RICHLAND SPRINGS — Going into two-a-days and the start of football practice across Texas, many questions loom large over area programs for high school football fans. No program is being watched more intently in six-man football than Division II six-man champion Richland Springs Coyotes.
The Coyotes have won 45 games in a row and three straight state titles going into head coach Jerry Burkhart’s 11th season as head coach.
Burkhart, who has won the state title in six of his 10 seasons as head coach, returns to the Coyote sidelines after a short trip to Gordon, where he briefly took the athletic director and coaching duties before having a change of heart and coming back to Richland Springs.
Going into the 2013 season, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine has Richland Springs ranked No. 5 in the state. Burkhart sees this as a motivational tool to fuel his players to work harder.
“They raise the bar every year for us, it just makes our kids work harder,” Burkhart said. “The rankings are more for the fans. We use it as a motivational tool. Tell the players look, they don’t respect us, it makes them work harder.”
Burkhart is expecting fewer kids than usual this year at two-a-days, a factor that causes him problems on the depth chart.
“I’m looking at 13 kids at the first day of practice. We usually average 15-20, sometimes as many as 25,” Burkhart said.
Burkhart is pleased with the talent that he does have returning and hopes the younger players will step up and get playing time.
“We’ve got good kids right now, just not a lot of depth,” Burkhart said. “The good news is the junior high is loaded so we will have some depth coming up for the future,” Burkhart said.
Burkhart sees the Six-Man Division II District 13 as wide open with all the teams having a shot this year at making the postseason.
“Blanket, Mullin and Brookesmith are all good programs. Coach (Tyler) Tabor over at Blanket has done a great job getting his kids ready, Coach (Jeremy) Black out at Brookesmith is turning his program around, and you can’t rule out Mullin either.”
Key players coming back are newcomer of the year sophomore Bryan Salinas and senior Ty Mann who will trade off tailback and spreadback duties.
“We are expecting huge things out of those two. They will have to step up and take the role that Chance Bush had,” Burkhart said.
Key losses from last years championship team include six-man player of the year Chance Bush, who strained his ACL in the last all-star game he played in at Lubbock, according to coach Burkhart.
“Chance had a shot at playing at the next level, but he wants to be a coach so he has started school in Austin,” Burkhart said.
Two-a-days start in Richland Springs on Aug. 5 at 7 a.m.
Burkhart is ready to get the season going and find out who he has and what they can do. A fourth straight state title is the goal. Anything less is not even discussed.