It didn’t take long Saturday for the Dripping Springs Tigers to make the dream of playing December football a reality.
A 35-point first quarter outburst foreshadowed Dripping Springs’ lopsided 69-35 win over the Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio.
Dripping Springs (12-1) advances to play the Richmond Foster Falcons (13-0) in the Regional Final round of the Class 5A, Division I playoffs at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Reaching the fourth round marks the deepest playoff run in program history.
But for head coach Galen Zimmerman, avoiding complacency while celebrating history is the focus as an unbeaten Foster program awaits.
Zimmerman said getting off to a fast start was the goal for the Tigers entering Saturday’s game. Dripping Springs didn’t waste time in accomplishing its mission when they stole possession from the Patriots on the opening kickoff.
Two plays later, Tiger running back Teo Brinckmann broke through for a 19-yard touchdown run to give Dripping Springs a 7-0 lead.
Dripping Springs continued the onslaught, and seized momentum, on its ensuing drive when Tiger quarterback Reese Johnson tossed a 79-yard touchdown pass to Reed Beverly.
The Tigers held a 14-0 lead roughly three minutes into the game. Dripping Springs closed the first half by taking a commanding 56-13 lead at intermission. The outburst was aided by four touchdown plays of 30 yards or more.
Zimmerman said he was pleased with “how many guys got involved early” and that the Tigers could “spread the ball around” the field.
Johnson, who went 7 of 10 for 206 yards passing and three touchdowns, assisted Dripping Springs’ offense, which gained 620 total yards in the game. He was helped by running backs Brinckmann and Jacob Cox, who combined for 153 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Zimmerman said Johnson and the Tiger offense thrived on giving what the Patriot offense gave them.
“We weren’t focusing in on one thing. We were able to move it short, long and run the football,” Zimmerman said. “They read the defense and did a good job. If they took something away, we were going with something else.”
Brinckmann credited the offensive line for success on the ground.
“It was great. The offensive line was opening up big holes for us,” Brinckmann said. “We had to get going we wanted to bring it to them and show them we could run the ball.”
On defense, Dripping Springs limited Patriot quarterback Benito Salazar to 233 yards and three touchdowns in the game. Zimmerman said preparation during the week helped the Tiger defense ready themselves for the Patriots’ air attack.
“Our kids were fast. They were locked in and knew what was coming,” Zimmerman said. “It’s easier to play because you can play fast and know where to be.”
The Patriot offense rallied back to life in the third frame.
Guided by the arm of Salazar, Mission Veterans outscored Dripping Springs 14-3 in the third quarter. Highlighting the Patriot’s comeback were a pair of touchdown passes from Salazar to wide receiver Jacob Guerrero.
But even as Mission Veterans stormed back into contention, Dripping Springs continued to stay a step ahead. They did so as the Tigers dipped deep into their bench.
Zimmerman said it was beneficial for many of the younger players to get a chance to see action in the postseason.
“Getting kids in the game with some extra practice and playoff-type football, hopefully it pays dividends in the years to come.”
Dripping Springs’ gaze now centers on a Richmond Foster offense that’s scored 182 points in three playoff games. Zimmerman said working on “relaxing and playing football” is what the Tigers will talk about prior to the game.
For Brinckmann, having the chance to extend a piece of history was a gratifying moment.
“We knew if we didn’t do our job, it wouldn’t go our way. But we knew what we had to do,” he said. “We came in here and got it done.”