Gotta love playoff football, especially the six-man variety. The census of tiny Richland Springs swelled on Friday night to at least three times the population number posted on the highway sign as Six-Man fans from all over the state made the trek to watch the vaunted matchup between the Eagles of Jonesboro and the top-ranked Coyotes of Richland Springs. The grandstands and endzone were full and the "rail" was stacked four-deep on both sides of the field....standing room only with no elbow room. The true six-man fans weren’t disappointed, treated with four full quarters of spectacular offense, bone-jarring defense, and amazing execution on both sides of the field.
The Richland Springs Coyotes entered the game as the #1 ranked Six-Man team in the state, Division I or Division II. Undefeated at 11-0 and winners of back-to-back State Championships, the Coyotes advanced to the Regionals with a half-time slaughter rule victory over Oglesby last week in Evant.
The Jonesboro Eagles had only two early season losses.... both to Division 1 powerhouses. With a rare combination of size and speed the Eagles were considered by many to be the most talented and athletic team in Divison II. Jonesboro blasted a good Trinidad team last week 116-80 to earn their third trip to the Regionals in as many years.
The previously unbeaten 2010 and 2011 Eagles had their seasons ended the previous two years by the Coyotes in this very same Regional round of the playoffs. Jonesboro has not had a team in the Quarterfinals since 1974 and was hungry for vengeance.
The Coyotes were 11-0 on the season and winners of their last 41 games in a row, including two State Championships. Richland Springs has made Regional and Quarterfinal appearances in 11 of the last 12 years. With State Titles in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011, the Coyotes had not lost at home in over 10 years and 63 straight games.
The Coyotes won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. Three unsuccessful plays later, the Coyote fans were awestruck as they witnessed a play they had not seen in years..... a Coyote punt !!
The Eagles take over on their own 33 yard line....pitch left to Gerrit Buster...Touchdown !! PAT missed. Eagles 6-0 ....8:54 left in the first quarter.
Chance Bush returns the kickoff to his own 16 yard line before sweeping the right side for a 34 yard gain followed by an 18 yard run to the Eagles’ 12 yard line. Bush starts right and then pulls up and passes to Patrick Phillips who bulls his way into the endzone. Touchdown !!! Trevor Tinneys’ PAT is good........Coyotes 8 Eagles 6 .....7:58 remaining in the first quarter
Those first two minutes were almost an exact microcosm of the whole game. The first half saw both teams scoring and turning the ball over on downs; a see-saw battle in the truest sense with 10 lead changes !!! The teams traded touchdowns until midway thru the third period when the Coyotes scored to take the lead at 40-34. The Coyotes score again to widen the lead to 48-34 and never relinquish the lead again. The Coyotes fumble in the waning seconds of the game, but put on a goal-line stand, to hold the Eagles and the score at 64-48. The Coyotes scored eight times and Trevor Tinney was a perfect 8 of 8 in PAT attempts for 16 most valuable points. The Eagles scored 7 times but made only 3 of 7 PATs for 6 points. Gunner Mann and Jacob Cohn each had PAT blocks for the Coyotes.
The overall game stats were relatively as even as the game itself. The Eagles ran 80 plays and the Coyotes ran 79 amassing 560 yards of total offense to the Eagles’ 435. Both teams had two punts and both teams turned the ball over on downs several times. The Coyotes were penalized 3 times for 20 yards and the Eagles suffered 6 penalties for 65 yards (one of which cost them a touchdown).
Chance Bush, the Coyotes’ Senior Spreadback, has two All-State patches on his letterman sleeves, and is a good bet to earn another, had touchdown runs of 7, 9, 60, and 72 yards and completed 10 of 16 passes for 4 more scores. Bush also led the team in tackles with 14 solo tackles and 3 assists including 2 for losses.
Gunner Mann, another All-Stater, had 7 solo tackles and assisted on 5 others including 2.5 for losses. Gunner also had a nice catch and run for 24 yards and blocked a PAT attempt.
Thomas Fowler had three catches including one for 60 yards and a touchdown. Thomas contributed 3 solo tackles and 5 assists and was credited with a half-sack.
Patrick Phillips caught 3 of Bushs’ tosses and converted 2 into touchdowns. Patrick had 2 solo tackles and 5 assists on defense.
Chris Munoz caught a touchdown pass and had 2 solo tackles and 2 assists on defense including .5 tackle for a loss.
Ty Mann had a beautiful run on a reverse for a nice 24 yard gain, and caught a pass and turned it into a crucial 40 yard gain. Ty had 2 tackles, one a touchdown saving rundown from behind.
Brian Salinas had 6 carries for 21 yards. Brian made his presence known and felt with his devastating blocks on the much bigger Eagles. Brian had a nice run after a catch on a beautiful play where he cracked back on an Eagle defender and then caught a pass for a long gain.
Stanley Buttler, kickoff kamikaze, added a half tackle on defense and some big blocks in the kicking game.
The special teams trio of Jonathan Patino (center), Thomas Fowler (holder), and kicker Trevor Tinney was perfect and contributed 16 points which, was the difference in the game.
Head Coach Jerry Burkhart said the Eagles brought their "A" game, and were physical and fast, exposing some weaknesses that would be the focus of practice this week.
Fix on Six
Coaches Burkhart, Shawn Rogers, and Thomas Tipton will now turn their attention to the Milford Bulldogs. Coach Burkhart said they are quick and fast and like to run the wide open "spread offense". The Bulldogs, like the Coyotes, are undefeated on the season and ranked #2 in Division II. Milford mercy ruled Cranfils Gap 54-6, and defeated Cherokee 56-24 in a four quarter game to advance to the Quarterfinals. The matchup will be in Hico this Friday night at 7:30 pm. The Coyotes are 3 games away from their all-time record setting 6th State Championship.
Don’t miss this barn-burner !!!! Go Coyotes Go !!! Go !! Win !! State !! Fix on Six !!!!