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Looking for second District 12-1A, DII title in three years, Cranfills Gap Lions take control of six-man football Battle for the Bosque

After winning the District 12-1A, Division II title in 2019, the Cranfills Gap Lions just barely survived numerous injuries and Covid shutdowns to complete the unprecedented 2020 Texas high school football season. With that in mind, most prognosticators did not expect the Lions to challenge for a playoff berth, let alone the district crown.

Boy, were they ever wrong.

Scheduled to open the 2021 District 12-1A, DII play by facing the defending district champion Morgan Eagles and the runner-up Walnut Springs Hornets in back-to-back weeks, Cranfills Gap posted two convincing victories to take control of the six-man football Battle for the Bosque.


Featuring a balanced offensive attack by scoring three rushing touchdowns and three more times through the air, the surprising and resurgent Cranfills Gap Lions dominated the defending district champion Morgan Eagles on their way to an impressive 42-28 victory at home last Friday night.

Sophomore Trenton Roberson powered his way to two rushing touchdowns and caught a scoring strike while senior Cruz Flores ran for one score and threw for another to give the Lions (2-0 in district, 5-3 overall) sole possession of first place in District 12-1A, DII. Flores finished with 214 yards rushing while completing four of six passes for 40 yards to dethrone the Eagles (0-1, 0-5).

“We knew Morgan would be a tough team even though they came in without a win,” Cranfills Gap head coach Adam Carroll said. “We know the kind of talent they have and we knew it would be a tougher game than the spread had it. But the boys were ready and they stepped up.”

After a defensive struggle in the first half results in an 8-0 lead for Cranfills Gap at intermission, the Lions opened things up in the third quarter. Junior Aiden Doty tossed two touchdown passes while completing four of eight for 69 yards, while junior Case Koehler hauled in three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown, Roberson completed a 42-yard catch-and-run for a score, and junior Haydn Kirby pulled down a 10-yard scoring strike.

“Our defense was playing very good holding them to zero points at halftime,” Carroll said. “Our offense was having problems with communication and blocking at the line. We finally got it figured out in the second half, and it opened up some things.”

Defensively, freshman Eli Whitmer led the Lions with 13 tackles and a forced fumble, followed by Flores with 12 takedowns, sophomore Blake Allen with eight tackles and a fumble recovery, as well as senior Elias Marquez Peter with seven tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Morgan senior Manuel Muniz scored three touchdowns and junior Kason Sims tossed two touchdown passes in the losing effort for the Eagles.

“Our team is going through adversity that we have put upon ourselves,” Morgan head coach Edward Aviles said. “The team hasn’t had the leadership it requires to be successful. Injuries keep us puttering along and with a small window to make the postseason. I am hoping we can finish on a high note by having the right players step up and making the contributions they need to have the team have some success.”


Bouncing back from a disappointing district opening loss to Cranfills Gap, the Walnut Springs Hornets took care of business by grounding the young and inexperienced Kopperl Eagles, 52-6, on the road last Friday night.

Taking advantage of three first quarter Kopperl turnovers, the Hornets (1-1 in district, 3-5 overall) quickly built a 22-0 lead and never looked back. Diego Muniz scored three touchdowns while Jordan Ontiveros added two more to lead the win over Kopperl (0-2, 0-6).

“This win seemed like a long time in coming, but it puts us back in the playoff picture,” Walnut Springs head coach Lonnie Flippen said. “We understand we have to win out, and that won’t be an easy task. But it gives us something to shot for.”

Muniz rushed for one touchdown, caught a 25-yard pass for another, and added a 42-yard kickoff return for a score. Jordan Ontiveros scored on a 22-yard run and hauled in a touchdown pass from his younger brother Josue Ontiveros. Bryan Chavez threw another scoring strike and Luis Fraire closed out the Hornets scoring late in the second quarter.

Offensively for Kopperl, Anthony Johnson ran for the Eagles’ lone score, while Christian Falk completed eight of 13 passes for 43 yards, and Isaac Payen hauled in four receptions for 28 yards. Mikey Ensor, a regional qualifier in cross country, led Kopperl defensively with three tackles.

“Although the score didn’t reflect it, we played much better this week,” Kopperl football first-year head coach Aaron Maxwell said. “Every week is a learning experience for us and the guys were able to put a few things together this week.

“Unfortunately, we turned it over three times in the first quarter and put ourselves in a hole. We are proud of their continued growth and fighting spirit.”

Flippen walked away from the game impressive by the effort given from Kopperl’s youthful squad loaded with sophomores and freshmen.

“I would like to send out a word of praise to the young Kopperl team and Coach Maxwell,” Flippen said.  “Those young men never gave up and played until the final play. They will be a team that will be in contention in a year or two.”


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