RICHLAND SPRINGS — The head coach who guided the Richland Springs Coyotes to a state record six state championships in six-man football is leaving the school.
Jerry Burkhart announced Thursday he has resigned to take the head football coach position at Gordon. His final day at Richland Springs will be May 3, and he will begin at Gordon on May 6. Longtime assistant Shawn Rogers was voted the new Richland Springs athletic director at the school board meeting this past Monday, but a decision regarding the new head football coach has not yet been made.
"I strongly believe God opens and closes doors for you," Burkhart said. "Richland Springs has been awesome, from the community to the fans to the administration to the school board, and especially kids. But we're getting low on kids and budget cuts are happening and I'm at a place in life where I can apply for a job and feel like I have a good shot at getting it.
"I got a phone call from Gordon and everything fell into place. Here, with the way the state is, they're going to have to make cuts. My wife, who is a first grade teacher, and myself both resigned from Richland Springs, so that should free up a lot of money. They still have some decisions to make, but they're going to have an awesome team again next year."
Burkhart stated telling his players that he was leaving Richland Springs was among the the toughest moments of his career.
"One of the hardest things I've had to do is face the kids and tell them when they've believed so much in me and done so much for me as their coach," Burkhart said. "But I feel good about leaving the program in good hands. Coach Rogers has been with me with for eight years. Some people are probably upset and some people are probably happy, but I just had a gut feeling it was time to move on. As for my run here, I give God all the glory."
During Burkhart's time at Richland Springs, the Coyotes posted a 135-5 record and are in the midst of a 45-game win streak, with three consecutive Six-Man Division II state championships to their credit.
The Coyotes won their first state title in 2004 — defeating Turkey Valley, 58-38 — and followed with state championships in 2006 (78-58 over Rule), 2007 (98-54 over Rule), 2010 (46-0 over Sterling City), 2011 (76-28 per Motley County) and 2012 (60-14 over Follett).
"God has blessed me so much," Burkhart said. "This program is not about just Jerry Burkhart, it's been all of us — the coaches, administration, school board and most of all the kids. They work so hard and give you all they've got. They believe in the program and want to win at everything they do. I'm walking away from a good situation and into a town that's prideful of a couple of state championships of their own. That does make us nervous as a family and I know what the expectations are at Gordon. But it's exciting to start something new."
Richland Springs and Gordon met on the gridiron last season, but Burkhart stated both he and Rogers agreed the two teams would not square off in the 2013 campaign.
"I told him I didn't want to face Richland Springs and he said he didn't want to face me," Burkhart said. "It would just be too hard emotionally for everyone involved."