CROSS PLAINS, Texas (BCH Sports) – On the football field of the Cross Plains Buffaloes, there’s one less young man in his cleats and shoulder pads. The loss of a teammate caused widespread pain to the Buffaloes, but they say they’re stronger together – even crediting much of their success this season to being watched over.

Cross Plains ISD’s Head Coach Daniel Purvis called the loss of 18-year-old Ryan Hopkins ‘devastating.’

“It was devastating and he’s still on our mind, we’re still thinking about him we’re still talking about him,” said Coach Purvis. “We’re still healing, we’re still dealing with it, we’re still processing that as a team and as a community.”

Hopkins died tragically as the result of a car wreck that happened on Sunday morning, August 7, right before the start of the school year and football season. His death touched the hearts of most across the Big Country, but especially so in the Cross Plains community.

Not only did Hopkins’ loss hit the community especially hard, but it really shows within the Cross Plains High football team.

“When one of them [football players] is not here, they’re going to pick him up. They’re worried about him or asking me about him… If I heard from him or what’s going on. So, these kids are close, and I think that shows on the field,” Coach Purvis explained.

Since the start of the season, Purvis and the men in purple and gold currently have a 3-0 record.

Coach Purvis continued, “When something like that happens, its either going to pull you together or push you apart and our kids are fortune to chosen to let it pull them together… And they care about each other, they fight for each other.

The last time the Buffaloes were 3-0 was back in 2019.

“I don’t think we’ll be where we are without him, I think he’s watching down on us and I think he will until the season is over and honestly probably on every incoming team,” said teammate Alex Parker.

Jaeden Box continued on Alex’s train of thought, “Of course, Hops with us every step of the way. He’s the main reason why we’re doing so good. He’s right behind us pushing us towards the end zone every play.”

Coach Purvis told BCH Sports, although the loss of Hopkins is a tragedy the team won’t soon forget, this year’s goal is nothing different from the last.

“No Cross Plains team has ever been passed the second round, and that’s our goal,” explained Coach Purvis. “That’s been our goal ever since we got here, but maybe this is the year.”

With number 32 with them every step of the way, the Buffaloes are now driven more than ever.

“It’s a special place for us and we feel like we’re really tough to beat here… We feel like people don’t want to come plays us here and we like it like that,” Coach Purvis added. “So, we’re proud of that fact and we want to keep that home field advantage and he’s a part of it.”

The Cross Plains Buffaloes will face the Junction Eagles at home Friday night, September 16. Good luck, Buffaloes!