The Walnut Springs Hornets have faced more than their fair share of adversity late in the regular season, but the blue team isn’t about to throw in the towel.
In a 12-point loss to Blum last week that ended up deciding the district title, Walnut Springs (6-4, 2-1) was thrown for a loop when senior quarterback Zane Trotter broke his collarbone on the third play of the contest.
“I put my JV quarterback in for Zane and we competed pretty well against Blum, but it was just too tough without having any practices using that lineup,” said coach Tim Trotter. “We were without two other starters for various reasons and couldn’t overcome all of that.”
After trailing 16-14 to Kopperl in Friday night’s regular-season finale at halftime, the Hornets erupted the rest of the way in a 66-24 victory.
“We had a good week of preparation coming into this game and made some changes to our offense that Kopperl wasn’t ready for,” Trotter said. “I was surprised we won by so much because I thought this game would be closer. I felt like we had the best athlete on the field, but we had to get Dillon (Rose) loose and get him some blocking.”
Freshman quarterback Carlos Ramirez completed four of eight passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. He added nine rushes for 90 yards and two more scores, plus he managed to make seven tackles with an interception on defense.
“Carlos ran real strong,” the coach said. “He made good decisions in this game. Against Blum, a few bad decisions by some young players were the difference.”
Fellow freshman Noel Chavez completed one of three passes for 13 yards and a touchdown. He also intercepted a pass on defense.
“Noel had played eight JV games, so he was able to step in and do okay with a good understanding of the system,” the coach said. “I knew these (young quarterbacks) were going to be good; I just didn’t want to throw them to the wolves yet. I had two freshmen and two sophomores all starting both ways. I was real proud of young guys stepping up and playing well.”
As for the aforementioned Rose, he rushed for 164 yards and five touchdowns on 16 carries, while also catching three passes for 19 yards and another touchdown. He had four rushing scores in the third quarter alone.
“They couldn’t deal with Dillon once he got rolling good and was reading his blocks better; he went wild on them,” Trotter said. “We wanted to put them away (in the third). Kopperl (suffered) some key injuries like we did in our Blum game and that hurt them.”
The Hornet rush attack benefitted from quality blocking.
“Trenton (Trotter) played really good in the second half, as far as his lead blocking at fullback,” the coach said. “Adolfo Morales also did a good job of run blocking.”
Rose also made 16 tackles on defense.
“We’ll miss Dillon a lot next year when he’s gone,” Trotter said.
Tony Chavez made a 60-yard touchdown reception.
“That was a huge play,” Trotter said. “He made a good adjustment to catch the ball and it came just before halftime to pull us close to them. Then Dillon broke a 55-yard touchdown run to open the second half and it pumped us up while demoralizing Kopperl.”
Wayne Heartsill had a huge defensive showing with 20 tackles – including 12 solo tackles – and two fumble recoveries.
“That was the best game of Wayne’s life,” Trotter said. “He was awesome and did everything right; I was real proud of him.”
Oscar Ruiz added 11 tackles.
“Oscar shored up the middle on our defensive line,” Trotter said. “Heartsill, Ramirez and Ruiz all had real good games on the defensive line to slow their offense down.”
Walnut Springs will open the postseason on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Ponder with a matchup against Savoy.
“Savoy is a big team with solid athletes and they’re 9-0,” the coach said. “Big teams have been a challenge for us this season because we’re a smaller team, so we’ll have to play well.”