Vialpando returns to the football pitch after horrific injury

All Bricen Vialpnado remembers from that night is the pain – the worst he had ever felt.

It was Nov. 11, 2021, and Vialpando was quarterbacking the Wichita Falls High football team in a bi-district playoff game against Grapevine. He was rolling when he was hit from behind.

It was Vialpando’s last game of the senior football season. His hip dislocated during the tackle.

Old High coach Grant Freeman was with Vialpando the entire time he was on the court. Freeman described a heartbreaking scene and choked up talking about it hours after the game.

Continued:Wichita Falls High plagued by missed opportunities in 44-7 loss to Grapevine

Vialpando was convinced that the rest of his senior year, including the football season, had been lost to the injury.

“That’s all I thought the whole ambulance ride to the hospital,” Vialpando said. “I didn’t think I would have the chance to play anything. I thought football was definitely over.

WFHS football coach Patrick McCauley had the same thought.

Wichita Falls High's Bricen Vialpando jumps over the ball against Rider on Friday February 11, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

“I told him I didn’t expect him to play,” McCauley said. “I didn’t think there was a chance. I knew he was going to try, so I thought if he came back, great. But I was preparing not to get it back.

Then the doctor told Vialpando that there might be a chance. He committed to rehab and was restricted in practice for weeks.

And once it was released for gaming action…

“I put him in the starting lineup,” McCauley said.

On February 9, Vialpando started his first game of the season, scoring a goal in the fifth minute of the match.

On Friday, Vialpando scored again, helping the Coyotes to a 3-2 win over rival Rider.

“It’s great to be back with my team,” said Vialpando. “I love winning. And I love my football boys.

“I still have a ways to go. I haven’t been able to play a full game without cramps yet. I’m just trying to put everything back together.”

Wichita Falls High's Bricen Vialpando kicks the ball toward the net past Brewer's Luis Solis on Wednesday February 9, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

Vialpando is a key cog in the Coyotes’ game plan, serving as a leader on a team made up of seniors and providing versatility.

“I can put it in any position,” McCauley said. “He played as a central defender. He played outside. He played centre-forward and that’s what he played (against Rider). He’s super athletic, gives us speed and he can hold the ball.

“He’s just a competitor. He just picks the team. It’s going to be important going forward that our guys know he’s in the lineup.

Friday was a great day for Vialpando. Not only was he able to play football and score a goal, but he was also named to the third-team Class 5A football as a Texas Sports Writers Association punter.

Continued:Rider’s Willis, Old High’s Vialpando Named Third Team All-State by TSWA

Vialpando hopes this is just the start of a great final semester at WFHS.

“I feel like this team right now, we’re starting to find each other,” Vialpando said. “We started slowly this year, but we are missing some guys. We just had a lot of injuries. Now we are all back. Our team is starting to find each other, and it’s starting to get a lot better.