Sixman Magazine

Can Crowell Up-Set the Mighty Richland Springs?

Can Crowell Up-Set the Mighty Richland Springs?

By:  Leman Saunders

#3 Crowell (11-1) v #1 Richland Springs (12-0) – Friday 7:30pm @ Tuscola-Jim Ned

Richland Springs faced their biggest test last week and passed as they defeated #2 Calvert 86-36.  The Coyotes have been dead set on winning their 8th State title all season and the likely Quarter-Final matchup with Calvert was THE game everyone was looking forward to since 2-a-days (heck last year even), the Coyotes came out and dominated them.  However, with all the hype about RS this year, this game against Crowell is a huge trap game for them.

So… don’t be shocked if Crowell beats Richland Springs tonight…

This game reminds me of the 1999 Quarter-Final game of Panther Creek, who had steamrolled everyone and had a documentary crew following them, the heavy favorite against a Gordon team no one gave a chance to.  Gordon shocked them, won the game 61-52, and went on to win state that year.

Unlike Richland Springs, who has had ESPN and another documentary crew following them this season, there has been no camera crew following Crowell as they seek to make it back to their 4th straight title game having been in 3 straight D1 title games.

The past is one of Richland Springs greatest assets.  In almost all their matchups their opponents have to deal with a matchup history that the Coyotes seem to always own, giving them a huge psychological edge way before their games even kick off.  Unlike many of Richland Springs opponents there is no history between these two schools.  In fact, it can be said that Crowell is one the few teams that doesn’t care who their opponent is.  The Wildcats are a throwback football team that plays hard and hits hard every play and aren’t prone to any type of intimidation.  A prime example of this was last year Crowell went into their Division 1 West Semi-Final against Borden County as the underdog.  The Wildcats had lost 3 games in the season already including a week 1 loss to Borden County.  Borden County had just come off a Quarter-Final win in a much hyped game against Happy and were all but locked to make it to state where they would be the favorite to win the title.  So what happened… Crowell came out fired up and beat Borden County by 28 points.  So here we are a year later and Crowell finds themselves in almost the exact same situation as they get ready to face off with Richland Springs.

Richland Springs has shown at times to suffer from two weaknesses this season; their kicking game and pass defense.  The Coyotes struggled with their PATs early on in the season, but have seemed to have a better handle on it now as they were a perfect 10/10 last week against Calvert.  However, in the last 2 games the Coyotes have given up over 300 yards in each to spread backs that were better runners than passers in Taron Smith (a sophomore) of Milford, and Jaquan Thompson (with an injured knee limiting his mobility most of the game) of Calvert.  Crowell might be the best passing team in the state with senior QB Tristen Hayes, a stat line of 184-304-4 for 3471 yards 65 TDs this season including throwing for over 472 yards and 8 TDs in their only loss to Happy back in week 5 via the 45 point mercy rule, a more superior pass than either Thompson or Smith.

Richland Springs rushing attack is amazing, having rushed for 423 yards against Milford and 450 against Calvert, which is due to the fact that their offensive blocking is 2nd to none.  In those two wins RB Walker Tippie has a combined rushing stat line of 51 carries 609 yards and 11 TDs rushing only.  So the question is can Crowell disrupt their run game at the line or in the backfield stopping that high powered rush attack and maybe force RS to turn the ball over (which they haven’t done at all season)?  This is a hard question to answer as Crowell has had a weak playoff schedule.  They have managed to hold a solid Strawn team to 109 yards rushing on 25 attempts in the Area playoff game and earlier in the season against an excellent running team Valley, Crowell held them to 134 yards on 26 carries.  However, those two foes aren’t in the same class as Richland Springs when it come to the running game.

So this game comes down to Crowell’s run defense vs Richland’s pass defense.  I think this game will go a full 4 quarters and Crowell is going to have over 500 yards passing and score over 60 points.  I still think Crowell needs the perfect game to win.  As I said Crowell has zero fear of them, but Richland Springs has no fear of Crowell either and this will be the most physical game either team has played this season…This is going to be two heavy weights battling it out!

I can easily see a repeat of what happened to Borden County last season, with RS looking past a Crowell team that is more dangerous than many people think.  Again, these 2 schools have NEVER played each other which is kind of cool!  It will either end up something like 84-80 a Richland Springs win or 86-84 with a huge Crowell drive to end it and win it.  This is the game that makes me nervous having picked RS to win it all and I almost want to pick Crowell to win this one…but I’m sticking with the Coyotes surviving a scare tonight as they make more extra points, win the turnover battle, and book travel plans to AT&T Stadium for the State game.

Players to Watch:             Crowell – Tristen Hayes, Tyler Durham, Danny de la Pena

Richland Springs – Walker Tippie, Hutton Lusty, Jordan Burkhart

 

Other Semi-Final Match-Ups:

Division 2:

Balmorhea (13-0) v Valley (11-2) – Friday 6:30pm @ Borden County

This is the Western match-up many believed would happen since the preseason.  All the playmakers in this game for both teams can find ways to score no doubt.  Valley’s offense averages a whopping 65 points a game to Balmorhea’s 54, but Balmorhea has pitched 4 shut-outs, 10 mercy rule wins, 1 win by forfeit and has only had 2 full games played and only allows 11 points a game, and that is after giving up a season high of 42 last week to Grandfalls-Royalty (who they still 45ed).  Valley has allowed an average of 30 points a game including 80+ points in their 2 losses this season (Happy & Crowell) and 62 last week against Follett.  No question the better team defensively is Balmorhea and that is who I’m going with in this game.

Players to watch:             Balmorhea –  Kyle Garcia, Marco Martinez, Marcos Mendoza

Valley – Adrian Espinoza, Zack Stumbo, Jayton Smith

Division 1:

Borden County (12-1) v Happy (13-0) – Saturday 3:00pm @ Levelland

This is another matchup many have been anticipating all year.  Happy seems to have been firing on all cylinders all season while Borden County has had to battle through injuries along the way.  Borden County has always been known for their defense and have given up just 12 points a game, but Happy has played some high octane teams this year and still has only given up 14 points a game on average.  Both have a pretty solid kicking game, but BC has probably the best in the state (and aren’t afraid to kick the rare 4-point Field Goal either).  Weather might be a big factor in this game as well as it will be rainy, cold and windy.  Borden Co seems to be apt to the grind it out type game the weather might turn this into.  Many have Happy as the favorite in this one, but I think Borden Co has the better defense and the edge on PAT execution, so I’m taking BC in a tight game.

Players to Watch:             Border County – Hunter Jones, Corbin Sumners, Braxton Coors

Happy – Karson Bryan, Colton McCarley, Jayton Walden

 

Jonesboro (13-0) v Union Hill (12-1) – Friday 7:00pm @ Springtown

Jonesboro has been battling the injury bug all post-season and have only gotten better each week as key players recover and back-ups gain some big game experience.  Union Hill is having their best season in 6-man since the 1940s and looking for the schools 3rd state title in it’s 3rd different classification (having won Class B in 1978 and 1A in 1982).  Jonesboro is battle tested and Union Hill has had one of the easiest playoff paths to this point.  Union Hill probably has the best athlete in this contest and while their defense has only allowed about 13 points a game this season that is against a schedule full of private schools.  Jonesboro has given up almost 23 points a game against some solid teams.  Union Hill’s only loss was to Strawn who forced and capitalized on several key turnovers to win that game.  This will be a hard fought game in the trenches, in the end I think Jonesboro’s defense holds up better and they make more extra points and win a very physical game lower scoring game.

Players to Watch:             Jonesboro – Robert Robuck, Ethan Lilljedahl, Wyatt Young

Union Hill – Gabe Nelson, Colton Wade, Colt Mallory

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