DOMINATING DISPLAY

in Football

Looking like a team on its way to another state title, Class 1A, DII’s third-ranked Richland Springs overwhelms 21st-ranked Oglesby in regional playoff matchup

COMANCHE – Getting one step closer to claiming their 10th state championship since 2004, the third-ranked Richland Springs Coyotes completely overwhelmed the youthful 21st-ranked Oglesby Tigers, 53-0, in a Class 1A, Division II Regional playoff matchup last Friday night at Comanche’s Indian Stadium.

Richland Springs senior Jadeyn Bryant accounted for four touchdowns and senior Zane Capps ran for two scores while the Coyote defense took control of the game to dominate Oglesby in all phases of the contest.

After the Coyote offensive attack put up 22 unanswered points in the first quarter, the Richland Springs defensive unit joined in the scoring. By swarming and punishing the Oglesby ball carriers, the Coyotes forced two fumbles and immediately converted them into scores to help put the game away at halftime by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule.

“I’m very proud of our kids,” Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart said. “They came out and played a hard game and stayed focused all week. We told our kids to stay focused and try to win every play. And that’s what we stressed all week long. We knew they would have a game plan for us. They beat Calvert, and I know they were feeling good. You have to be ready to play every week at this level. Next week will be ever harder.”

With the win, the Coyotes (9-1) advance to face the Oakwood Panthers (8-3) in the Region IV championship game at 6 p.m. Friday at Hico’s historic Tiger Stadium. As the District 13-1A, DII champions, Oakwood eased past the Cherokee Indians (7-4), 52-16, last Friday night. Cherokee finished the regular season as the District 16-1A, DII runner-up to Richland Springs after the Coyotes handed the Indians a 92-70 loss Oct. 15.

Posting their third shutout in the last four games, the Coyotes limited Oglesby (9-3) to only 52 yards of total offense on 26 plays from scrimmage, led by Blake Thompson rushing for 23 yards on six carries and completing six of eight passes for 20 yards, connecting with Matthew Castillo for two receptions for 25 yards.

“We are a very young team — 15 of our 21 players are freshman and sophomore,” Oglesby head coach Jeb Dixon said. “We played against a very good  team and got some valuable reps. We had a great season we can build on for the future.”

After winning the District 12-1A, DII title, Oglesby knocked off the District 13-1A, DII runner-up Calvert Trojans, 48-30, before running into Richland Springs.

“My hat’s off to Coach Dixon, he gets his kids ready to play,” Burkhart said. “Any time you play him, you have to be ready to play. He has a young group, and I guarantee you they will be coming up and they will be pretty good. They beat a good team last week.”

Scoring on every offensive possession of the game, the Coyotes went to work quickly as Bryant broke loose for a 49-yard touchdown run and Jayden Sutherland nailed the two-point conversion kick to put Richland Springs on the scoreboard just 37 seconds into the game.

On their next possession, Bryant hooked up with Lane Garcia for a 20-yard scoring strike before Capps closed out the first quarter with a 59-yard touchdown romp to give the Coyotes a commanding 22-0 lead.

Bryant opened the second quarter with his second touchdown run before picked up an Oglesby fumble and darting eight yards for another score less than a minute later.

With just over three minutes remaining in the half, Capps ran the ball in from 15 yards out, before Sutherland connected with Jeremiah Beam for the extra point to put Richland Springs ahead by the desired 45 points. But the Coyote defense added another score for insurance when Kenny Triplett scooped up a forced fumble and raced 15 yards into the end zone.

Needing only 18 plays from scrimmage to pile up 208 yards of total offense in just one half of play, Bryant rushed for 93 yards on nine carries for two touchdowns and tossed a 20-yard scoring strike to Lane Garcia. Capps added 85 yards rushing on three attempts and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Bryant and Kenny Triplett converted two Oglesby fumbles into touchdowns, while senior Keston Lusty led the Coyotes with four tackles and six assists, followed by senior Brandon Stewart with four takedowns and three assists.

“We wanted to dominate in all three phases of the game – offensively, defensively and special teams,” Burkhart said. “But we were really focused on being physical tonight. Coming in, we knew our tackling needed to get better, our pass coverage needed to get better, and tonight, we did a lot better job. We just know we have a lot of work ahead of us. We’re blessed with the opportunity to continue next week and get to play again.”

Last season, the Coyotes were not picked to advance to the state championship game, but did so by upsetting the Strawn Greyhounds in the state semifinals before losing to the favored Balmorhea Bears, 74-38, in the Covid protocol delayed state title game.

“That always leaves a sour taste in your mouth and leaves you playing the what if game,” Burkhart said. “But you know, Balmorhea was a great team, and they beat us. Grandpa always taught me to stay humble when you win and make no excuses when you lose.

“So after we got beat in the state game, we came back and we knew we had to do a lot of things better if we want to get back there. So that’s what we’ve been focusing on since the summer, and these kids believe in the program. I love these kids so much.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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