The Big Game: DI Happy v DII Richland Springs


The Big Game:
DI Happy v DII Richland Springs – Saturday Sept 2nd 8:00pm @Jayton

While the Hico Six-Man Super Saturday may be the primary kickoff classic for six-man football, Jayton is doing its best to unseat it this season, thanks in part to scoring the biggest game of week one, with Happy and Richland Springs facing off Saturday night.

It’s kind of a fluke this game even happened. If you remember, Richland Springs had planned to travel to Dubois, Wyoming to play the Dubois Rams six-man football team for their first game of the season. However, the schedule shift by the UIL pushed the season kickoff week back a week, making this game virtually impossible.

Jerry Burkhart and Tye Keith had talked about a possible match up over the summer and once the Wyoming game fell through, coach Burkhart called Josh Stanaland at Jayton to see if they had an opening in their kickoff classic. At the time they did not, but another stroke of luck occurred when Cotton Center contacted coach Stanaland as well, looking for a game and a spot in their classic. So, channeling his inner PT Barnum, coach Stanaland told both Cotton Center and Richland Springs he would bring them into the Jayton classic. He added a ninth game to the lineup and reshuffled some of the matchups. Happy was originally slated to play Sterling City. Thus, the DI Happy v DII Richland Springs epic showdown was created, for the last game of the classic, as well as an equally great undercard game before it in DI Sterling City v DII Valley.

The game will be an excellent test for both highly-ranked teams to see just where they are as the season starts as both squads face questions about 2017 squads.

Happy, with five starters on each side of the ball back, has more pieces returning from their state semi-final team. However, the one player not returning is All-State Offensive MVP Karson Bryant, and those are big shoes to fill. Many expect returning 1st team All-State utility player Colton McCarley to step up into that role. McCarley is no doubt an exciting player to watch, but the question remains can he (or anyone) replace Karson Bryant?

Richland Springs lost two lettermen off last year’s State Championship team, Traven Day and Colt Carlisle, both of whom were 1st team All-State offensive linemen. In addition to that, the coaching staff will look a little different, as long-time offensive coordinator Shawn Rogers left after last season and his position filled by former Calvert HC John Cherry.. That may seem like a lot of changes to go through for any team, but the returning backfield trio of Walker Tippie, Hutton Lusty and Jordon Burkhart is the main reason most people feel the Coyotes have the best chance at repeating as state champion out of all defending champs, across all classifications.

This will only be the second time these two schools have faced off on the gridiron, as ten years ago to the week, Richland Springs opened up their 2007 state championship season with a 78-32 mercy rule win over Happy. Happy hasn’t lost a season opener since 2011 (Petersburg 49-0) and Richland Springs’ last loss in an opener was in 2013, when May ended their 45-game win streak with a 76-52 victory. This, by the way is Coach Burkhart’s only loss in a season opener in 14 years at Richland Springs.

The Key to Victory: The team that can control the line of scrimmage will win this game. Happy is going to have to disrupted Richland Springs All-State backfield BEFORE they get to the line of scrimmage, if they want to upset the reigning Division II state champs. If Richland Springs can’t replace Day and Carlisle on the offensive line, then Happy might be able to stop the Coyotes rushing attack.

Equally important will be how well Richland Springs’ defensive line plays, as the most experienced players returning for the Cowboys are on their O-Line. In the end, I think the well-oiled machine that is Richland Springs is too much for Happy and the Coyotes extend their current win streak to 30.

Leman Saunders

Well-known member
If you plan on going to Jayton or Hico...THERE WILL BE FOLKS THERE TO ACCEPT DONATIONS FOR HURRICANE RELIEF! High Island is a six-man town that has been affected by the hurricane and is in need of drinkable bottle water as well as usable eating utensils and disinfectants wipes. Please bring something with you to donate to the relief effort for High Island! Check at the gate or press box about pick up and distribution!