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Competing in a six-man league all their own, the 18th-ranked Morgan Eagles will battle the 26th-ranked Walnut Springs Hornets for the District 12-1A, DII crown

MORGAN — It may not have turned out quite the way many envisioned it, but Bosque County will get the Class 1A six-man football showdown it deserves.

When the 18th-ranked Morgan Eagles soared past the defending District 12-1A, Division II champion Cranfills Gap Lions, 52-6, in their district opener two weeks ago, little did Morgan head coach Edward Aviles and his squad know that it would be the only victory needed to earn a postseason berth coming out of the all-Bosque County five-team league.

But unfortunately for the Kopperl Eagles, the Iredell Dragons and the Cranfills Gap Lions, Covid-19 and the injury bug proved to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome in a high school football season filled with the unexpected. With the season already over for those three teams, Morgan (3-0 in district, 7-2 overall) will hit the road to face the young and surprising 26th-ranked Walnut Springs Hornets (3-0, 7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday at Hornet Field — a week ahead of schedule.

“I’m glad Coach Aviles made the suggestion that we move our game up a week,” Walnut Springs head coach Lonnie Flippen said. “Otherwise, we would have gone three weeks without a game. I’m concerned about how sharp we may be on Friday night with a two-week break. And then, the weather being what it is makes it hard to prepare adequately for a team that’s as loaded as Morgan is.”

By totally dominating Cranfills Gap (0-2, 1-5), Morgan earned the right to face Walnut Springs in the showdown for the district title. And it proved to be a complete team effort by the Eagles as six different players found their way into the endzone. Seniors Derik Davenport and Ivan Alvarez led Morgan as both athletes threw for one touchdown and ran for another.

Morgan jumped out to a 16-0 first quarter lead and took a 38-6 advantage into the locker room  at halftime before scoring two quick touchdowns to wrap up the win with 8:25 left in the third quarter by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule.

With the Eagles spreading the ball around, junior Manuel Muniz passed for a touchdown, sophomores Adrian Vera-Rico and Dathen Davenport caught scoring passes, junior Gerardo Monroy ran for a touchdown, and sophomore Keylan Watts caught a scoring strike to end the game.

Defensively, Dathan Davenport led Morgan with seven tackles, followed by Vera-Rico with six and Alvarez with five.

“The Eagles were fortunate enough to take care of business,” Aviles said. “The defense had one slip and allowed the Lions to complete a pass for a touchdown just before the half. But we came back out strong after halftime and were able to end the game early.”

Playing shorthanded due to injuries, Cranfills Gap did not have the firepower to rally from the early deficit, despite Cason Cox connecting with Case Koehler for a 46-yard scoring strike before intermission. Cox led the Lions in rushing with 68 yards on 12 carries while completing four of 10 passes for 66 yards. Jason Youngblood fought for 43 yards rushing on 10 attempts, while Blake Allen and Cox led the Lions with four tackles each.

“Being shorthanded, our goal was to play the whole game with effort and execute,”Cranfills Gap head coach Adam Carroll said. “We struggled moving to ball and finishing drives. We may get everyone back from injury in a couple weeks, but unfortunately our playoff chances are gone with Kopperl and Iredell not having enough to compete.”

With an open date last Friday, Cranfills Gap expected to get healthy before closing out the season against Kopperl and Iredell, then hope for some help to climb back into the postseason chase. But Kopperl decided to cancel its season from the outset due to Covid-19 concerns, and Iredell shut its season down before hosting Walnut Springs last Friday.

“It’s a shame that the kids at Cranfills Gap and Iredell weren’t able to complete their season,” Flippen said. “They were both quality teams that were competitive throughout most of the preseason. They were both a deserving bunch of kids.”

The last time all five Bosque County six-man schools played in the same district, former Walnut Springs head coach Tim Trotter was the only one around to see it. Although the Bosque County rivals competed in the same district in 2002, the previous league also included outsiders Jonesboro and Oglesby.

But when Trotter retired during the summer as the county’s longest tenured head coach dating back to 1994, Flippen returned to the sideline to coach the Hornets for the first time since 1991. While Flippen expressed excitement about the all-Bosque County district from the outset, the young Hornets have proven to be the surprise of the league under his guidance.

“It is fun to be in this situation with our kids, since no one really expected us to be too competitive this year,” Flippen said. “These guys have made me proud all year. And I can only hope we play well enough on Friday night to have an opportunity to win a district title, and that Bosque County title as well.”

Coming off their first district championship since 1982, the Cranfills Gap Lions brought high expectations for a repeat into the season. But a case of Covid-19 slowed the team early before injuries hit the Lions hard.

“This year was a tough one, with no offseason,” Carroll said. “And seeing most of my high school boys in August for the first time in months put us way behind. We struggled with injuries all year and finally got healthy. But due to our district schedule, we won’t get to see the field with all our players.

“I feel bad for our senior boys. It wasn’t the season they wanted to end with, that’s for sure. I’m looking toward to the future though. We will have almost all of our team back next year, and our Junior High team is undefeated. We wish Walnut Springs and Morgan good luck with their district title game and representing our district well in the playoffs.”


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