Sam Houston

“What are we going to learn from this?”

This was head coach Augie Garrido’s question for his Texas Longhorns team after Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to Sam Houston State. The Longhorns fell behind early and failed to record a hit through the first four innings in their final tune-up before the highly anticipated weekend series at Stanford.

While Garrido was unsure of whether his players were thinking ahead about the games against the Cardinals, he said that he is looking for consistency and focus from his team in every game, regardless of the opponent.

“We have to play well as a team and we have to play consistently, pitch to pitch, inning by inning to be consistent,” Garrido said. “We can’t just throw our gloves out on the field and flash our logos at them and have them fall apart.”

Sam Houston came out with notable intensity and took an early lead on an RBI triple by Ryan O’Hearn and a run-scoring groundout by Kevin Miller. In the fourth inning, Spence Rahm hit a home run over the left-field wall to extend Sam Houston’s lead to 3-0.

The Longhorns cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI triple by Matt Moynihan and an RBI groundout by Taylor Stell, but the Bearkats answered in the top of the seventh with a pair of RBIs by Colt Atwood and Anthony Azar. Mark Payton, who went 3-4 to raise his season average to .536, would drive in a run on a triple to left centerfield in the eighth inning, but that would be all for the Texas offense.

Sophomore Cameron Cox ran into trouble in his first career start with Texas, allowing three runs on three hits in four innings. Conversely, Sam Houston starter Tyler Eppler was nearly untouchable through the first five innings and held Texas to just four hits and two runs in 5.2 innings.

Texas’ players were disappointed following the loss, as they believe that the Tuesday games are just as important as any other game during the season.

“These were the games that really hurt us last year in the long run,” Payton said. “You can’t take any game lightly no matter who you are playing. All these Tuesday games really do a mean a thing.”

The Longhorns will look to rebound this weekend against No. 14 Stanford. The Cardinals are 6-2 on the season and are a perfect 4-0 at home.

Published on February 27, 2013 as "Offense falters against SHSU". 

(Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

The $25 million project to restore the historic Texas Governor’s Mansion is almost complete, four years after the building was nearly destroyed in a fire started by an unknown arsonist.

Gov. Rick Perry’s office said Wednesday that pieces of the mansion’s historic furniture collection are being moved back into the building. Perry and his family are expected to return in late July.

Located a block from the state Capitol grounds in downtown Austin, the two-story Greek-revival mansion has been the home of every Texas governor, including Sam Houston and George W. Bush, since it was completed in 1856.

Perry moved in when he took office in late 2000, and he and his family moved out in 2007 for a $10 million renovation project to upgrade mechanical systems, including fire alarms, sprinkler systems, plumbing and wiring. The mansion was severely damaged in June 2008 when police say a person threw a Molotov cocktail that landed near the front door and ignited the building. Parts of the roof collapsed, and the majestic columns at the front of the mansion were charred. No one was injured.

Most of the original interior was damaged by smoke. But the historic furniture collection, including the bed used by Houston and Stephen F. Austin’s writing desk, were not damaged because they had already been removed.

The collection is owned by the non-profit Friends of the Governor’s Mansion. Historic chandeliers were installed on the first floor last week, Perry’s office said.

Authorities have made no arrests in the case despite a $50,000 reward offered by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Investigators have released surveillance video and a sketch of the person they believe started the blaze.

Part of the restoration project focused on enhancing security, including installing a new surveillance system, reinforced perimeter walls and new gates and guardhouses.

Perry and his wife Anita have been living in a $10,000-a-month leased home away from the downtown area during the restoration project. Anita Perry has been leading the effort to raise nearly $3.5 million in private money for the restoration project.

The mansion “has been a symbol of Texas pride and resilience for decades,” Anita Perry said.

Before the Civil War, Houston paced the hallways as he worried about seceding from the union. Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the first woman to be governor of Texas, built a chicken coop in the backyard. And Gov. Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel served barbecue on the grounds to 20,000 of his supporters in 1941 to celebrate his re-election.

Gov. John Connally recuperated at the mansion from a gunshot wound suffered in the attack on President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade in Dallas. Gov. Ann Richards hosted England’s Queen Elizabeth II there in the early 1990s.

Texas welcomes another top recruiting class this fall, full of players from the Austin, Dallas and Houston areas.

The two major metropolitan areas, plus the state capital, send recruits to the University year in and year out and are usually well represented on the Longhorns’ roster. This year, however, another large city will be well represented in the recruiting class — San Antonio.

“Our city [has] grown quite a bit in the last 10 years,” said Lee Bridges, head football coach at Stevens High School in San Antonio. “There are a lot more good players here than most people think.”

Out of 22 commitments that signed with Texas on Wednesday, three hail from the San Antonio area, a higher number than usual. Malcolm Brown is a five-star recruit from Byron P. Steele High in Cibolo, a small town right outside the San Antonio city limits. Mykkele Thompson was a premier rushing quarterback for Stevens High School in San Antonio. The third San Antonio-area recruit, Quincy Russell, is an agile defensive tackle from Sam Houston High School.

The level of individual performance and team accomplishments has increased over the past 10 years for San Antonio-area schools. Last season, Byron Steele High School won the 5A Division II State Championship.

“This was a great year for San Antonio football,” said Mike Jinks, head coach at Steele. “These kids did a great job ... They did what they needed to do to get a victory.”

The champion athletes at Steele are not an anomaly. The level of athleticism there represents the general level of competition across San Antonio.

“It’s a lot of competition. There’s no football like Texas football,” Brown said. “It’s been a hard run. There [are] so many great teams out there [in the San Antonio area] and just to compete with them makes you that much better.”

While Brown comes from an award-winning program, Quincy Russell may be the spark his school needs to produce more scholarship athletes in the years ahead. Russell became the first football player in the history of Sam Houston and the San Antonio Independent School District to be named a U.S. Army All-American. He is also the first from his school in a long time to go to a university as well-known as Texas. Russell’s scholarship is monumental to a school that faced closure at the beginning of last year.

“We have a lot of young juniors and sophomores that are going to follow in his footsteps,” said Gary Green, head coach at Sam Houston. “He’s a flagship ... he’s the first.”

Aside from an increase in talent level, a general economic boom has seen a large number of immigrants to San Antonio, and more people means more high school students.

“[The] San Antonio area has really grown leaps and bounds over the last four or five years,” Jinks said. “I know that we have signed 34 guys to Division 1 scholarships [this year from San Antonio] ... if you looked back 5 or 10 years ago then that just wasn’t there.”

Expect many more recruits out of the San Antonio area in years to come. This region is a hotbed of individual talent that is fueled by intense coaching and high levels of competition. Who knows, maybe the next Tyler Rose will be a San Antonio native.