Following the UIL realignment, Bosque County six-man football teams, led by defending champ Cranfills Gap, undergo a slew of changes, including new coaches & new opponents
With the 2022-24 University Interscholastic League realignment last February, the all-Bosque County six-man football district became a thing of the past. And while the five six-man football schools will be facing new opponents when the Texas high school football season begins Aug. 25, two county teams will be doing so with new head coaches leading the way.
Instead of placing all five county six-man squads – Cranfills Gap, Iredell, Kopperl, Morgan and Walnut Springs – back into the same district they had competed in over the last two seasons, the UIL split them up across two different districts. Defending district champion Cranfills Gap will remain in District 12-1A, Division II along with Walnut Springs and Iredell, while Bluff Dale moves in to complete the four-team league.
“Realignment was not what I expected but it will be fine,” said Walnut Springs head coach Lonnie Flippen, the dean of Bosque County six-man coaches. “I had hoped that the UIL would have seen the benefit of leaving the Bosque County district intact, but that wasn’t to be. It was fun while it lasted.”
Finding himself in a unique situation as the new head coach at Cranfills Gap, former Iredell defensive coordinator Rodie Johnston returns to Bosque County to lead a district favorite Lion squad loaded with 10 returning lettermen from a district championship squad, including three offensive and four defensive starters.
“I think our expectations are high this season,” said Johnston, who returns to Bosque County after spending the last season as the head coach at Gustine. “Cranfills Gap has had success the last few seasons, and that kind of raises the bar as far as expectations. District play will be tough. In a four-team district, every game seems to have the feel of a rivalry game. From my experience being around the other teams, it’s going to be a battle to the finish.”
Universally picked at the odd team out in the District 12-1A, DII race behind Cranfills Gap and Walnut Springs, the Iredell Dragons hope top come of age in time to challenge for a playoff berth.
“Not a big change in our district with Bluff Dale replacing Morgan,” Iredell head coach Luis Guereca said. “Although we will still be a young team, I do feel like we will be an improved team from the previous season. But the process of getting better each week will be our main priority.
“We look forward to competing in this district for the next two seasons. I believe our expectations are to continue to improve each week and give ourselves more opportunities to win.”
District runner-up Morgan will move to District 10-1A, DII along with Kopperl, joining pre-season favorite Bynum and Mount Calm.
“We ended up with our previous district by going to the North East, and we are familiar with the teams,” Morgan head coach Edward Aviles said. “I think with our young group of players we should be able to contend with everyone in our district.”
On the flip side, the Kopperl Eagles restored their football program last season and were forced to field a varsity squad consisting of primarily underclassmen, including seven freshmen. As a Bosque County native, Darrell Wallace returns to take over the Kopperl program after stops in at Aquilla, Milford, Covington and Lingleville, among others while coaching since 1995.
“In addition to being the head football coach, I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church here in Kopperl,” said Wallace, who grew up in Meridian before graduating from Clifton High School in 1988. “I love it and I see some really great things happening.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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