Already running into a road block, the Class 1A, DII’s 20th-ranked Morgan Eagles hope to post back-to-back district titles
MORGAN – Before they could play their second scrimmage of the 2021 Texas high school football season, the Morgan Eagles found themselves headed home due to a school district-wide Covid-related shutdown. And after claiming the first-ever mythical Bosque County Six-Man Football championship, it wasn’t the way the Eagles envisioned embarking of their defense of the District 12-1A, Division II title.
“We will face this and deal with it, hoping to get back to playing football soon,” Morgan football head coach Edward Aviles said. “But right now, the safety of everyone in our community is our top concern.”
After Covid safety protocols forced Morgan to close the school, the Eagles to cancel their season opener against Penelope last Thursday. But barring any setbacks, Morgan hopes to open their 2021 quest to return to the Class 1A, DII playoffs when the Eagles host Oglesby next Friday at 6:30 p.m. With seven returning lettermen that includes five offensive and five defense starters, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine picked Morgan (8-3 overall, 4-0 in district) to repeat as district champions.
“I am looking forward to seeing our team grow and mesh from last season,” Aviles said. “All the players coming back gained a lot of experience from last season. It should be fun to watch this group use that experience to put ourselves in a position to be successful.”
After throwing for 294 yards and six touchdowns last season, senior Manuel Muniz will take over full-time quarterback duties, spreading the ball around through the air and on the ground. Morgan’s talented group of offensive weapons include senior running back Gerardo Monroy, junior running back Dathen Davenport, junior split back Kason Sims, junior running back Adrian Vera-Rico and junior wide receiver Keylan Watts.
“Experience and our players’ ability to adjust will be our greatest strength,” Aviles said. “Fixing the kicking game for extra points will be crucial and a focus for us.”
After the district faced unprecedented disruption from Covid and injuries last season, Aviles expects a hard-fought battle in 2021.
Coming off their first district championship since 1982, Cranfills Gap brought high expectations for a repeat into the 2020 season. But when the Eagles soared past the defending District 12-1A, Division II champion Cranfills Gap Lions, 52-6, in last season’s district opener, little did 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.
“Our district should be tougher this season,” Aviles said. “Kopperl will be young, Iredell will be young with numbers, Cranfills Gap will have two very good running backs, and Walnut Springs will bring back a young team that gained some good experience from last season. It should be fun to watch our district play out.”
But unfortunately for Kopperl, Iredell and Cranfills Gap, 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, 15th-ranked Morgan hit the road to face the young and surprising 26th-ranked Walnut Springs Hornets, and the Eagles rolled to an impressive 58-6 victory to claim the district title.
“Walnut Springs will have almost everyone from last year,” Aviles said. “They have some seniors with some young talent. But it will be a toss-up with Cranfills Gap. It will be tough with Cranfills Gap having a duo of running back that will be tough to defend.”
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. And make no mistake, Morgan wants to make it two in a row.
“Keeping ourselves healthy, making necessary adjustments with personnel, and making plays when we need to will be important to us having a successful season,” Aviles said. “I think our experience and players being able to move around will allow us to be the mix to make the playoffs.”
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 SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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