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November 03, 2021

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT

in Football

Capturing their second District 12-1A, DII title in three years, the Cranfills Gap Lions win the six-man football Battle for the Bosque; Morgan & Walnut Springs headed for showdown

No one expected it to turn out this way, but that’s why they play the games. In the six-man football Battle for the Bosque, the 23rd-ranked Cranfills Gap Lions clinched their second District 12-1A, Division II championship in the last three seasons in dominating fashion last Friday night.

After winning the district title in 2019, the 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.

After knocking off the defending district champion Morgan Eagles and the 2020 runner-up Walnut Springs Hornets in back-to-back weeks, Cranfills Gap secured the title with a convincing victory over the young and rebuilding Kopperl football program.

But the drama remains far from over heading into the final week of the 2021 Texas high school six-man football regular season as Morgan hosts Walnut Springs in a winner-takes-all showdown at 7 p.m. Thursday for second place and postseason berth, while Cranfills Gap wraps up the regular season by hosting Iredell at 7 p.m. Thursday.

MORGAN 50, IREDELL 0

Junior Dathan Davenport scored three touchdowns, sophomore Mark Garcia threw two scoring strikes, senior Javier Guajardo caught two touchdown passes, while junior Kason Sims ran for one score and threw for another as the defending District 12-1A, DII champion Morgan Eagles soared past the young and rebuilding Iredell Dragons, 50-0, last Friday night at Dragon Stadium.

Jumping out to an overwhelming 32-0 first quarter lead, the Eagles (2-1 in district, 2-5 overall) scored quickly and often before putting the game away by sending Iredell (1-2, 3-4) home early by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule at the end of the half.

“That was kind of the plan from the get-go,” Morgan head coach Edward Aviles said. “We’ve been hurt since the beginning of the year, and we’re just getting to the point where we can execute some things. We’re getting guys healed up, and I thought we did an exceptional job.”

With five different Eagles tossing passes, Morgan completed seven of seven for 157 yards and five touchdowns as Davenport and Guajardo hauled in two scoring strikes apiece. The Eagles proved almost as effective on the ground, rushing for 114 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns scored by junior Adrian Vera-Rico, Davenport and Sims.

Defensively, freshman EJ Aviles Morgan with 12 tackles, followed by junior Keylan Watts and Vera-Rico with five each. The swarming Eagles never allowed Iredell to get anything going offensively, limiting the Dragons to only 26 total yards.

Junior Preston Robinson and sophomore Payton Murphy led the Iredell defensive effort with four tackles each, followed by sophomore Kyle Niedorf and freshman Aiden Bailey with two apiece.

“We played a really talented team this week, and we were not able to convert on offense consistently,” Iredell head coach Luis Guereca said. “They put a lot of pressure on our defense with the run/pass option. In the end, we could not maintain their level of play.”

CRANFILLS GAP 59, KOPPERL 7

Claiming their second district title in the last three seasons, the 23rd-ranked Cranfills Gap Lions left no doubt as they devoured the upstart Kopperl Eagles, 59-7, on the road last Friday night.

Scoring on their first four offensive plays from scrimmage, the Lions (3-0, 6-3) jumped out to a 32-0 first quarter lead on their way to finishing off Kopperl (0-4, 0-8) early by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule.

“The Lions went to Kopperl and came away with a decisive victory,” Cranfills Gap head coach Adam Carroll said. “All the backups and starters got playing time, and I was proud of the effort by all.”

Keeping the ball on the ground the entire game, Cranfills Gap rolled up 208 rushing yards on 13 carries while scoring seven times. Seniors Cruz Flores and Blake Allen collected three touchdowns apiece and junior Case Koehler ran for another, while senior Elias Marques Peter returned a kickoff for a score.

“It was another tough game for us on Friday,” Kopperl first-year head coach Aaron Maxwell said. “Our hats are off the Cransfills Gap. They’re a good, veteran team and that showed in the outcome of the game.”

Defensely, Allen led the Lions with 13 tackles, followed by Flores with 12 takedowns and a forced fumble, freshman Juan Berumen with eight tackles and a fumble recovery, and freshman Eli Whitmer with seven tackles.

For Kopperl, senior Michael Ensor scored the Eagles’ lone touchdown on a 60-yard run.

“This season was one of growth and gaining experience for our team,” Maxwell said. “We see it as an accomplishment to finish out our season after not having a team last year and feel we are headed in the right direction. The boys showed a lot of heart and determination every week, and they were committed to improving individually and as a team every week.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

KNOCKOUT PUNCH

in Football

Hico Tigers capitalize on turnovers to clinch postseason berth & third place in District 8-2A, DII by eliminating the Meridian Yellowjackets

MERIDIAN – In a battle with significant postseason implications for both teams, the Meridian Yellowjackets slugged it out with the Hico Tigers for the better part of the first half at Jacket Stadium last Friday night. But one punch to the gut changed everything.

Capitalizing on three Meridian turnovers, Hico broke a scoreless tie late in the second quarter before the Tigers pounced on the Jackets in the second half for a convincing 42-0 victory to clinch third place in District 8-2A, Division II and a postseason berth.

“We have to do better with dealing with adversity,” Meridian head coach Wade Morton said. “Offensively, Hico did a great job at the point of attack.”

After trading blow-for-blow for most of the first half, a Meridian turnover swung momentum in Hico’s direction, and things snowballed from there. In fact, it looked like the Jackets were on the verge of taking the lead when they got the ball in good field position after the defense held Hico deep in its own territory.

But then, Hico senior outside linebacker Reese Polk picked up a fumbled snap bouncing around in the backfield and raced 64 yards for a touchdown with 4:59 remaining in the half to break the scoreless deadlock.

“One turnover shouldn’t ever be the turning point in a ball game, but it certainly was Thursday night,” Morton said. “We didn’t react the way we expected too, and it proved to be critical against Hico.”

Two plays later, the Jackets fumbled another snap as Tiger junior defensive lineman Ty Crawford recovered and Hico (2-2 in district, 5-5 overall) quickly capitalized to take a 14-0 lead into the locker room at intermission.

In the first half, the Jackets (0-3, 1-8) did a good job of slowing Hico down and keeping them out of the end zone. The second half was a different story as Hico recovered a Jacket onside kickoff attempt to open the third quarter. The Tigers promptly mounted four-play scoring drive with Polk scoring on a keeper up the middle to give Hico a commanding 21-0 lead with 10:36 left in the third quarter.

After the Tigers scored again to take a 28-0 lead, the knockout blow came late in the third quarter when Price Mullin picked off a Jacket pass and Hico cashed in for the touchdown three plays later. With the Tiger defense keeping the Meridian offense in check the entire game, the three turnovers proved to be the back breakers.

While the Jackets produced only 101 total yards of offense, Brady Taylor led Meridian with 34 yards rushing on five carries and four receptions for 29 yards, while quarterback Matthew Jones completed eight of 13 passes for 46 yards.

Defensively, John Bernal led the Jackets with eight tackles and three sacks, followed by Dustan Bowers with seven takedowns, Noah Alvizo with six and Alejandro Rodriguez with five.

Closing out the regular season this week, the Jackets will hit the road to take on the Santo Tigers (2-1, 8-1), coming off a 33-6 loss to two-time district champion and fourth-ranked Albany (3-0, 8-0). Despite the loss, Santo clinched second place in district and a postseason berth by virtue of its 34-14 victory over third place Hico Oct. 22.

“Santo is another good team and have a lot of size,” Morton said. “We will have to put our best foot forward to compete.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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