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August 31, 2021

BACK TO THE FUTURE?

in Football

Feeling like deja vu all over again, Heart of Texas six-man football opens with several cancellations; Walnut Springs posts impressive win over Three Way

Just when we all expected a return to normalcy this fall, it felt like deja vu all over again as the 2021 Texas high school football season began when two of the five slated Bosque County six-man games were cancelled due to Covid protocols last week.

But for those fortunate enough to open the season under the Friday night lights, it proved to be some exciting six-man football on the gridiron regardless of the outcome.

After advancing to the 2020 Class 1A, Division I state championship game in defense of their 2019 state title. the seventh-ranked Blum Bobcats with a solid 42-28 victory over the up-and-coming Aquilla Cougars. In other Class 1A, DI action, the sixth-ranked Jonesboro Eagles soared past Coolidge, 67-26, while the ninth-ranked Abbott Panthers slashed the Avalon Eagles, 52-6.

In Class 1A, Division II season openers, the third-ranked Strawn Greyhounds began their quest to return to the state championship game after falling short in 2020 by racing past White Deer, 50-8, at Jayton, the 17th-ranked Oglesby Tigers mauled Ranger, 52-32, and the Sidney Eagles slipped by Zephyr, 21-18, in an unusually low-scoring six-man defensive battle.

WALNUT SPRINGS 65, THREE WAY 35

WALNUT SPRINGS — Sophomore Diego Muniz ran for four touchdowns and produced two more scores on defense to lead the Walnut Springs Hornets to an impressive 65-35 home victory over the Three Way Indians last Friday night.

With senior Corey Hargrove leaving the game with cramps on the Hornets’ first possession of the game, Diego Muniz took over by rushing for 224 yards. Anthony Muniz filled in admirably for Hargrove, running for 110 yards and three scores.

“It’s great to be in a situation where everyone has an opportunity to play,” Walnut Springs football head coach Lonnie Flippen said. “We have a great deal to work on, including some more conditioning. But these guys have a desire to win, and they know what we need to do to get better. I couldn’t be prouder of their effort.”

After building a 41-28 lead before intermission, the Hornets (1-0) stung Three Way for 24 unanswered points in the second to put the game away. Freshman Jesse Lamb scored on the second rushing attempt of his high school career, while center Pablo Gonzales led Walnut Springs with five receptions for 72 yards.

“I was proud of our young kids that came in and played key roles on several occasions,” Flippen said. “I can’t say enough about sophomore Adrian Chavez in his first start at quarterback. He limited his mistakes and did a great job lead blocking on our sweeps.”

Defensively, Anthony Muniz led the Hornets with 15 tackles, followed by sophomore Brenden Shuemake and freshman Josue Ontiveros with eight takedowns each. Diego Muniz returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown and scored again on a three-yard fumble recovery, while Schemake grabbed an interception at the one-yard line to stop a Three Way scoring threat.

EVANT 68, CRANFILLS GAP 49

EVANT — Despite producing almost 500 yards of total offense, the young Cranfills Gap Lions could not slow down the Class 1A, Division I Evant attack as the Elks stampeded to a 68-49 victory last Thurday night.

Senior Cruz Flores scored four touchdowns and threw for another while junior Aiden Doty tossed three touchdown passes to lead the Lions (0-1) in the losing effort. Flores rushed for 206 yards and caught six passes for 106 yards, while Doty completed 11 of 19 passes for 171 yards. Sophomore Adan Flores hauled in two passes for 55 yards and a score, while junior Case Koehler pulled down three passes for 57.

“I felt we did a lot of good things on offense,” Cranfills Gap football head coach Adam Carroll said. “But we shot ourselves in the foot the second quarter and got behind. We have to do a better job of tackling if we want to win a lot of games this year.”

Trailing 40-21 at the half, Cranfills Gap rallied in the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough to surpass Evant as the Lions struggled to run down the Elks in the open field.

Defensively, sophomore Blake Allen led the Lions with eight tackles and a fumble recovery, followed by junior Haydn Kirby with seven takedowns and an interception, Doty with six tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery, as well as freshman Juan Berumen with six tackles.

COVINGTON 45, IREDELL 0

COVINGTON — Finally back on the football field after spending the better part of the last two season sidelined, the young Iredell Dragons proved no match for Class 1A, DI Covington as the Owls soared to an overwhelming 45-0 victory last Friday night.

“Definitely a tough way to start the season, but we were up against a tough team,” Iredell football head coach Luis Guereca said. “We couldn’t get the ball rolling the right way starting off the game. Then, we got hit with an injury to a key player.”

After winning three consecutive district titles and making back-to-back trips to the Class 1A, Division II, Region IV finals in 2017 and 2018, the Iredell Dragons were derailed by a slew of injuries in 2019, and then bit by the Covid pandemic and injury bugs last season.

In 2021, the Dragons field a young squad with only five returning lettermen with limited experience. Despite 13 players on the roster, Iredell do not have a single senior.

“The lack of experience really showed up,” Guereca said. “In the end it was a learning process for our team. We’ll just have to keep getting better and be patient for the injured to heal up.”

MORGAN at PENELOPE CANCELLED

After winning the District 12-1A, Division II title in 2020, the 20th-ranked Morgan Eagles were forced to put their plans to defend on hold due to Covid protocols shutting down the school two weeks ago, leading to the cancellation of their season opener at Penelope last Friday night.

But barring any setbacks, Morgan hopes to open their 2021 quest to return to the Class 1A, DII playoffs when the Eagles host Oglesby Friday at 6:30 p.m.

“We should be good to play against Oglesby this week,” Morgan football head coach Edward Aviles said. “I was hoping we could have played our game against Penelope, but that wasn’t the case. Covid really affected us last year, and it affected our momentum going into playoffs for football and basketball. We just tried to pick up where we left off and tried to do the best we could.

“Like always, we adjust to the situations and do the best we can and reach our goals by getting better every week. As for getting in the first game, it should be exciting, and we are looking forward to it.”

KOPPERL at ROCHELLE JV CANCELLED

Coming off an injury-shorten season in 2019, the Kopperl Eagles decided a shortage of numbers and the Covid pandemic warranted shutting down the football program last season.

Now returning to the gridiron with a new head coach starting from scratch, the Eagles were forced to cancel their season opener on the road facing the Rochelle JV last Thursday due to Covid concerns. Kopperl hopes to begin the 2021 campaign in Waco at 6:30 p.m. Thursday against the Methodist Children’s Home JV.

“We were following the school’s Covid policy this week and made the decision to not play,” Kopperl’s first year head coach Aaron Maxwell said. “The guys are chomping at the bit to get going and are fired up for next week’s game

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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