WIMBERLEY – Basking in the glow of a nail-biting 24-22 comeback win over the rival Canyon Lake Hawks Friday was a moment Wimberley Texans head coach Doug Warren savored.
After all, just getting to the point of playing a football game seemed like a pipe dream several weeks prior.
But on Friday, amid so much uncertainty in the nation and the world, Wimberley (1-0) and Canyon Lake (0-1) joined hundreds of small high schools across the state in becoming the first programs in more than six months to compete on the field.
It was a welcome respite for Warren, his players and a community who understand in a world with COVID-19,
nothing, not even Texas high school football, is guaranteed.
“For us to come out, on one night, and have two communities that are tied to each other put their differences aside and cheer for the red, white and navy blue or green and white, to me that’s what it’s about,” Warren said. “Community coming together and cheering not only the football players but those who put this on and are doing their part.
“That’s why it was so special, because we got to do that tonight, because we don’t know how many more times we’ll get to do that the rest of the year.”
Playing on the field was just as meaningful for senior quarterback Matthew Tippie, who is part of a class that hopes to keep playing as long as possible.
“Our senior class, we have a talented senior class this year,” Tippie said. “We have a lot of seniors who are leaders. It’s going to be a really good year.”
Notching that first win, however, proved challenging as state-ranked Wimberley overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit in order to escape an upset. Guiding the way was Tippie who went 13 of 22 for 214 yards and two critical passing touchdowns, both in the fourth frame.
More leadership and an increase in energy played a key factor for the Texan offense in the final minutes, said Tippie. Warren attributed success to the Texans’ willingness to battle back and keep fighting, even during struggles in the second and third quarters. He also lauded Tippie, a summer transfer from Burnet High, who became more comfortable in the new system as the game wore on.
“We just found a way to hang in there and make plays. That’s the makeup of this program. These guys always believe they’re in every game and found a way to win,” said Warren.
Meanwhile, Wimberley’s defense, which struggled at times to corral a formidable Hawk ground game, found its footing and kept Canyon Lake scoreless down the stretch. That included a key turnover on downs that allowed Tippie and the Texans to score the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
But equally as important was a critical goal line stand in the final minute. Despite having the ball at the Texan 3-yard line, Canyon Lake couldn’t break through on four consecutive plays, ending its final threat at an upset.
“It just came down to will at that point in time. Just willing yourself to take on that extra block or make that extra play,” Warren said. “To me, that’s just Wimberley Texan football. These kids never believe they’re out of a game. It goes a long way in high school football.”
Wimberley will now ready itself for back-to-back nondistrict road tests as the Texans travel to powerhouse Cuero Sept. 4, followed by state-ranked Lampasas Sept. 11. Even with the uncertainty of the season continuing past this week, Tippie and his teammates will prepare regardless.
“Those are two really tough teams. We need to really work hard in practice this week and step up,” Tippie said.