Combined, Iredell High School and Walnut Springs High School consist of fewer than a hundred students.
Yet the rivalry between the Dragons and Hornets ranks as one of the biggest and best among the small-school ranks.
“Every year, people want you to win your homecoming game, and beat Iredell,” Walnut Springs coach Tim Trotter said. “Those are the biggest goals.”
Added Iredell’s Luis Guereca: “That’s one thing our guys circle at the start of the year. They want to beat Walnut.”
The District 14-1A Div. II title should be decided by that rivalry game, though the loser still figures to be in good shape for a playoff spot. Elsewhere, Morgan and Cranfills Gap own aspirations of playing spoiler under ambitious, first-year coaches.
“You can’t have an off night,” Trotter said. “I think Morgan and Cranfills Gap have a chance to be way more competitive.
- LAST SEASON — 7-5 (3-0)
- RETURNING STARTERS — 5 offensive, 5 defensive
- COACH LUIS GUERECA — 32-20 at Iredell
Playoff history: 7-13 in 15 trips, most recently 2016; 0 state championships
Outlook: The defending district champions possess all the pieces to assemble a repeat, led by RB Morgan Whitfield, an honorable-mention all-state jitterbug who scurried his way to 934 yards and 15 TDs in 2016. “He’s got a high motor, and it shows,” head coach Luis Guereca said.
Fortunately for Iredell, Whitfield isn’t the only accelerant for the Dragons’ fire. Five different players scored touchdowns in the team’s opening scrimmage, reflecting a well-balanced attack.
Guereca said that in addition to Whitfield, Iredell will need big contributions from WR/CB Colton Fowler, a second-team all-state player in 2016, as well as RB/CB Sergio Munoz, CB Alex Argott and SB Micah Wellborn.
9/1 Jonesboro 7:30
9/8 at Kopperl 7:30
9/15 Gordon 7:30
9/22 at Evant 7:30
9/30 Gorman 7:00
10/6 at Lingleville 7:30
10/20 Stephenville Faith 7:30
10/27 Walnut Springs 7:30*
11/3 Morgan 7:30*
11/10 at Cranfills Gap 7:30*
Walnut Springs Hornets
- LAST SEASON — 6-5 (2-1)
- RETURNING STARTERS — 5 offensive, 4 defensive
- COACH TIM TROTTER — 74-31 at Walnut Springs
Playoff history: 10-16 in 16 trips, most recently 2016; 0 state championships
Outlook: The Hornets don’t need Google Maps to reach the playoffs. Since 2008, they’ve missed the postseason only once, and the program hasn’t suffered a losing record since 2002.
RB/LB Ben Muniz won district offensive MVP honors last year after rushing for 1,383 yards and 23 touchdowns to go with three receiving TDs. He’s also one of the catalysts defensively after making 86 stops.
But Muniz has ample help, led by FB/NG Alex Villarreal and WR/DL Miguel Ponce, a dependable passing target who is blessed with reliable hands. The QB battle has come down to Seth Schilling and Cruz Chavez.
9/2 vs Stephenville Faith (at Hico) 1:30
9/8 at Aquilla 7:30
9/15 Kopperl 7:30
9/22 at Gholson 7:30
9/30 at Covington 7:30
10/7 Avalon 7:30
10/13 Lingleville 7:30
10/27 at Iredell 7:30*
11/3 Cranfills Gap 7:30*
11/10 at Morgan 7:30*
- LAST SEASON — 2-7 (0-3)
- RETURNING STARTERS — 4 offensive, 4 defensive
- COACH EDWARD AVILES — 0-0 at Morgan
Playoff history: 0-1 in 1 trip (2001); 0 state championships
Outlook: New coach Edward Aviles is hardly a stranger to Morgan. Not only did he coach in the district last year as an assistant at Walnut Springs, but he’s also a former Morgan player himself.
Senior RB/LB Dalton Weatherford is approaching the year with a lot to prove after coming off an injury. “He’s a work animal,” Aviles said. “I think the injury has motivated and pushed him.”
RB/CB Andrew Alonzo, C/DL Arnold Angeles and RB/CB Clayton Sewell form a solid core of veteran leaders.
9/1 at Bynum 7:30
9/8 Penelope 7:30
9/15 Sidney 7:30
9/22 Lometa 7:30
9/29 at Evant 7:30
10/5 at Bluff Dale JV 7:00
10/13 at Gorman 7:30
10/27 at Cranfills Gap 7:30*
11/3 at Iredell 7:30*
11/10 Walnut Springs 7:30*
Cranfills Gap Lions
- LAST SEASON — 2-8 (1-2)
- RETURNING STARTERS — 3 offensive, 3 defensive
- COACH ADAM CARROLL — 0-0 at Cranfills Gap
Playoff history: 1-7 in 7 trips, most recently 2013; 0 state championships
Outlook: It will be strange for many of Cranfills Gap’s opponents to not see Kyle Doty on the sideline. Doty stepped out of coaching after a 19-year run at Gap, and the new head man is Adam Carroll, who last served as an assistant at Nueces Canyon.
“Our expectations are that we have a good shot of making the playoffs,” Carroll said. “We have a couple of senior move-ins, and that’ll help a lot.”
RB Ethan Pierce, a senior, should shoulder a sizable chunk of the offensive load, along with junior RB Ricardo Brionez. Numbers-wise, the Lions figure to be in pretty good shape, with 11 players out from a school with 24 total students, boys and girls, at the last enrollment accounting.
8/31 at Penelope 7:30
9/8 Evant 7:30
9/15 Mullin 7:30
9/22 at Sidney 7:30
9/29 at Abbott 7:30
10/6 at Gholson 7:30
10/13 Oglesby 7:30
10/27 Morgan 7:30*
11/3 at Walnut Springs 7:30*
11/10 Iredell 7:30*