After missing the postseason in 2021, the Class 1A, DII Walnut Springs Hornets know road to the district title runs through The Gap
WALNUT SPRINGS – After missing the playoffs last season, the Walnuts Springs Hornets appear armed and ready to return to the postseason during the 2022 Texas high school football season. And even though the UIL realignment broke up the all-Bosque County six-man district, Walnut Springs football head coach knows the road to the District 12-12A, Division II title runs through Cranfills Gap once again.
With 10 returning lettermen featuring four offensive and four defensive starters, the Hornets enter the season loaded for their quest to claim Walnut Springs’ first district title since 2011. In addition to facing favorite Cranfills Gap, the Hornets will take on Iredell and newcomer Bluff Dale in district action.
“Realignment was not what I expected, but it will be fine,” Flippen said. “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.
“Our kids know and respect the Cranfills Gap and Iredell programs, and they understand that those two teams will be a challenge within itself. We know very little about Bluff Dale, but we have an entire year to watch their progress and to prepare for them as they are the last game on our schedule. Looking at the Texas Football write-up, Bluff Dale will be by far the largest team in the district, but we have lots of games to play leading up to that matchup.”
To prepare for a tough district battle, the Hornets have scheduled seven challenging non-district opponents, opening the season on the road to take on the Bynum Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bulldog Field. Bynum enters the season as Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine’s favorite to win District 10-1A, DII over Morgan, Kopperl and Mount Calm.
As the dean of Bosque County six-man coaches, Flippen owns a career 179-148-2 win-loss-tie record as a head coach. With 34 years of coaching experience, Flippen enters the fourth season of his second stint at Walnut Springs after coaching the Hornets from 1983-91. Before that, Flippen has spent plenty of time in Bosque County, graduating from Cranfills Gap High School, coaching at Morgan on two separate occasions in the 1980s and again in the 1990s along with his terms at Walnut Springs.
With injuries playing a role in preventing the Hornets from making back-to-back postseason appearances last year, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine picked Walnut Springs as the odd-team out behind Cranfills Gap and Bluff Dale.
“It is always disappointing to be seen as a bottom level team, but I feel like it will be motivational for our kids,” Flippen said. “They don’t like to lose, they have often risen to accept the challenge, and I expect them to do so again this year.
“I have had teams ranked at the top of the district rankings many times, and that puts a target on your back from day one to live up to those expectations. It’s always more fun to be an underdog and prove the prognosticators wrong. We’ll just have to see what happens as the season progresses. We certainly have some athletes that are capable of making our season a successful one.”
The Hornets will be led by seniors Victor Favela and Eddie Davalos, as well as juniors Diego Muniz, Adrian Chavez, Brenden Shuemake, Santos Pina and Luis Fairie.
“I feel like we have some good leadership potential and once again, our kids like to win,” Flippen said. “Our depth will be a challenge, and we cannot have an overabundance of injuries like we had last year. If we can stay healthy and take care of business in the classroom, I look for the Hornets to surprise a few people. It won’t be easy, but it should be fun.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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