RICHLAND SPRINGS — The No. 5 Richland Springs Coyotes overcame obstacle after obstacle in their Class A Division II Region IV semifinal victory over Calvert last week, and will attempt to extend their season, and push their win streak to a dozen games, Friday night against the No. 6 Oakwood Panthers.
The battle for the Class A Division II Region IV championship between the Coyotes (11-1) and Panthers (9-3) will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Gatesville.
Richland Springs is coming off a 60-47 victory over Calvert, while Oakwood ended previously-undefeated Blanket’s season, 51-6, last week.
“We were able to overcome a lot of adversity, that’s what kept us in the game,” Richland Springs head coach Thomas Tipton said of the Coyotes’s victory over Calvert. “We gave them chances, we fumbled five times and lost two of those. We had two big injuries to two starters, but we overcame that adversity when we could have easily laid down and said we don’t have some starters and we already turned the ball over a few times, things aren’t going our way and we could have laid down, but we didn’t. The second string guys stepped up and got the job done. We kept grinding and toward the end of the game we got a big turnover at the end, we intercepted a pass with under two minutes left and that really gave us the momentum to finish strong.”
In Oakwood’s win over Blanket, the Panthers allowed just 176 yards and forced three turnovers. Offensively, Oakwood racked up 296 yards, with 257 coming on the ground. Key Davis finished with 153 yards and three rushing touchdowns, Garrett Bean added 84 yards on the ground and rushed, caught and returned a fumble for a touchdowns. Trisdon Bynum added a pair of scoring tosses threw the air.
Oakwood’s touchdowns last week came on a 2-yard toss from Bynum to Bean; runs of 6, 43, and 44 yards by Davis; an 18-yard pass from Bynum to Bastion Pickens; and Bean’s 17-yard scamper and 15-yard fumble return.
The Panthers, who led 28-6 at halftime, ended the contest with 4:35 left in regulation via the 45-point mercy rule.
“They have a ton of speed and they’re athletic,” Tipton said. “They rely on their athleticism to make big plays for them. They’ve done a good job of beating people this year strictly off athleticism. We’re going to have to slow them down. They have two big kids, No. 1 (Davis) and No. 7 (Bean), that can run the ball well and are able to break tackles. They kind of live and die by that, so we need to make sure we can corral those two and if we do that we should be OK.”
Richland Springs enters the contest averaging 61 points and 336 yards — 202 rushing and 124 passing — per game, with 10 turnovers.
Leading the rushing attack are Matthew Rigdon (983 yards, 20 TDs), Griffin Rigdon (744 yards, 15 TDs), Cameron Parham (325 yards, 6 TDs) and K.J. Simon (202 yards, 4 TDs). Through the air, Matthew Rigdon has completed 75 of 112 passes for 1,532 yards with 31 touchdowns and one interception, Appleton has thrown a 54-yard touchdown pass and Jayden Bryant is 3 of 3 for 26 yards and three touchdowns. Receiving threats include Josiah Beam (18-266, 6 TDs), Jared Martin (16-392, 10 TDs), Parham (11-239, 4 TDs), Griffin Rigdon (11-210, 3 TDs), Tippie (8-139, 3 TDs), Appleton (7-194, 4 TDs), and Bryant (4-118, 2 TDs).
Defensively, the Coyotes allow 24 points and 193 yards — 110 through the air and 83 on the ground — with 39 takeaways and 17 sacks.
Leading the charge on defense are Matthew Rigdon (39.5 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 5 interceptions, 7 fumble recoveries), Tippie (39 tackles, 15.5 for loss, 4 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries), Parham (39 tackles, 15 for loss, 6 sacks, 1 interception, 7 fumble recoveries), Simon (35.5 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries), Appleton (31.5 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 interception, 3 fumble recoveries), Beam (27.5 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 interception, 4 fumble recoveries), Martin (25 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries) and Griffin Rigdon (21 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries).
For the season, Richland Springs is plus 29 in turnover margin, a trend that must continue Friday night, according to Tipton.
“Any time you can be in the positive each game in turnovers, it usually goes hand-in-hand with a win or loss, especially this late in the year,” Tipton said. “We can’t afford to have five fumbles and lose two of them in the playoffs and still expect to come out with a victory. When you have a turnover, that could be the extra possession you needed, or the other team needed, to beat you. We have to stay in the positive with turnovers.”
According to sixmanfootball.com, Richland Springs is a 2-point favorite.
Friday’s winner will face either No. 1 Strawn (10-2) or No. 4 Iredell (11-0) in the Class A Division II state semifinals next weekend.