Heart of Texas six-man districts begin to take shape under the Friday night lights
With Class 1A, Division I’s third-ranked Jonesboro and Class 1A, DII’s sixth-ranked Strawn headlining the Heart of Texas six-man contingent among the state’s Top 10 rankings, several other area teams are climbing the ladder and attracting attention.
There’s nothing else quite like six-man football and the way people rally around it in the small towns in which it’s played. And this season in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, high school football fans have taken notice more than ever before.
Class 1A football often gets lost in the shadows of the big 11-man schools. But with the staggered start to the 2020 Texas high school football season, the Heart of Texas area continues to feature a host of marquee matchups as the season moves into Week 4 under the Friday night lights.
But unfortunately, when COVID-19 strikes in one of these small towns, it can have a debilitating effect, as several teams stand on the brink of cancelling their entire seasons due to the pandemic.
MORGAN 74, BYNUM 29
BYNUM – Senior Derik Davenport scored nine touchdowns as the Class 1A, Division II 24th-ranked Morgan Eagles soared past Class 1A, DI Bynum, 74-29, on the road last Friday night.
Davenport delivered a spectacular overall performance, passing for 202 yards and four touchdowns, rushing for 133 yards and three scores, catching a 29-yards touchdown pass, and returning a kickoff 49-yard for a score, while forcing two fumbles, recovering two fumbles and collecting 10 tackles
“The Eagles offense seemed to really click tonight and made some spectacular catches and plays,” Morgan head coach Edward Aviles said. “Senior Derik Davenport had a great performance helping his team score points through the air, the ground, and a kickoff return. His ability to spread the ball around had four of his teammates put points on the board.”
After a hard-fought first quarter with Morgan holding a 27-22 lead, the Eagles (2-1) built a 47-29 advantage by halftime before scoring 28 unanswered points in the second half to end the game on the 45-point mercy rule in the fourth.
Spreading the ball around to seven different receivers, senior Ivan Alavarez and sophomore Dathen Davenport caught two touchdown passes apiece, and sophomore Kason Sims hauled in another. On the ground, junior Gerardo Monroy added a touchdown run to end the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Defensively, sophomore Adrian Vera-Rico led Morgan with 13 tackles, while Derek Davenport and Monroy added 10 takedowns each, followed by junior Manuel Muniz and Alvarez with eight apiece
“The defense had forced seven turnovers and recovered seven of them,” Aviles said. “Good defense allowed them to separate themselves from the Bulldogs. After the Eagles made some adjustments they began to slow down the Bulldogs offensive efforts.”
WALNUT SPRINGS 55, GHOLSON 0
GHOLSON – In thoroughly dominating fashion, the 26th-ranked Walnut Springs Hornets stung Gholson, 55-0, on the road last Friday night, ending the game at halftime with the 45-point mercy rule.
Corey Hargrove rushed for 114 yards and three touchdowns, while senior Christian Aguilar and freshman Diego Muniz ran for two scores each as the Hornets (2-1) rolled up 224 yards rushing on only 16 attempts.
“Everything clicked from the start,” Walnut Springs head coach Lonnie Flippen said. “We had some great blocking on our sweeps. On defense, we had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Now we need to prove to ourselves that the Gholson game wasn’t a fluke, and that we really are making progress.”
Defensively, Aguilar led the Eagles with eight tackles, followed by Abraham Lares with six. Muniz also returned an interception for a score.
“I thought we played well as a team,” Flippen said. “We’ll see this week as we enter the game with Avalon as 33-point underdogs. We’ll see if we have matured as a team.”
OGLESBY 46, IREDELL 30
IREDELL – After missing most of the 2019 season when their team was decimated by injury and then sitting out the first two weeks of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 precautions, the Iredell Dragons finally took the football field last Friday night.
Despite showing promise and making it a one-score game in the fourth quarter, Iredell fell at Olgesby, 46-30, last Friday night.
“It was a great game,” Iredell head coach Luis Guereca. “Unfortunately, we were not able to get the win. Really proud of our players on how they fought the whole game.”
After falling behind 38-18 at the end of three quarters, the Dragons scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth on two rushing touchdown by Hunter Sheffield. But Olgesby responded with a 32-yard scoring strike to secure the victory.
Sheffield led the Dragons with 185 yards and four touchdowns while completing six of 13 passes for 88 yards. Preston Robinson hauled in all six receptions for 88 yards, while Payton Murphy added 56 rushing yards and a score.
Defensively, Sheffield led Iredell with 20 tackles, followed by Robinson with nine and Murphy with seven.
“Not being able to convert on PATs and missed opportunities throughout the game was the story of the game for us,” Guereca said. “We certainly saw some good play, but we all know there is room for improvement, and that will be our focus each week.”
GUSTINE 38, CRANFILLS GAP 27
GUSTINE – Falling behind by two scores early, the Cranfills Gap Lions battled back but came up short despite a wild finish in a 38-27 loss to Gustine on the road last Friday night.
Trailing 22-7 at halftime, Iredell battled through a scoreless third quarter before making a late run, scoring two unanswered touchdowns to make it a one-point game.
With the ground attack finding its footing, Lion senior Cason Cox led the rally with 123 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Gustine responded by powering the ball down the field to take a 30-21 lead, but Cranfills Gap answered again with a mix of the passing game and runs from Cox to pull back within three points.
Jason Youngblood rushed for 43 yards, Tanner Allen added a rushing touchdown, while Case Koehler led receivers with two catches for 63 yards. Cox finished by completing 10 of 18 passes for 108 yards, but suffered three interceptions.
Needing to make a last minute defensive stop, the Gap defense could not slow down the powerful Gustine attack. Tanner Allen led the Lion defense with 14 tackles, followed by Cox with 13, Youngblood with 10 takedowns and an interception, as well as Blake Allen with nine tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
“Our defense was hustling and making play, but made some mental mistakes that gave up a few touchdowns,” Cranfills Gap head coach Adam Carroll said. “Our offense moved the ball. But especially in the first half, we kept making key mistakes with five turnovers.
“I was proud of the second half effort to try and come back, but our youth and mistakes cost us a win.”
Once again this season, THE SPORTS BUZZ will provide award-winning coverage of the 2020 Texas high school football season, focusing on Class 3A, 2A and 1A schools in the 10-county Heart of Texas region — which includes Bosque, Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan and Somervell counties.
Within the Heart of Texas region, THE SPORTS BUZZ will be covering 21 Class 1A-Six-Man schools spread out across eight districts in two divisions. Be sure to check back every Sunday for the Class 1A Gridiron Grades and Friday Night Flashback featuring district standings, scores and upcoming matchups for all 21 Class 1A teams from the Heart of Texas.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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