The regular season is over and seven teams in the Bulletin’s coverage still have state championship aspirations. Six will attempt to keep their seasons alive and join the Goldthwaite Eagles, who have a bye this week, in the second round.
The docket is heavy with six-man games with only one 11-man contest — San Saba vs. Cayuga — on the slate.
Among the six-man battles, Division II No. 1 Richland Springs seeks its 41st straight victory overall as the Coyotes continue their quest for a three-repeat and state record sixth state championship.
Division I No. 10 Zephyr will look to ride the momentum of last week’s lopsided victory and successful coin flip, while attempting to exorcise last year’s first-round playoff demons.
The Blanket Tigers are in the playoffs for the first under head coach Tyler Tabor, while the Santa Anna Mountaineers ended a six-year playoff absence and 24-year district championship drought to qualify for postseason action. Also, following a one-year hiatus the Sidney Eagles are making their fourth trip to the playoffs in five seasons.
No. 10 Zephyr (7-3) vs. Gordon (7-3)
7:30 p.m. SATURDAY at HICO
On the outside looking in this time a week ago, the Zephyr Bulldogs routed Rochelle, 56-28, Friday night, then won a three-way coin toss along with Santa Anna to return to the playoffs for the second time in as many seasons.
Zephyr posted a 10-0 regular season record in 2011, only to be bounced from the playoffs in the first round. With both a much more difficult pre-district and district schedule, the Bulldogs should be better prepared to make a lengthy playoff run.
The Gordon Longhorns are no slouches, however, with their only losses coming to Division No. 1 Ira (28-24), defending TCAL Division II state champion Stephenville Faith (44-35) and two-time defending Division II state champion Richland Springs (92-44). Gordon also owns a 36-34 victory over Division II No. 9 Strawn.
The Bulldogs enter the contest averaging 52 points per outing while surrendering 27.
Derek Jesko has rushed for 1,164 yards and 21 touchdowns to pace the Zephyr offense, while also passing for 122 yards and four scores. Dakota Rogers has chipped in 688 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground and Josh Todd has thrown for 462 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensively, Jesko’s 74 tackles are a team-high trailed by 57 and six interceptions by Todd, 46 by Dillon Williams and 21 by Jayden Choat.
The Longhorns are producing 55 points a game and surrendering 32.
According to sixmanfootball.com, Zephyr is a 10-point favorite.
Friday’s winner will face either Savoy (9-0) or Walnut Springs (6-4) in the second round of the playoffs.
Blanket (5-5) vs. Cherokee (5-4)
7:30 p.m. FRIDAY at LOMETA
The playoffs for the Blanket Tigers figuratively began last week as head coach Tyler Tabor’s squad knocked off the Mullin Bulldogs, 66-46, to earn the second seed from Six-Man Division II District 13.
Awaiting the Tigers are the District 14 champion Cherokee Indians, who carry a four-game win streak into the playoffs. Cherokee defeated district rivals Prairie Lea (62-0) and Oglesby (71-22), along with Lohn (80-16) and Cedar Park Summit (75-19) during the win streak.
Cherokee, which averages 48 points and allows 38 per outing, also owns a victory over Lometa (54-28) with losses at the hands of Abilene Christian (88-34), Rochelle (50-44), Richland Springs (70-6) and Zephyr (72-6).
Blanket enters the game averaging 36 points and 305 yards — 190 rushing and 115 passing — per contest, while giving up 40 points and 348 yards — 246 rushing and 102 rushing.
Rafael Marquez has rushed for 1,341 yards and 18 touchdowns for Blanket trailed by 225 yards and three touchdowns from Tyler Martinez and 187 yards and 11 scores from Kaeden Chasteen.
Chasteen also leads Blanket with 32 catches for 482 yards with eight touchdowns, while other top receiving threats include Rowdy Johnson (12-162, 2 TDs), (Marquez 7-122, 2 TDs), Jaime Mares (6-97, 2 TDs), Wesley Musick (5-54, TD), Caleb Wigham (5-42, TD) and Jason Valdez (3-58, TD).
According to sixmanfootball.com, Blanket is a 14-point underdog.
Friday’s winner will face either No. 2 Milford (10-0) or Cranfills Gap (3-6) in the second round of the playoffs.
No. 1 Richland Springs (10-0)
vs. Oglesby (3-6)
7:30 p.m. FRIDAY at EVANT
The two-time defending Six-Man Division II state champion Richland Springs Coyotes will continue their journey toward history Friday night as they chase a state record sixth state championship.
The District 13 champion Coyotes carry a 40-game win streak into the playoffs following last week’s 61-0 victory at Brookesmith.
The Oglesby Tigers, the District 14 runners-up, are coming off a 51-6 victory over Prairie Lea in their regular season finale. Oglesby also defeated Cranfills Gap (53-48) and Kopperl (75-72), while the Tigers have fallen against Mullin (64-36), Calvert (57-12), Sidney (92-45), Iredell (65-20), Evant (80-73) and Cherokee (71-22).
Richland Springs rolls into the postseason averaging 65 points and 303 yards of total offense — 216 rushing and 87 passing — per contest, while giving up 13 points a game.
Chance Bush has rushed for 1,746 yards and 42 touchdowns while completing 40 of 53 passes for 795 yards and 19 scores. Brian Salinas has chipped in 269 yards and five touchdowns on the ground and caught six passes for 157 yards and three scores.
Other offensive threats include Gunner Mann (5-132, 3 TDs receiving; 1-45, TD rushing), Ty Mann (9-71, 4 TDs rushing; 1-10, TD receiving), Thomas Fowler (10-113, 4 TDs receiving), Chris Munoz (6-127, 3 TDs receiving) and Patrick Phillips (5-114, 2 TDs receiving).
Bush’s 49 tackles also serve as a team high followed by 33 from Salinas and 31 from Munoz.
According to sixmanfootball.com, Richland Springs is a 45-point favorite.
Friday’s winner will face either No. 3 Jonesboro (8-2) or Trinidad (7-3) in the second round next week.
Santa Anna (9-1) vs. Lingleville (7-3)
7:30 p.m. FRIDAY at MAY
Ending a playoff absence that extended to 2006, and a district championship drought all the way back to 1988, the Santa Anna Mountaineers are targeting double digits in the win column and the continuation of their season.
Lingleville, which joined the six-man football ranks in 2010, is making its first postseason appearance as the runner-up from Six-Man Division I District 10.
The Mountaineers, whose only loss was a 78-48 decision to Rochelle, are averaging 58 points and 388 yards — 278 rushing and 110 passing — per contest.
Michael Valencia has rushed for 2,020 yards and 29 touchdowns and passed for 822 yards and 24 scores to spark the Santa Anna offense.
Lucas Diaz has chipped in 730 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground and caught 11 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, while Talon King has thrown for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Zach Diaz leads the Mountaineers with 12 receptions for 236 yards and seven trips to the end zone.
Defensively, Nate Salazar has posted a team-high 73 tackles and five sacks followed by 71 from Valencia, 49 tackles and five sacks from Colby Nelson and 43 tackles from Josh Perez.
Lingleville, which averages 58 points and surrenders 23 a game, has lost to Sidney (42-20), Dallas Academy (58-36) and Gordon (81-34).
According to sixmanfootball.com, Santa Anna is a 45-point favorite.
Friday’s winner will face either Blum (6-4) or Saint Jo (6-4) in the second round.
Sidney (9-1) vs. Newcastle (6-4)
7:30 p.m. FRIDAY at STRAWN
The Sidney Eagles are back in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus and look to oust the Newcastle Bobcats in Six-Man Division II opening round action.
Sidney, the District 12 runner-up, has lost only to No. 9 Strawn (46-0). Victories for the Eagles have come at the expense of Dublin Premiere (72-0), Granbury Cornerstone (48-32), Lingleville (42-20), Oglesby (92-45), Cranfills Gap (63-36), Gustine (84-34), Comanche Premier (73-23), Moran (52-6) and Rising Star (70-57).
In last week’s playoff-clinching victory over Rising Star, Sidney produced 487 yards of total offense, with 383 coming on the ground. Chris Dominguez scored on runs of 18, 24, 27, 20, 10 and 19 yards, returned a kick 45 yards for six points and threw scoring strikes of 23, 26 and 10 yards to Blake Crawford.
Newcastle, which scores 41 points and surrenders 33 per game on average, enters the playoffs with wins over Knox City (46-40), the Knox City JV (46-28), Loraine (54-8), Forestburg (52-0), Gold-Burg (64-6) and Woodson (52-36). Losses have come at the hands of Paducah (62-56), Abilene Christian (62-20), May (36-14) and Strawn (54-8).
The Bobcats have won six of their last seven since starting 0-3.
According to sixmanfootball.com, Sidney is a 28-point underdog.
Friday’s winner will face either No. 4 Aspermont (10-0) or Northside (7-2) in the second round.
San Saba (5-5) vs. Cayuga (7-3)
7:30 p.m. FRIDAY at JOSHUA
The San Saba Armadillos are making their fourth straight playoff appearance, and the first during that string as a Class A program, as they square off with Cayuga Friday night in Division I-A Region II bi-district action.
San Saba shared the District 5-A Division I championship along with Goldthwaite and Hico, but finished as the third seed.
Cayuga, the second seed from District 6-A Division I, defeated Cushing (43-25), Wortham (35-7), Overton (49-6), Kerens (33-30), Itasca (20-0), Cross Roads (49-14) and Dallas Gateway Charter Academy (54-28). Losses have occurred against Mount Enterprise (34-24), Carlisle (49-6) and Italy (20-16).
The Armadillos average 21 points and 258 yards — 210 rushing and 48 passing — per game, while allowing 19 points.
Sean Argote has rushed for 880 yards and five touchdowns, trailed by Garrett Hartranft (349 yards, 3 TDs) and Kelan Verette (303 yards, TD).
Defensive leaders for San Saba include Kolton Ellis (88 tackles), Juan Ortega (83 tackles), Aaron Perez (73 tackles) and Diego Montoya (69 tackles).
The winner of Friday’s game will meet District 7-A Division I champion Lindsay (8-2) in the second round of the playoffs.
Goldthwaite (5-5), bye
The District 5-A Division I tri-champion Goldthwaite Eagles received a first-round playoff bye for being the top seed from the district.
The Eagles — who are coming off a 9-6 loss to Hico in the regular season finale — will face either Collinsville (7-3) or Wolfe City (5-5) in their playoff opener next week.