The perfect semi-final match-up. The #1 ranked Richland Springs Coyotes versus the #2 ranked Milford Bulldogs. It doesn’t get any better than this….right? A rematch, of the first game of the year, a white-hot barnburner, in which the Coyotes overcame a 14 pt deficit with less than 6 minutes remaining, to eke out a 2 point victory, 58-56. The Rematch… 13-0 Coyotes Vs the 12-1 Bulldogs, the perfect storm…except for one thing, the Coyotes are not the same team, now as then. After 13 weeks of honing their razor sharp offense, and countless hours working on the fundamentals a truly great defense demands, the Coyotes posted a near perfect performance.
Head Coach Jerry Burkhart’s defense, held the lightning quick Bulldog runners, to a minus 38 yds rushing, and only 63 yards passing for an amazing offensive total of 25 yds and only one first down! The Bulldogs had averaged 48 points per game on the season.
Offensive Coordinator Coach Shawn Rogers’ offensive machine, performed like Transformer Autobots, amassing 336 yards in total offense, and 7 touchdowns in only 33 plays, in just over one half of play! The Pack’s offensive barrage, is once again led by the outstanding Junior spreadback, Denim Reeves, with 5 rushing touchdowns, tallying 192 rushing yards on 18 attempts. Reeves scored on a brilliant 53 yard run, on the second play from scrimmage, to cast a dark cloud of doubt on the Bulldog fans hopes, very early in the first quarter. After the Pack defense forced a Bulldog punt, Reeves scampered for 40 yds to the Milford 5 yard line, and then scored on a 2 yard run… the dark cloud burst! Milford turns the ball over on downs, and then Denim finds Tommy Hollon, deep for six pts…which began a torrential downpour of touchdowns!! Chance Bush and Brian Torres kept the Bulldogs guessing, with 2 carries each, for nice yardage and critical first downs. John Greenwood gets on the scoreboard with a one yard TD run. Denim Reeves went 6 of 7 passing for 111 yards with 1 TD and Chance Bush completed his only attempt for 4 yards. All-purpose Quarterback Stephen Fowler caught two passes for 34 yards. Chance Bush caught a pair for 22 yards and Stephen Thornhill snagged two for 20 yds, one of which, a critical first down catch. Tommy Hollon, ran down the bomb, for 39 yards and a touchdown. Senior Quarterback Stephen Fowler, as usual, was flawless in his ball handling, but also made his presence felt with crushing lead blocks, at times erasing, two would be tacklers. Franky Soto added 8, all important points, on 4 of 5 PATS to round out the offensive scoring. Elbert Thomas, Ben Vancleave, Brian Torres, John Greenwood, and Tommy Hollon, all made the Bulldogs backfield, their home away from home. Disciplined speed rushes from the end by Thomas and Vancleave, not only bullied the Bulldog backs, but also kept the speedy runners contained. Stephen Fowler had 4 solo tackles, two for losses, and one pass knocked away, to lead the Coyotes’ defensive stone wall. Ben Vancleave had, 3 solo tackles and 2 assists, which included 2.5 tackles for loss. Chance Bush had 3 solo tackles and 1 assist, with an assist behind the line, for a five yard loss. He also swatted away a would-be Bulldog completion. John Greenwood had 2 tackles and 2 assists and .5 sack for 4 yds and 2 tackles for losses totaling -18 yards. Brian Torres had 3 solo tackles, with two tackles for losses, and one pass defended. Denim Reeves was credited with one tackle and one assist and Tommy Hollon had two assists and .5 sack for -3 yds and a tackle for loss, of -10 yards. Elbert Thomas has two assists and a tackle for loss of -10 yards and was in the Bulldogs face all night long. Brian Torres’ defensive effort also included 7 kickoffs, not one returnable, a huge contribution, keeping the Bulldog track stars out of the equation.
A near perfectperformance, no fumbles, no interceptions, no return yardage allowed, only 2 penalties for 15 yds, only one first down allowed, 50-0... mercy rule, in a State Semi-final playoff game… a statement. Most notably evident, both offensively and defensively, were the execution of the fundamentals of football, solid blocks, perfect form tackling, crisp offensive execution, and of course, running, throwing, and catching. Individually, these Coyotes are BEASTS!!… as a PACK…. they are…. UNBEATABLE!!!
Coaches, Burkhart, Rogers and Brand, prepare their men to face the Sterling City Eagles, at historic Shotwell Stadium in Abilene at 2:00 PM on Saturday.
Sterling City opened the season 2-4, but finished the regular season with four straight victories to win District 7. In the playoffs, the Eagles have defeated, Novice 66-20, Balmorhea 60-14, district rival Loraine 56-44, and Motley County 68-22. The Eagles have never tasted the rarified air of a State Final.
This is Head Coach Jerry Burkhart’s fourth appearance in the Big Show in the last 7 years, winning in 2004, 2006, and 2007. This will be Offensive Coordinator Coach Shawn Rogers’ third State Final, since joining the team in 2005. Coach Michael Brand will experience his first State Final, coming to the Richland Springs staff this season from Cherokee. The Coyotes are 14-0 and have defeated Buckholts, Jonesboro, Calvert and Milford in the playoffs, but all the stats and records are no longer relevant, at this point in time. This is one game, winner take all, for all the marbles…The State Championship!!!