Two of the most storied six-man football programs in the state of Texas will renew acquaintances at 7 p.m. Friday at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene with a berth in the Class A Division II state championship game on the line.
The eight-time state champion, top-ranked and undefeated Richland Springs Coyotes (11-0) — seeking their 10th overall appearance in a state final — will clash with the four-time state champion Strawn Greyhounds (9-4), who are chasing a third straight crown and fifth overall.
The Coyotes reached the state semifinals with perhaps their most complete effort of the season, a 72-12 thrashing of Oakwood — which ousted Richland Springs from the playoffs a year ago — in this past Friday's Region IV title tilt.
Meanwhile, the Greyhounds avenged a 27-26 district loss to archrival Gordon with a 64-40 triumph over the Longhorns on Thanksgiving night in the Region III final.
Along with the earlier loss to Gordon, Strawn has fallen to May (71-30) — which Richland Springs defeated 68-37 on opening weekend — Borden County (55-26) and Garden City (78-32).
In the Greyhounds' win over Gordon, J.W. Montgomery rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns to go with 120 passing yards and three scores. Matthew Garcia grabbed an 8-yard scoring toss, Speedy Lopez hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass, and Luke Eli contributed a 51-yard scoring reception. Lorenzo Garcia added a pair of 33-yard scoring sprints and Marco Lopez scored on a 1-yard plunge.
Strawn gave up one touchdown to Gordon in the first-half despite five possessions. The Greyhounds forced a pair of first-half turnovers and made a critical fourth-down stop in the opening half en route to a 28-8 halftime edge that eventually peaked at 36-8 early in the third period.
In Richland Springs' win over Oakwood, the Coyotes yielded 157 yards of total offense, created a pair of turnovers with one returned for a touchdown, and recorded a safety. Meanwhile, four Coyotes scored touchdowns as Richland Springs tallied 222 yards of total offense — all on the ground — and returned a pair of kicks for touchdowns.
Lane Shannon rushed for a team-high 76 yards and three scores and accounted for the two kick return touchdowns, both covering 45 yards. Landon Burkhart added 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground, Matthew Rigdon rushed for 60 yards and reached the end zone once and Griffin Rigdon scored twice while churning out 24 yards.
On the defensive end, Oakwood’s Key’Undre Davis — who rushed for 167 yards with three touchdowns and caught three passes for 55 yards and two more scores against the Coyotes in 2018 — was limited to one catch for 30 yards, one pass completion for 10 yards and -17 yards rushing on five carries before leaving the game with 1:49 left in the first period with a undisclosed injury and never returned.
Richland Springs enters Friday's contest producing 63 points and 396 yards — 279 rushing and 117 passing — per game with eight turnovers on the year, while giving up 25 points and 212 yards — 117 rushing and 95 passing — per outing, with 31 takeaways.
Leading rushers include Matthew Rigdon (1,072 yards, 19 TDs), Griffin Rigdon (555 yards, 17 TDs), Burkhart (483 yards, 7 TDs), Shannon (389 yards, 9 TDs), and Zane Capps (186 yards, 5 TDs).
Through the air, Matthew Rigdon has thrown for 874 yards with 12 touchdowns, Burkhart has passed for 239 yards and six scores and Capps has a touchdown pass and 62 yards.
Top receiving threats include Shannon (14-281, 4 TDs), Deklyn Chandler (9-200, 3 TDs), Wade Appleton (8-261, 5 TDs), Massiah Clarady (6-119, 2 TDs), Jadeyn Bryant (4-74, TD), Burkhart (3-90, TD), and Josiah Beam (3-42, TD).
Leading tacklers include Shannon (67 tackles, 14 for loss, 6.5 sacks, 3 FRs, 1 INT), Appleton (40.5 tackles, 8 for loss, 3 sacks, 4 INTs, 2 FRs), Burkhart (34.5 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1 sack, 4 FRs), Matthew Rigdon (31.5 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 2 INTs, 6 FRs), Chandler (19.5 tackles), Beam (18 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, 2 FRs), Griff Rigdon (15 tackles, 2.5 for loss), Clarady (17.5 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 INT), T.J. Grant (14.5 tackles, 3.5 for loss), Capps (13.5 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 1 INT) and Bryant (12.5 tackles, 4.5 for loss).
Friday's winner will face either Region I champion Motley County (10-3) or Region II champion Blackwell (13-0) in the Class A Division II state championship game at 2 p.m Wednesday, Dec. 18 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
According to sixmanfootball.com, Richland Springs is a 40-point favorite.