Tigers fall to Falcons in State Quarterfinals

It didn’t take long for the Dripping Springs Tigers to find themselves between a rock and a hard place Saturday at the Alamodome.

An aerial barrage levied by the Richmond Foster Falcons placed the Tigers in a steep 34-0 first half hole.   

Below: Dripping Springs’ seniors Cullen Young (16) and McKenly O’Neal hug after a bitter 51-28 loss to Richmond Foster in the Class 5A Division I quarterfinal at the Alamodome last Saturday.  (photo by Wayland D. Clark)

Dripping Springs’ seniors Cullen Young (16) and McKenly O’Neal hug after a bitter 51-28 loss to Richmond Foster in the Class 5A Division I quarterfinal at the Alamodome last Saturday. (photo by Wayland D. Clark)

But for senior quarterback Reese Johnson c and his Tiger teammates, throwing in the towel wasn’t an option. Even as Dripping Springs’ historic season ended in a 51-28 loss, a resilient attitude helped Dripping Springs stay in the game.

“We kind of looked at each other and said this isn’t how it’s going to go down,” Johnson said. “Whether this was our last time, or we’re moving on to next week, we’re not going to be the team that gets beat 70-0 in the regional final. We were going to make them earn it.”

Foster (14-0) was guided by a balanced attack on offense that racked up over 400 yards on the day.

Leading the charge was the combination of quarterback Alex Ramart and wide receiver Cedarian Lamb. The two accounted for five touchdowns through the air, four of those in the first half.

Dripping Springs Tiger senior running back Teo Brinckmann (1) sheds a tear as he embraces senior quarterback Reese Johnson following the team’s 51-28 loss to the Richmond Foster Falcons Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Dripping Springs’ finish in the state quarterfinals is the deepest by any Tiger team in school history. (photo by Moses Leos III)

Dripping Springs Tiger senior running back Teo Brinckmann (1) sheds a tear as he embraces senior quarterback Reese Johnson following the team’s 51-28 loss to the Richmond Foster Falcons Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Dripping Springs’ finish in the state quarterfinals is the deepest by any Tiger team in school history. (photo by Moses Leos III)

“We weren’t ready for their pass game,” Dripping Springs senior defensive end McKenly O’Neal said. “We shut down their run game well, but we weren’t ready. They’ve got a good wide receiver. He’s going to go somewhere and play great.”

Tiger head coach Galen Zimmerman said the Tigers also struggled to match Richmond Foster’s intensity. Self-inflicted wounds also played a factor as Dripping Springs committed six turnovers in the game, which led to 24 Falcon points.

“We can’t turn the ball over (six) times in the ball game. You don’t come out on top too often,” Zimmerman said.

On offense, Dripping Springs’ run game was stymied by Foster’s sizeable defensive front. Zimmerman said Foster forced the Tigers to rely on the pass, but also become one-dimensional.

“We’ve been living on being able to be balanced and taking what they give us,” Zimmerman said. “We did well throwing the football, but we got one dimensional and that makes it tough.”

Led by Ramart and Lamb, Foster built a 34-0 advantage. Dripping Springs, however, fought right back.

Led by Johnson, Dripping Springs rallied for a pair of touchdowns before halftime to cut Foster’s lead to 37-14.

The Tigers hit the ground running in the second half by tallying 14 unanswered points, highlighted by a 39-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Hoyle.

Dripping Springs, which cut Foster’s lead to 37-28 in the third quarter, regained momentum and composure. Helping the Tigers was shutting down the Ramart-to-Lamb connection.

“We tried to change coverage and do something that changed their looks,” Zimmerman said. “He’s an explosive player, so you have to commit one and sometimes two places, and that’s what’s hard.”

But the Tigers couldn’t keep pace. Foster recovered to tally 14 points down the stretch to stay out of reach.

Amid the emotions of seeing the season end, Tiger players and coaches reflected on the impact their run had on the community.

Zimmermain cited the numerous fans who followed the Tigers through the run.

Zimmerman lauded the Tigers’ ability to battle amid adversity.

“That’s what they’ve done all year long. Those guys are a bunch of champions not because of the score, but because they compete,” Zimmerman said.

Johnson said Dripping Springs’ run “set a standard” for younger players to adhere to in the future.

“It means the world to be the first team to come this far, but … this isn’t the best we can do,” Johnosn said. “We’re going to tell (the underclassmen) to one up us. We want them to do better than us. We want them to get that ring.”

O’Neal said the Tigers’ success wasn’t a surprise.

“We set a standard for the next team to get farther than this,” he said. “I want (underclassmen) to come back and win state and win the ring we didn’t.”

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