CAPTION: Hawks senior running back Helijah Johnson exploits a gap for some yardage during the Canyon Lake-Wimberley season opener. The Wimberley Texans (1-0) won the game, 21-14. Photo by Daniel Clifton
After the Wimberley Texans jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Comal Canyon Lake Hawks could have folded their wings and called it a night. But instead they did the opposite.
In the end, the Texans (1-0) beat Canyon Lake (0-1) Friday, Aug. 26, 21-14 at Canyon Lake High School, but the Hawks battled right to the final buzzer even giving themselves a chance to tie the game.
“You can’t coach that,” said Canyon Lake head coach Charley Drum after the game about his team’s grit. “They have fight in them.”
The Texans jumped to an early lead on the opening drive of the game. Starting on their own 20-yard line, Wimberley pushed the ball down the field led by sophomore quarterback Cody Stoever.
The Texans had one touchdown called back due to a penalty, but it didn’t take long after the fact for them to hit pay dirt. Stoever punched it in on a 5-yard keeper, and the Texans jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
The Hawks punted on their first possession but pinned Wimberley on their own 2-yard line. However, the Texans offense rallied. Stoever gave his squad a tremendous boost with a 67-yard run to give Wimberley a first and 10 on the Hawks’ 23-yard line.
The Hawks defense held the Texans out of the end zone and forced the visiting team into a fourth and goal on the 3-yard line. Wimberley went for it, and Stoever connected with Cayden Heatly for the touchdown. And with 32 seconds left in the first quarter, Wimberley was up 14-0.
The second quarter featured both defenses containing the opposing offenses.
Eventually, the Texans offense looked to get its wheels moving following a Hawks punt. Stoever rambled for a 21-yard run giving the Texans a first down on their own 45.
But the Hawks defense shut the drive down after that. On the next play, the Hawks secondary gave Stoever no options downfield for a pass, while the Canyon Lake defensive line crashed through for a sack lead by senior Hayden Baker.
On the next play, Stoever handed off to Jack Boyle, but Hawks defensive end Jordan Hill slammed into him at the line of scrimmage denying any forward progress.
Hill and Baker, both seniors, are part of that strong line that gives the Hawks a lot of leadership and confidence this season.
The Hawks defense came up big on the next play when it forced a fumble which senior defensive back Chase Anderson snatched out of the air and returned to the Wimberley 45-yard line.
However, Wimberley pushed the Hawks back to the Canyon Lake 46-yard line setting up a third-and-20 situation. Hawks senior quarterback Hunter Anderson called his own number on the play, found a gap created by his offensive line, and then raced to the end zone with about 32 seconds left in the first half.
The two teams went into the half with Wimberley leading, 14-7.
“We did a good job and we regrouped,” said Drum on the Hawks’ response to the Texans’ early lead. “We scored that touchdown for the half, and it gave us a little juice and we came out fighting.”
In the second half, Wimberley scored with about 4:02 left in the third quarter on a Stoever-to-Boyle pass giving the Texans a 21-7 cushion.
But again, the Hawks fought back.
With under a minute left in the third quarter, Anderson scrambled outside, looked downfield, and connected with his brother Chase Anderson for a 31-yard touchdown pass, again cutting into the Texans lead, 21-14.
The Hawks defense held Wimberley on the ensuing drive, including another sack, to force the Texans to punt. The Texans defense held as well, forcing Canyon Lake to punt on their next offensive possession.
The Texans took over on their own 41-yard line and worked down to the Canyon Lake 34-yard line. The Hawks defense, again, held and put Wimberley in a fourth-and-9 situation.
The Texans went for it with Stoever calling his own number, but a swarm of Hawks met him well short of the first down marker.
A penalty pushed the Hawks back to their own 14 to start the drive with about 5 minutes left in the game. Senior running back Helijah Johnson pounded some yards out for the Hawks. Then on a handoff, receiver Chase Anderson looked like he was cut off and tackled by the Texans, but he stayed on his feet, reversed his direction and turned what looked to be a loss of yards into a first down.
Johnson, again, pounded out a tough seven yards, keeping his legs moving to pick up a couple of extra yards despite a cadre of Texans fighting to bring him down. Johnson continued to demonstrate Hawks fight and grit including on a fourth-and-3 call which he hammered out, behind his offensive line, for the first down that kept the late-game drive alive.
A few plays later, Hunter Anderson rolled out to his right with a number of defenders in his face, and launched a pass downfield where his brother jumped up for the grab. The reception set up a Canyon Lake first and 10 on the Texans’ 37-yard line.
The drive, however, ended with a Canyon Lake fumble on the Wimberley 32-yard line. The Hawks got one more shot after their defense held including a big-time sack by senior linebacker Adrian Duque. Following a Texans punt, Canyon Lake’s offense took over on their own 29-yard line with 10 seconds left in the game.
On the final play, the Hawks showed the tenacity and grit Drum referred to when Hunter Anderson pitched to Johnson. Instead of rambling downfield, Johnson turned to his left and passed downfield back to Hunter Chase on the backside draw.
Chase caught the ball at the Canyon Lake 40-yard line, then scrambled and fought until several Texans managed to haul him down at the Wimberley 37-yard line to end the game.
“We made plenty of mistakes, but they never gave up,” Drum said. “Their fight — that’s a big thing for us. A lot of teams, when the going gets rough like that, they start blaming each other, fighting each other. They stuck together, picked each other up.
We played as a team, we lost as a team,” the coach added. “We’re going to learn from it.”
The Hawks travel to face Fredericksburg at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2.
Watch videos on Highland Lakes sports by going to Jennifer Fierro’s YouTube channel and searching for The Broad Podcaster. Please like, subscribe and share.
CAPTION: The Canyon Lake Hawks defense — Sonny Bentley (left), Hayden Baker and Dylan Wunderlich — put pressure on Wimberley quarterback Cody Stoever. Photo By Daniel Clifton