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Victoria's Zappe winner of 9th annual Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award
  • Updated

“Bailey Zappe makes me happy” was a catch phrase that circled the college football world.

On Wednesday night, that’s how Christian Campbell announced the gunslinging, record-setting quarterback from Western Kentucky as the winner of the Ninth Annual Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award during a gala at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler.

“Growing up in Texas, playing football in Texas my whole life, I heard stories about Earl Campbell,” Zappe said. “What an honor to be associated with Earl Campbell. I am so thankful.”

The eldest son of the legendary Earl Campbell did the honors via Zoom as his dad was unable to attend the annual event due to COVID concerns.

Jessica T. Payne/

Tyler Morning Telegraph 

From left, Sincere McCormick of UTSA, Bailey Zappe of Western Kentucky, and Deuce Vaughn of Kansas State smile for a photo while attending the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Ceremony on Wednesday. The three were Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award finalists along with Abram Smith of Baylor and Garrett Wilson of Ohio State.

Zappe, a graduate of Victoria East High School in Victoria, was a finalist along with UTSA junior running back Sincere McCormick (Judson High School, Converse); Baylor senior running back Abram Smith (Abilene HS, Abilene); Kansas State sophomore running back Deuce Vaughn (Cedar Ridge HS, Round Rock); and Ohio State junior wide receiver Garrett Wilson (Lake Travis HS, Austin).

PHOTO GALLERY: Meet and greet, press interviews

Zappe, along with McCormick and Vaughn, were in attendance, while Smith was represented by his father and Wilson was represented by his mother.

“I’m honored to present the award to Bailey Zappe,” Earl Campbell said in a statement. “All of these players had incredible seasons. They all deserved their place as a finalist.”

Zappe is the seventh quarterback to win the award.  

The voting committee co-chaired by Kirk Bohls, Austin Statesman, and Phil Hicks, Tyler Morning Telegraph, included 44 broadcasters, commentators, and journalists from across the country as well as fans and the previous winners.

The Hilltopper, who has declared for the NFL Draft, set a record of 62 touchdown passes (breaking LSU’s Joe Burrow record of 60 in 2019) and for yardage (5,987, breaking Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons’ mark of 5,833 in 2003).

Jessica T. Payne/Tyler Morning Telegraph 

Brian Jones serves as emcee at the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Banquet on Wednesday. The event took place at the Willow Brook Country Club.

Brian Jones, former Texas Longhorn linebacker and CBS TV and Radio host, served as master of ceremony.

Cindy Smoak, SPORTyler executive director, welcomed the attendees as well as Kelsi Weeks, chair of SPORTyler. The invocation was by Lee Browning, Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce chair.

Richard Soloman, Earl Campbell Scholarship Committee member, introduced Josafat Covarrubia, a Bishop Gorman graduate, as the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Scholarship Recipient. A Chemical Engineering major just completed his first semester at the University of Texas at Austin.

“The Earl Campbell High School Scholarship is a blessing for my family and I, as well as a motivation to continue striving to achieve my education goals,” Covarrubia said.

Jessica T. Payne/Tyler Morning Telegraph 

(From left) Councilman Broderick McGee, SPORTyler Executive Director Cindy Smoak, and Mayor Don Warren smile for a photo at the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Ceremony on Wednesday at the Willow Brook Country Club.

Sponsors of the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award include: City of Tyler, BMW of Tyler, Brookshire Grocery Company, Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System, Clements Fluids Management, LLC, Patterson Commercial Property Group, R.W. Fair Foundation, Southside Bank, TDI Air Conditioning/James and Sharon Wynne, Ted W. Walters, Austin Bank, Prothro, Wilhelmi & Co., Tyler Morning Telegraph, American State Bank, Texas Bank and Trust, Tyler Junior College, and the University of Texas at Tyler.

The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, announced in 2012 by the Tyler Chamber and SPORTyler, recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community, and tenacity; specifically tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals.

In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four year DI Texas college.

Jessica T. Payne/Tyler Morning Telegraph 

Guests enjoy dinner at the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Banquet at the Willow Brook Country Club on Wednesday.

Previous winners include:

2013 — Bryce Petty, Baylor junior quarterback (Midlothian HS, Midlothian); 2014 — Trevone Boykin, TCU junior quarterback (West Mesquite HS, Dallas); 2015 — Greg Ward Jr., Houston junior quarterback (John Tyler HS, Tyler); 2016 — D’Onta Foreman, Texas junior running back (Texas City HS, Texas City); 2017 — Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma senior quarterback (Lake Travis HS, Austin); 2018 — Kyler Murray, Oklahoma junior quarterback (Allen HS, Allen); 2019 — J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State junior running back (LaGrange HS, LaGrange; 2020 — Kyle Trask, Florida senior quarterback (Manvel HS, Manvel).

Community gathers at candlelight prayer for missing 21-year-old father
  • Updated

Marcus Daniel Rodriguez’s parents, sisters, friends and family gathered at the square in downtown Tyler to pray for him to come home.

Marcus Daniel Rodriguez

The community showed up in support of the family at a candlelight vigil on Tuesday night in support of Rodriguez, 21, was last seen at a Tyler apartment complex two days before Christmas.

The family’s pastor and church members were also in attendance, as the pastor led a prayer for God to wrap his arms around Rodriguez and to bring him home to his family.

At the candlelight prayer, Rodriguez’s family said words of hope, although it was hard for them to speak. His father made sure he hugged almost everyone he came across to thank them for their efforts in joining in prayer for his son.

According to a Facebook page titled “Bring Marcus Home,” the prayer was open to the public and held to ask God for Rodriguez’s safe return. The social media page is dedicated to search efforts and information related to the Rodriguez’s disappearance. Search parties have recently gathered on Old Jacksonville Highway near the apartments where Rodriguez was last seen.

rtorres / Raquel Torres/Tyler Morning Telegraph 

People pray during Tuesday night’s candlelight prayer service in downtown Tyler. The vigil was held in support of the family of Marcus Daniel Rodriguez, who has been missing since Dec. 23.

Rodriguez was last seen nearly three weeks ago, his family said, and was wearing a Polo T-shirt, navy or black shorts, long white socks and black Polo slides with a red logo. The family is also sharing his tattoos to help the general public identify him if he’s seen. Rodriguez has the word “blessed” tattooed on his left arm. He is a father to two children, a boy and a girl, and has each of their names tattooed on each side of his neck, both names beginning with the letter A.

The family said they will be gathering at the square every Tuesday for a candlelight prayer until Rodriguez returns home.

Andy Erbaugh, Tyler police public information officer, told Tyler Morning Telegraph’s news partners at CBS19 that police officers and detectives have searched the apartment complex he was last seen at, wooded areas near the area and places that family members have suggested.

“Any information or tips may be helpful to our detectives,” Erbaugh told CBS19. “We’ve had numerous detectives working on it.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Tyler Police Department at 903-531-1025.

View more photos from the event here.

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East Texas emergency rooms see 'influx of patients' as COVID testing in high demand
  • Updated

As COVID-19 cases in area counties continue to skyrocket, East Texas emergency rooms are seeing an influx of patients in need of treatment and COVID testing.

Patients have been going to emergency facilities to get tested for COVID, as a surge of contagious omicron cases has local pharmacies backed up with test appointments. Some don’t have availability for at least a week out, resulting in a lack of readily available COVID testing options. At-home rapid tests are also in short supply or out of stock in stores.

The demand has forced local ERs to now limit testing capabilities and test only symptomatic patients in order to continue to treat emergent patients.

UT Health’s emergency room in Tyler has seen about 20 patients walk in with COVID-like symptoms within only a 10-hour period, officials said this week. At Tyler Complete Care, about 50 to 55 patients are visiting each day, which is up 20% more than the normal winter rate. Brad Robertson, medical director at Tyler Complete Care, said most of the patients have come in with COVID symptoms. Hospitality Health ER in Longview also said its facility has seen a “rapid influx” of patients coming in since the day after Christmas.

“We’re there to rule out and treat life-threatening emergencies, and if patients feel like they have an emergency, we’re going to see them and we’re going to treat them, but as far as… (COVID) testing ... that’s… not our role. That’s not what we should be doing,” said Chris Hable, ER physician with UT Health. He added it would be great to have an adequate number of home testing available at area stores. From his experience, people come into the ER and just want to know, “Do I have this virus or do I not?”

Hospitality Health ER — Longview clarified in a statement that it is not a COVID testing site. Although the facility is testing patients, resources are being used on those who are symptomatic and in need of ER treatment. Health officials are still caring for other medical emergencies amid this surge, the facility said in a statement. Robertson, at Tyler Complete Care, said the facility also makes it clear it is not a testing center, but it does evaluate people with acute symptoms and determine whether it’s COVID, the flu or something else.

Patients at UT Health East Texas are tested and billed as an ER visit. However, Hable said on Tuesday, the hospital notified staff to begin limit testing and will no longer test those who are asymptomatic.

When it comes to other emergencies, the Trauma-1 Level Center continues to receive patients from outlying facilities within the region, Hable said. Patients who come in the ER simply to get information, or confirm if they do or do not have COVID, are affecting the system.

“It takes resources. It takes techs to collect the samples, it takes nurses to evaluate, get vital signs, it creates a slowing down of the system and it makes it hard to be efficient with getting everybody, and really with true emergencies, taken care of in a timely manner,” Hable said.

Since tests are becoming more scarce and limits are now being implemented, Hable said in general, the ER may not be the best place for patients with a mild illness.

“You may present to the emergency room with a cold-like symptom and it may be COVID. What is your therapy? Supportive care. There’s this idea that when you show up, I’m going to give you several medicines and you’re going to get better. Unfortunately, science doesn’t show that yet,” Hable said.

He added the ER is not turning people away when they’re scared, frightened and worried.

“We’ve continued to come to work despite this pandemic and we’re taking care of the sick, the really sick from the disease virus and those who are just mildly ill, and by doing so, we’re putting our livelihood at risk, but that’s what we’re called to do,” Hable said.

During the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Hable said patients weren’t coming to ERs due to fear they could get ill.

“I think that some of that fear has waned and now, people are just like, ‘I just want to know,’” Hable said.

Now in the third year of the pandemic, Hable said patients are feeling sick, but less are being hospitalized. Most patients, he said, are discharged because symptoms are not severe enough to require hospitalization.

At Tyler Complete Care, Robertson said patients are presenting primarily upper respiratory symptoms, including congestion, cough, sore throat, fever and body aches. At Hospitality Health, patients show the same and others develop blood clots, while some feel like they have the flu. The facility is testing for COVID, as well as other respiratory illnesses, to narrow down treatment plans for each patient.

Robertson said at Tyler Complete Care, physicians have recently had to prescribe the COVID antiviral pill, however, the biggest issue is finding pharmacies that have it in stock.

Hable said patients presented more sickness in the last COVID wave, primarily due to the delta variant. Those delta patients often required oxygen supplementation to support them. As of Tuesday, Hable said only a few patients have presented with pneumonia and who are oxygen-dependent.

He added the majority of cases seen are in those who are unvaccinated, and are often more severe. He said younger and healthy individuals are among the latest demographics of positive cases. In addition, UT Health East Texas’ ER has seen an 8-week-old baby with COVID in the past few weeks.

“It doesn’t spare, unfortunately. This variant, what we know right now, is more infectious than with previous variants at this point,” Hable said. He added when it comes to families, the virus is spreading across multiple people.

Robertson added that while omicron is more contagious and more people are getting the disease, it doesn’t seem to be quite as taxing on ICU beds. Staff at his facility, he said, are working overtime and are being offered extra hours if people are able to help through the busy times.

“I think, for the most part… COVID is a self-limiting illness,” Robertson said. “By treating the symptoms with Tylenol, ibuprofen for fever, cough and cold medicines as needed over the counter, most people do just fine with that. If the patient has other medical problems or risk factors… or if someone is feeling especially ill, meaning short of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, et cetera, those are probably indications that they need to be seen and evaluated, not only for COVID, but for what else might be going on.”

Will Knous, spokesperson for Christus Trinity Mother Frances and Christus Good Shepherd, said both facilities are seeing an increase in COVID-19, though they have not seen a surge in severe disease.

“While it is too soon to draw conclusions on the long-term risks and effects of omicron, this variant appears to be highly transmissible but less likely to cause lower respiratory tract symptoms and severe disease,” Knous said. He added that though there is much to be learned about omicron and other variants, effective tools against COVID-19 remain the same.

“Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Wash your hands often. Practice social distancing. Stay home if you are sick,” he said.

Longview Regional Medical Center said in a statement the facility has also seen an increase in COVID-19 patients due to the most recent variant surge.

“We continually monitor our census and bed availability because it can change at any time as patients are admitted or discharged. We cannot stress enough how important it is for our community to continue to practice the guidelines suggested by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Practice social distancing, thorough and frequent hand washing, disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, and stay home except when in need of medical care,” LRMC said in the statement.

Bible verse: 1.13.22

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26-27)