RICHLAND SPRINGS — What has become a six-man football postseason tradition — a meeting between Richland Springs and Calvert — again takes place at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Gatesville as the No. 8 Coyotes (10-1) eye an 11th straight victory, but the No. 6 Trojans (8-2) stand in their path.
Since the year 2000, Richland Springs and Calvert have crossed paths in the postseason nine times, with the Coyotes claiming six of those battles including the most recent meeting in 2016. Richland Springs’ triumph that year snapped a two-game Calvert win streak, as the Trojans ended the Coyotes’ seasons in both 2013 and 2014.
“They may not be as big as they have been in the past, but they’re just as quick and fast,” said Richland Springs first-year head coach Thomas Tipton. “They still throw the ball pretty well, so overall they’re pretty much what we expect out of Calvert. Each and every year they’re athletic and they’re a team that never goes away. It doesn’t matter what the first half score is, winning or losing in the second half they’re going to come out and play hard. We always have to be on our game throughout the whole four quarters against them. They’re going to be fast and athletic as always, every year we play them they seem to have so much speed. We’re going to have to really contain that and make some open field tackles.”
Calvert carries a four-game win streak into Friday’s contest, having defeated Trinidad, 48-14, in the bi-district round last week. The Trojans’ win streak comes on the heels of back-to-back losses to Coolidge (28-19) and Milford (54-28).
Since dropping the season opener at May (40-26), Richland Springs has pieced together another string of victories in the double digits, as the Brookesmith Mustangs became the latest victim last weekend in a 53-6 bi-district thrashing.
The Coyotes jumped out to a 32-0 lead after one quarter last week en route to generating 312 total yards — 209 rushing and 103 passing. Griffin Rigdon rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, Matthew Rigdon passed for 103 yards and two scores and Jared Martin and Josiah Beam hauled in touchdown receptions. Cameron Parham and Matthew Rigdon also scored on the ground.
Defensively, Richland Springs gave up just 88 yards — all through the air, as the Coyotes allowed 0 yards rushing on 18 carries — with four takeaways, bringing its total to 37 in 11 games. Matthew Rigdon scored on a fumble recovery and picked off a pass, while Wade Appleton led the way with 4.5 tackles.
“I think we did pretty well,” Tipton said in assessing the Coyotes’ performance. “I keep going back to us having too many penalties for one half of football. We had five penalties for 60 yards, somewhere in there. I told the kids if we had that for a whole game that’s over 100 yards of penalties and we can’t afford to have that in the playoffs. The later the round the harder it gets, so we really need to cut back on that.
“Other than that, we had some really good open field tackles, and we executed on offense really well. We had one incompletion, no turnovers, so I was happy with that. We caused three turnovers and returned an onside kick, so overall well we did extremely well. We’ve gotten a lot better each week so if we can just eliminate the penalties we’ll get that much better. Calvert is the type of team if you give them those penalty yards they’re going to capitalize on it pretty quick.”
Calvert enters the contest averaging 39 points and yielding 15 per game.
“We need to avoid the big plays,” Tipton said in regard to the keys to a victory. “We can’t afford to miss two or three tackles on one play and they break one for 40, 50 yards. We have to open field tackle, that’s a huge, huge part of the game for us.
“Then on offense, we just have to block, block, block and execute. If we do that, we’ll be fine on offense. We’re a good blocking team, and we’re throwing the ball a lot better this year than we have so I’m pretty excited about it.”
According to sixmanfootball.com, Richland Springs is a 1-point underdog.
Friday’s winner will face either No. 7 Oakwood (8-3) or Blanket (11-0) in the Class A Division II Region IV championship game next weekend.