The Richland Springs Coyotes successfully completed their quest for back-to-back-to-back State Championships last Saturday at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene with a resounding victory over the Follett Panthers. The game was ended early in the third quarter due to the mercy-rule. The Six-Man record books will be rewritten as the Coyotes earned their sixth State Championship, replacing the legendary Fort Hancock teams of the late 80’s and early 90’s as the winningest Championship team in six-man history. Richland Springs has won State Titles in 6 of last 9 years, the first in 2004, followed by victories in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012. Head Coach Jerry Burkhart, a certain future Hall of Fame selection, increased his amazing won-loss record to 135-5, since taking over as Head Coach in 2003.
The 2012 Coyote team will always be remembered for their heart and desire to win, facing bigger, faster and more athletic teams in the playoffs, the 2012 Coyotes rose up to every challenge and succeeded in carrying on the winning tradition that is “Richland Springs football.” Every team in the state has a desire to win, but few teams are willing to put forth the effort towards preparation that is necessary to accomplish that goal. From early off-season weight-training to the weekly post-season pre-game workouts, these boys didn’t just talk-the-talk and go through the motions, they made the extraordinary effort that only true Champions realize is necessary.
The game itself was rather anti-climactic as the tenacious Coyote defense held the Panthers on the first three Panther offensive series and turned the ball over to Coach Shawn Rogers’ virtually unstoppable offensive squadron. The Coyote sweep is a thing of beauty to watch, mindful of an elite group of jet-fighters in a dogfight. Chance Bush led by Thomas Fowler and Brian Salinas majestically turning the corner in a tight formation, the wingmen peeling off on vectors to eliminate potential bogeys with devastating blocks, clearing the runways for the ultimate target….the goal line. With Gunner Mann, Patrick Phillips, and Chris Munoz sealing the inside defenders, it was easy to see “touchdown !!!” as the play was unfolding. Oft times it was Salinas being led by Fowler and Bush, but the result was the same…. pay dirt and 6 points. The Panthers finally scored midway through the second period and then recovered an onside kick and scored again to close within 8 points but the Coyotes answered right back with 38 unanswered points. You know the Follett coaches had to expect pressure from the Coyotes but the Panthers appeared to be ill-prepared for this level of intense and constant defensive pressure, fumbling twice, giving up an interception, and dropping numerous passes.
Chance Bush (Maverick) owned the airways, completing 10 of 11 passes for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chance traveling at Mach 2 (with his hair on fire) scored the first three Coyote touchdowns on the ground before finding Patrick Phillips for 11 yards and Brian Salinas for 39
yards and touchdowns to stretch the Coyote lead to 38-14 at the half. Chance led the Coyotes in tackles with 5 solo tackles and three assists. Defensive MVP last year, Chance was awarded the Offensive MVP this year.
Brian Salinas (Viper) has emerged as a formidable offensive threat, leaving smoking contrails as he rushed 9 times for 66 yards and two touchdowns and catching another for 39 yards and another TD. Brian added 4 solo tackles on defense and even more highlight reel crackback blocks.
Thomas (IceMan) Fowler, the cool, collected, Coyote quarterback, triggered the amazing Coyote offense with deadly accuracy, lead blocking with laser-guided precision and catching 3 passes for 92 yards including one, a 54 pass and run for 6 points with his afterburners lit up. Thomas had 4 solo tackles and an assist on the defensive side of the ball.
Ty (Merlin) Mann, normally an offensive threat, was the magician on defense, eluding blocks and mystically appearing in the Panther spreadbacks’ face all day long. Ty had 3 solo tackles and 2 assists and two huge sacks along with a big fourth down interception. Ty was awarded the Defensive MVP trophy for his outstanding, determined effort.
Patrick Phillips (Cougar) was the Coyotes’ anti-aircraft specialist, covering the Panther receivers like a stealth fighter. Patrick and company held the vaunted Dakota Woods to an anemic 7 of 17 passing and 1 interception. Patrick had 6 bone jarring solo tackles that had the Panthers thinking twice about even catching the football. Patrick also caught 2 passes for 56 yards, one a 45 yard catch to set up one Coyote touchdown, and another for 11 yards and 6 points.
Gunner Mann (call sign Hollywood) and “Wolfman” Chris Munoz were integral pieces to the Coyotes offensive and defensive attacks. Gunner had a solo tackle and 3 assists and helped cleared the path to the end zone for the Coyote runners. Chris added two catches on offense and a blocked PAT kick, a fumble recovery, and a tackle and an assist on defense.
“Top Gun” kicker Trevor Tinney had a radar lock on the goalposts firing stinger missiles through the uprights for 12 big points. Jonathan Patino expertly handles the PAT snapping duties and Thomas Fowler is the sure-handed holder.
On the sidelines, but not forgotten, are the Coyote reserves. The reserve players’ #1 responsibility is to prepare the starters for the upcoming opponent. As the Scout team, they run the oppositions’ offense and defense during the weekly practices. They earn their State Championship rings by going hard against the very best Six-Man players in the state on a weekly basis…..their own teammates. They are Stanley Buttler, Storm Teel, Jacob Cohn, Mario Valdez, and Corey Turner. Congratulation Coyotes ….you are… the best of the best for three years running!!!
So, as these players and coaches savor their historic victory, the rest of us are left to wonder, “What about next year”? Can they do it again? Oh sure, they are gonna lose at some point, all teams do. But with All-State starters Ty Mann and Brian Salinas returning and Stanley Buttler, Storm Teel, and Jacob Cohn ready to accept the challenge, and some talented 8th graders waiting in the wings. I wouldn’t bet against them !!! Go Coyotes Go !!!