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With the opportunity for a new start in 2021, the Class 1A, DII Cranfills Gap Lions move past 2020 disappointments filled with Covid & injuries

CRANFILLS GAP — Despite battling numerous injuries and two Covid shutdowns, the defending District 12-1A, Division II champion Cranfills Gap Lions still managed to complete the unprecedented 2020 Texas high school football season. Just barely. But the Lions did not walk away with the results they had hoped to achieve.

Thanks to two shorthanded, lopsided losses to district champion Morgan and runnerup Walnut Springs, Cranfills Gap saw its hopes of defending its title and winning the much-anticipated Battle of the Bosque come to abrupt and untimely end.

But for the Lions (3-5 overall, 2-2 in district), that was then and this is now.

“We are so thankful to be back on the field this season and hoping for a more normal season this year,” Cranfills Gap football head coach Adam Carroll said. “We had two Covid shutdowns last year, and we hope to return to a somewhat normal year of football.”

Despite the unique circumstances, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine place the Lions out of the 2021 playoffs, finishing third in District 12-1A, DII.

“I wasn’t surprised by the picks from DCTF magazine with the way the season ended last year,” Carroll said. “But we believe we had sort of a fluke year with injuries and Covid shutdowns. So, our goal this year is to get back to the playoffs and win our district. We have some great talent coming back, along with some young and new talent to help.”

With 14 returning lettermen, the Lions will have four offensive and four defensive starters back.

Senior running back Cruz Flores returns to lead the Lion ground game, while junior wide receivers Aiden Doty and Case Koehler will be primary targets for sophomore quarterback Blake Allen. Senior center Trenton Roberson will provide protection and blocking up front.

Last season 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, Carroll and his squad were not the team they expected to be. Playing shorthanded due to injuries, Cranfills Gap did not have the firepower to rally from the early deficit against the talented state-ranked Morgan Eagles.

And 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.

In 2020, the first edition of the all-Bosque County district did not take share as planned, but high hopes for this season remain. The last time all five Bosque County six-man schools played in the same district, none of the current head coaches were 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.

“We have set standards and expectations with our program that we hope to uphold,” Carroll said. “Success will follow from the hard work we put in and having fun playing this game.”

Be sure to pick up a copy of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: 2021 BOSQUE COUNTRY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW published by The Clifton Record & Meridian Tribune on newsstands this week.

Photos by ASHLEY BARNER & courtesy of Bosque County Publishing©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.