The homegrown head football coach is taking the Hornets further than they have ever gone before in the six-man football playoffs, and it’s what everyone in town is talking about.
In Walnut Springs, life is good.
“If you go down to the store, it’s all people are talking about,” says first-year head coach Tim Trotter of his team’s run to the UIL Six-Man Division II Region IV title, making them the first Hornet team to win a regional since 1958.
“I was born and raised here, and I think 1958 was the last time we went past bi-district,” Trotter said.
Trotter and Walnut Springs upset previously undefeated Star, 80-73, in the regional finals last week, and advance to meet Region III champ Woodson in the state semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hico.
Everything wasn’t always so grand in Hornetville. Walnut Springs started the season 0-2 under Trotter, who was previously an assistant with the Hornets for 14 years before assisting at Jonesboro for four.
“I knew we had some talent but I wasn’t sure how good we’d be the first year,” Trotter said. “It took the guys a while to learn my system, and we played Richland Springs and Gordon early on. It was tough. I just told the guys to keep believing and they did. There’s no quit in these players. They never give up.”
Never giving up is exactly what has kept the Hornets’ season alive so long. Walnut Springs forced fumbles inside its own one-yard line to hold on in each of its last two postseason wins.
“We would get a lead (on Star) and they would come back, but at the end when they had the ball at the one, we were able to force a fumble and it went out the end zone. The same type of thing happened against Sidney the week before. They completed a pass and we forced a fumble at about the six-inch line and won. If these players had given up just a little bit either time we would’ve lost.”
But the never-say-die Hornets haven’t given up and haven’t lost - at least not in the playoffs.
“We’ve never been here before, but our attitude is this - While we’re here we might as well win it,” Trotter said.
As the Hornets refuse to lose, the town has begun talking, hoping for another game-saving play this Friday, and a chance to talk football again next week.
For the Hornets, that would mean making the school’s first appearance in a state championship game.