Gatesville's T.J. Miller (34) recovers a Burnet fumble in the first half Friday night in Burnet.

Dennis Knowlton | Herald

Jett Truss has not forgotten about last year. He just cannot afford to think about it. 

In 2015, Gatesville had a pair of improbable runs end at the hands of China Spring.

First, after losing five of their first six games, the Hornets’ three-game winning streak, which clinched a playoff berth and concluded a two-year absence, was snapped by the Cougars. Then, three weeks later, China Spring ended Gatesville’s season in the third round of the playoffs.

Heading into Friday’s District 13-4A, Division I contest against No. 6 China Spring, Truss remembers the defeats but refuses to dwell on them.

“I’m focused on the present,” the junior quarterback said. “We don’t have a lot of players left who played in that last game, and yeah, it is in the back of our heads, but the most important thing is the game in front of us.”

Gatesville’s playoff hopes could potentially hinge on the outcome after the Hornets lost a double overtime heartbreaker at Burnet last week, falling 38-35.

Now, the final three weeks of the season consist of two state-ranked opponents in China Spring and No. 3 Waco La Vega and a road game at Liberty Hill.

While the loss at Burnet hurt Gatesville’s postseason hopes, and the Cougars were responsible for ending last season’s impressive turnaround, neither will play a factor, according to Truss.

“We don’t really have time to live in the past,” he said. “We don’t have time to harp on old games when we have an important game right in front of us. The biggest game of our season is this next one.”

Like the Hornets, China Spring is coming off a disappointing performance as well.

After posting at least 49 points and winning by 36 points or more in each of their first six games, the Cougars suffered their first blemish last week as defending state champion La Vega earned a 17-10 victory.

Undoubtedly, China Spring will be looking to bounce back against Gatesville, but the Hornets feel they also have something to prove.

Gatesville (4-3, 1-1) committed four turnovers at Burnet, negating another impressive performance from junior running back Alex Thompson, who rushed for a career-high 337 yards on 34 carries and scored two touchdowns. Additionally, Truss accounted for more than 200 total yards and three scores, while four Hornets — Zach Mueller, Sam Jackson, T.J. Miller and Austin Bayer — recorded at least eight tackles on defense.

The production was not enough to emerge victorious, but Hornets head coach Kyle Cooper is certain his team will be prepared to move forward.

After all, Gatesville cannot afford to think about the past.

“We’ll bounce back,” Cooper said. “These guys have a lot of heart, passion and drive.

“So, we’re going to be ready to bounce back and fight our way through the toughest district in the state.”

Contact Clay Whittington at

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