RICHLAND SPRINGS — The last 72 regular season contests have all ended the same for six-man football powerhouse Richland Springs — with the Coyotes coming out on top. This weekend, however, Richland Springs is hoping the right set of Coyotes emerge victorious.
In one of the premier Week 1 six-man showdowns across the state, the Division I No. 3 Richland Springs Coyotes will tangle with the Division II No. 1 Borden County Coyotes at 7 p.m. Saturday at Trent’s Gorilla Stadium.
Richland Springs (1-0), which is coming off a 50-0 season-opening victory over defending TCAF Division II state champion Azle Christian, has captured three state championships in the last five seasons. Borden County (1-0), which hammered Division I New Home by a 58-8 count last week, is the reigning Six-Man Division II state champion.
“We don’t ever address the win streak. I don’t even know what it is right now,” said Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart, who collected his 80th win in 83 games with the Coyotes last week. “We know this is going to be a good test for us early in the season and we’re excited to have it. This game can expose some weaknesses for us, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
In Richland Springs’ opening victory, the Coyotes racked up 388 yards of total offense, while limiting Azle Christian to 159. The Coyotes scored on seven first-half possessions, while the defense forced three turnovers.
“I feel like we improved a lot from our scrimmages with our tackling and the kids being aggressive. That’s really one thing we focused on in practice,” Burkhart said. “Offensively we did a better job getting our blocks. We’re not where we want to be yet, but our kids are improving and that’s what we want to see as a coaching staff.”
Richland Springs spread back Haustin Burkhart picked up where he left off following a junior campaign in which he rushed for 1,398 yards and 30 touchdowns and completed 101-of-155 passes for 1,903 yards with 34 touchdowns. In the opener, Burkhart ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns on four carries, while throwing for 137 yards and four touchdowns on 5-of-8 passing.
Tommy Hollon caught touchdown passes of 45 and 16 yards, and ran 39 yards for a score, while David Veitch grabbed scoring tosses of 15 and 32 yards.
“We ran a lot of sweeps to try and establish our running game,” said Burkhart, whose team rushed for 237 yards and passed for 151. “We had some great blocks and Haustin did a good job reading the defense and taking advantage of the opportunities they were giving us.”
Richland Springs expects a tougher challenge from a speedy Borden County defense that returns five starters from last season’s 14-0 squad.
“They’re a very athletic team that has almost everybody back, and their quickness is something that concerns us,” Burkhart said. “Offensively we’re going to have to block and read their defense because they mix it up a lot to try and confuse teams. They’ll run a lot of stunts and blitzes.”
The Richland Springs defense actually played better the closer Azle Christian got to threatening the end zone, which Burkhart feels is a plus the Coyotes can build on this week.
“Our coverages were a little weak, but we did come up and make some open field tackles better than we did against Sidney (in the second scrimmage),” Burkhart said. “There were two or three times Azle got inside the red zone and our kids stepped it up.”
Borden County also returns five offensive starters, including its own game changer in senior Michael Cooley, who is coming off a junior season in which he rushed for 2,480 yards and 47 touchdowns. Flynn Chapman is also back after rushing for 698 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“They don’t have a slow kid on the field,” Burkhart said. “They run some tight (formation) and they run a shotgun set. They run sweeps well and block good. We’re going to have to make sure tackles and play our positions and not worry about anything else.”