Tulane

Argyle quarterback Dane Ledford (2) scrambles near the goal line during a high school football game at Argyle High School Stadium in Argyle, Texas on November 6, 2015.  Photos by Michael Clements.

Argyle quarterback Dane Ledford (2) scrambles near the goal line during a high school football game at Argyle High School Stadium in Argyle, Texas on November 6, 2015. Photos by Michael Clements.

It took one season as Argyle’s starting quarterback for Dane Ledford to catch the eye of college coaches. One of those programs recognized he can do more than just throw passes, and jumped at the chance to make an offer.

Ledford, who will be a senior in the fall, verbally committed to Tulane on Monday after receiving an offer from the Green Wave over the weekend.

It was his first offer, though the 6-0, 180-pound signal caller said he received interest from SMU, Texas State, Southern Illinois, Air Force and Kansas State.

Tulane is recruiting him to play quarterback, wide receiver, or free safety.

“I’m fine with any of those. I’m just trying to help the team any way I can,” Ledford said. “If quarterback doesn’t work out, I’ve got a few backup options for them to try me at. It’s a great opportunity.”

Verbal commitments are nonbinding. The first day a class of 2017 recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1.

Tulane came in heavy with its interest over the past month in Ledford, who has started at all three positions at various points during his high school career. He threw for 2,820 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2015 while leading the Eagles to the Class 4A Division I state title game. He also rushed for six scores.

As a sophomore, he started at free safety and wide receiver and was the team’s backup quarterback. He racked up 97 tackles, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and five interceptions that year.

He has started in two state title games and was a backup during Argyle’s run to its Class 3A state title in 2013.

“Dane is a good athlete, and he excels in multiple track events as well,” Argyle coach Todd Rodgers said. “We know what he can do on a football field, and with all those being said, that gives a wide spectrum of evaluations for college coaches.

“He takes his leadership skills and training very seriously.”

Ledford said he has been eyeing Tulane for a long time, and beyond having the chance to continue playing football, he is heavy into academics and plans to study pre-med.

“I could get more offers from other schools, but I don’t think I will find any place better than Tulane,” Ledford said. “I get to play football, but I also want to concentrate on school, and this gives me the chance to do that.”

 

Ryan’s Robinson commits to SMU

Ryan junior defensive back Delano Robinson (10) celebrates after recovering a fumble against Justin Northwest, Thursday, October 29, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

Ryan junior defensive back Delano Robinson (10) celebrates after recovering a fumble against Justin Northwest, Thursday, October 29, 2015, at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex in Denton, TX. David Minton/DRC

In 2014, Delano Robinson was on a Ryan team that finished 5-5 to snap a 14-year playoff streak. The next year, Robinson and the Raiders won 13 games and are now seen as state title contenders.

Robinson took a lot of pride in spurring Ryan’s resurgence. He believes the same thing is happening at SMU, and on Friday verbally committed to the Mustangs.

“When we went 5-5, that put a bad taste in our mouth,” Robinson said. “I liked being a part of rebuilding something. Nothing has been given to me, and I believe that everything is a process. SMU is a program that is building something special.”

Verbal commitments are nonbinding. The first day a class of 2017 recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1.

On a defense full of stars, Robinson appeared to have been a relative unknown in the recruiting world until the last month or so. Including his offer from SMU, which he announced via his Twitter account on May 10, he also received offers from Texas-San Antonio, Bucknell, Air Force and Stephen F. Austin.

Part of the appeal is that Robinson is so versatile. At 6-1, 190, he predominately plays safety for Ryan, but he’s so physical that he can also step in at linebacker. Robinson said he is being looked at by SMU to play either position.

Last year, he racked up 125 tackles, 10 for loss, with two sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and five pass breakups.

“The big thing is his physicality,” Ryan coach Dave Henigan said. “When he makes a tackle, it’s not just a tackle, it’s a violent hit. A lot of guys who have seen that from him feel like it will transition well to the next level. And I have no doubt it will.”

Robinson said he made his commitment while visiting the SMU campus Friday morning. He said it was an easy decision, and a load off his shoulders.

“When I spoke to coach [Chad] Morris, he asked if I wanted to be a part of a rebuilding program where I have a chance to be a big part of that success. I started thinking about it and that definitely means something to me.

“You should want to drive for something. This is very exciting, and it means a lot.”

Lake Dallas-ex Tauaefa named UTSA starter at MLB

Lake Dallas senior defensive lineman Josiah Tauaefa(45) wraps up Dallas Kimball junior quarterback Ryan Ross (6), Friday, September 19, 2014, in Corinth, TX. David Minton/DRC

Lake Dallas senior defensive lineman Josiah Tauaefa(45) wraps up Dallas Kimball junior quarterback Ryan Ross (6), Friday, September 19, 2014, in Corinth, TX. David Minton/DRC

Josiah Tauaefa was quite the wrecker in high school as a defensive standout for Lake Dallas, and he also was known to moonlight as a red zone machine at tight end for the Falcons.

Now, as a redshirt freshman at UTSA, it appears Tauaefa is making quite the impact. Not only did Tauaefa make the move to middle linebacker for the Roadrunners, he had such a great spring that he was sitting atop the post-spring depth chart that was released on Tuesday afternoon on an “or” basis, meaning, regardless, he’ll play.

Josiah Tauaefa was the third Tauaefa brother to star on defense for the Falcons, as his older brothers Isaac (UTEP) and Josh (Minnesota) both signed with FBS programs, as well. The youngest Tauaefa brother was named Defensive MVP of the Falcons’ district after his junior and senior seasons.

Ryan grad, Guerra, turns in solid debut in call up to Angels

May 6, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Javy Guerra (40) pitches during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

May 6, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Javy Guerra (40) pitches during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Former Ryan pitcher Javy Guerra is back in the major leagues. He was called up Friday by the Los Angeles Angels to help offset a myriad of injuries to its pitching staff.

He pitched two innings in relief that night against Tampa Bay, striking out three without allowing a hit.

Guerra was drafted in the fourth round by the Dodgers out of Ryan in 2004 and also had a stint with the Chicago White Sox before serving a 50-game drug suspension. Guerra has pitched in 147 major league games with 30 saves in six major league seasons.

Guerra, 30, performed well as a member of the Angels’ Triple-A Salt Lake bullpen. He posted a 2.19 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 12.1 innings with Salt Lake. In his relief effort Friday, he came in with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning but managed to get out of the jam unscathed.

Former Ryan linebacker Alex De La Torre plans move to coaching ranks

Waco Midway junior quarterback Jordan Darling (16) is slammed by Denton Ryan senior defensive lineman Dominique Banks (16), and senior linebacker Alex De La Torre (33), Friday, November 25, 2011, at Vernon Newsom Stadium in Mansfield, Texas. (DAVID MINTON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Waco Midway junior quarterback Jordan Darling (16) is slammed by Denton Ryan senior defensive lineman Dominique Banks (16), and senior linebacker Alex De La Torre (33), Friday, November 25, 2011, at Vernon Newsom Stadium in Mansfield, Texas. (DAVID MINTON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

During last year’s NFL Draft, the Ryan football faithful was busy celebrating two former players as Mario Edwards Jr. and Bud Sasser were drafted by the Raiders and Rams, respectively. This year, that same legion of fans are celebrating another Ryan graduate — but for slightly different reasons.

Former linebacker Alex De La Torre, who had a standout collegiate career at Texas, announced this morning that he has decided to pursue a coaching career.

De La Torre went undrafted in this weekend’s NFL Draft, and was not signed to an undrafted free agent deal. He announced his decision via his Twitter account.

 

De La Torre, whose dad Aaron De La Torre was a former defensive coach at Ryan before moving on to Irving, graduated from Ryan following the 2011 season and went on to play fullback for the Longhorns. He played in 11 games last season and announced his plans to enter this year’s draft.

It was the second straight year that Ryan had former players in the mix to possibly make it to the NFL. Edwards is currently in the league with Oakland after being taken 35th overall in the 2015 draft. Sasser was eventually cut by the Rams due to a pre-existing heart condition.

While things didn’t work out in terms of an NFL career, De La Torre clearly wants to give back to the sport he has excelled in for so many years by following in his father’s footsteps.

 

 

Volleyball: Argyle’s Van Poppel commits to Division I Belmont

Argyle junior Halee Van Poppel (9) tips the ball over the net against Decatur junior Autumn Fuller (11), Tuesday, September 22, 2015, in Argyle, TX. David Minton/DRC

Argyle junior Halee Van Poppel (9) tips the ball over the net against Decatur junior Autumn Fuller (11), Tuesday, September 22, 2015, in Argyle, TX. David Minton/DRC

Halee Van Poppel knew she didn’t have to go out of state to play college volleyball, but there was always a part of her that was intrigued by the idea.

Argyle’s junior outside hitter orally committed to Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday, giving the Lady Eagles — the defending Class 4A state champs — four players who have signed with or committed to a Division I program this school year.

“I’m excited for all of us,” Van Poppel said. “Playing Division I volleyball is not too big [a stage] for me. I knew God had a plan, and this is the best place for me.

“I always imagined myself doing something different by going out of state.”

Oral commitments are nonbinding. The first day a class of 2017 recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Nov. 9.

Argyle has been an active recruiting target this year. Beyond Van Poppel, seniors Eighmy Dobbins (Texas Tech) and Alexa Bass (Oral Roberts) have already signed. Junior Allison White committed to Texas Tech on Feb. 10.

Dobbins, who originally committed to Division I Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before switching to the Red Raiders, and Bass were two of four Lady Eagles who took part in the early signing period in November.

Seniors Strealy Sizelove (Dallas Baptist) and Melanie Carlisle (Henderson State) were two Division II signees in November. Senior Emma Malone committed last week to Division II West Texas A&M, bringing the total number of signings and commitments to seven.

Head coach Clark Oberle said there are likely more to come.

“It brings a lot of credibility to 4A volleyball, that’s for sure,” Oberle said. “I’m excited because I know how much all these girls love to play.”

Oberle said he is excited to have Van Poppel back, and her role is expected to expand after two standout seasons on varsity. In 2015, Van Poppel racked up 182 kills and a .353 hitting percentage despite being injured early in the season.

“[Halee] is super athletic, she has a great vertical jump and I will definitely use her in all six rotations for us next season,” Oberle said. “I expect big things from her.”

Belmont competes in the Ohio Valley Conference, and Van Poppel said she is being looked at for back row and as an outside hitter.

“I play six rotations for my club team Texas Image,” Van Poppel said. “That’s where Belmont was able to see me play the most, and they said I have the potential to play in several spots on the floor.

“It’s not a huge school, but I really liked it. They are also big into academics, which is extremely important to me. I also know I don’t have to deal with the stress of having to make a college decision during my senior year. I’m good now.”

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.