Every basketball team in the state of Texas wants to No. 1.

In March, mind you. At the start of February? That’s nice, but it’s not the endgame.

That’s the way University coach Rodney Smith views it, anyway.

Smith’s Trojans ascended to the No. 1 spot in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Class 5A rankings this week. University’s senior-sprinkled team, headed by hotshot point guard Umoja Gibson, features a 22-8 overall record and an 8-0 mark in District 18-5A. The Trojans have lost only once this year to a Class 5A opponent.

“(The No. 1 ranking) is great notoriety for University High School and Waco ISD, and for Waco in general,” Smith said. “It means that people think a lot about you and your basketball team. But when it comes down to it, it puts a pretty big target on your back.”

Fortunately, Smith’s squad continues to approach each game with vigor. They know they have a special team on their hands, and they don’t want to waste the opportunity.

Their goal — reach the state tourney in San Antonio and be No. 1 on March 11.

“This class has a chance to be three-time district champs, but I think they’ve got a good idea of the big picture we’ve painted,” Smith said. “We’d love to be district champs again, but there’s more on the table for the University Trojans.”

Other Central Texas boys’ teams ranked in the TABC poll are Coolidge at No. 24 in Class 1A, Teague at No. 7 in 3A and Vanguard at No. 2 in TAPPS 4A. Girls’ teams denting the poll include Blum at No. 20 in 1A, Teague at No. 21 in 3A, Gatesville at No. 18 in 4A and Midway at No. 20 in 6A.

Valley Mills promotes Moody to head coach

Valley Mills promoted from within to fill its athletic director/head football coach job. The school district unanimously approved the hiring of Sam Moody to fill those roles at a board meeting on Tuesday.

Moody has worked for Valley Mills ISD for five years, serving as defensive coordinator under now-departed coach Eric Blenden as well as the head coach for boys’ basketball and track and field. He said he thinks his familiarity with the players will make for a smooth transition.

“It helps a lot,” Moody said. “The kids have really bought into what we’re doing, and that’s the biggest thing. If you can get the kids to buy in, it makes all the difference.”

Blenden, who coached Valley Mills for three seasons, was approved as Axtell’s new head coach and AD in January.

In a release, Valley Mills superintendent Judi Whitis said that Moody was “everything we were looking to find in an athletic director and head football coach.”

Valley Mills will host a meet-and-greet reception for Moody from 5-6 p.m. Wednesday in the high school cafeteria.

HS Football Hall of Fame tickets on sale

Tickets are on sale for the 2017 Texas High School Football Hall of Fame banquet, which will feature “Mean” Joe Greene and Dat Nguyen, among others.

Tickets are $45 for adults and $15 for students for the banquet, which is May 6 at the Ferrell Center. They may be purchased by contacting Tiffany Wilkins at tiffnjake@hotmail.com or (210) 290-8570.

The class is highlighted by Greene, who played his high school ball at Temple Dunbar before becoming a Pro Football Hall of Famer with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Nguyen, a Rockport-Fulton product who also starred for Texas A&M and in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys.

It also includes Big Sandy’s Lovie Smith, McKinney’s Tommy Joe Crutcher, San Antonio Holmes’ Johnny Walker, Lufkin’s Reggie McNeal, Euless Trinity’s Steve Lineweaver, Arlington Lamar’s Eddy Peach and Converse Judson’s Frank Arnold.

The Gordon Wood Award and Tom Landry Award will also be presented at the banquet, and the 2016 state championship high school coaches will be honored.

NFL Network casting spotlight on Yoemen

Cameron Yoe’s moment in the Super Sunday spotlight is coming.

The NFL Network will premiere a feature on the Yoe football program at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Producer Stephen Palgon and his crew spent three days in Cameron at the end of November and start of December conducting interviews and filming footage for the piece.

The Yoemen were chosen as the subject of the feature for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the program’s success, which included three straight state championships from 2012-14. But the close-knit community and its passion for football also was a selling point.

“Maybe we should have focused on a kid, but our story was about the community and how much Fridays mean to it,” Palgon told the Temple Daily Telegram. “It was a form of church and coming together and I felt grateful to be there.”

NFL Network is available locally on these channels: Time Warner Cable 310; Grande cable 224 or 920; DirecTV 212; Dish Network 154.

Former Connally players recognized

During the 1950s, the Connally girls’ basketball program put together one of the most successful runs in the program’s history.

This past Tuesday night, Connally paid tribute to their contributions.

Before Connally’s home game with China Spring on Tuesday, the school honored 19 women who played on Lady Cadet teams between 1952 and 1957. In the 1953 season, Connally won the consolation title at the state tournament and in ‘54 the Lady Cadets finished fourth in the state.

Each woman was presented with a rose and a photo collage from those seasons.

The group included Verline Abbott (1952-54), Mary Ann Strahan (1952-54), Evelyn West 1952-55), Mildred McKelroy (1953-57), Margie Linam (1953-57), Dixie Leonard (1956-57), JoAnn Crawford (1952-54), Mary Ann Davis (1953-57), Meredith Rogers (1952-54), Susie Nelson (1952-54), Audrey Meixner (1952-56, named state MVP in ‘54), Nell Wiley (1953-55), Gay Golding 1953-57, Linda Rogas (1953-57), Ruby Moye (1953-55), JoAnn Hurst (1953-55), Betty Rogas (1952-53), Martha Sue Hayman (1952-53), Margie Bolfing (1952-53) and head coach Dan Lair.

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