SAN ANTONIO – Revenge was as refreshing as a postgame celebratory ice water bath for Wimberley Texans head football coach Doug Warren.
Less than a month after suffering a late-season district loss to rival Geronimo Navarro, Wimberley (11-3) returned the favor Dec. 6 via a 42-12 upset of the state-ranked Panthers (13-1) in the Region IV, 4A-Division II final at the Alamodome. Wimberley’s win catapults the Texans into the 4A-DII state semifinals where they’ll square off against Silsbee Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Katy’s Legacy Stadium for the right to play for a state championship.
For Warren, witnessing his team reach the final four for the second time in three seasons was a testament to the hunger his players had to win.
“After the season we had last year, these kids were not satisfied. They were just down. But they came back and had the best offseason we’ve ever had,” Warren said. “It carried over into the summer and now they’re reaping the rewards.”
Texan senior quarterback Cooper McCollum said entering Friday’s rematch against Navarro meant coming in with the “right mentality.” Ultimately, McCollum said the Texans had “no doubt” the outcome against their rival was going to be different than the first time they played.
“We were going to play our game. We’ve been doing that for the last three weeks,” McCollum said.
Wimberley didn’t waste time getting the upper hand Friday as it sprinted to a commanding 21-0 lead after a quarter of play. Guiding that surge was McCollum who scored three of his six total scores in the opening stanza.
McCollum went 18 of 21 passing for 209 yards and five touchdowns, along with 31 yards rushing and a score. Backing up McCollum were wide receivers Josh Limely and Christian Marshall who both caught three passes for 65 yards. Marshall had two touchdown receptions and Limely had one.
Execution by Wimberley is what McCollum said was the difference between two meetings with Navarro.
“Our coach said they’re going to be a tough team and we needed to work hard,” said Texan running back Moses Wray. “We had to put our foot on the gas and we couldn’t let off.”
On the opposite end, Wimberley’s defense stifled Navarro’s methodical Slot-T attack to 280 total yards of offense. A pivotal moment was a critical Texan goal line stand early in the third frame, keeping Navarro from tallying a touchdown.
Wimberley capitalized on the moment with an 11-play, 84 yard drive capped off by a 13-yard touchdown pass from McCollum to wide receiver Jaxson Watts, increasing Wimberley’s lead to 28-6. The Texans outscored Navarro 14-6 in the final 12-plus minutes of the game.
Trusting their reads on the defensive side, as well as executing when needed, is what helped Wimberley limit Navarro’s offense, Warren said. Texan running back Moses Wray said familiarity with the Slot-T, which they saw a week prior in a contest against Rockport-Fulton, helped the Texans prepare for Navarro.
“They’ve been maligned all year, giving up too many points,” Warren said. “But all they’ve done is make the plays when we needed them to make plays.”
Wray said doing the little things and “doing your job when needed” are keys to success as they try to reach the program’s first state championship game since winning it all in 2011. Warren said the Texans continue to improve each week and that he doesn’t think “we’ve played our best football yet.”
“We didn’t set a goal (at the beginning of the season). We wanted rings or nothing at all,” McCollum said. “We’re going gold ball by gold ball. Every week we’re trying to get better, be who we are and spend it together. We’re going to the next round and do it again.”