Six-Man Preview: State Semifinals!

By Russell Wilburn

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Sterling City vs. Borden County

Saturday at Mustang Stadium in Sweetwater

It’s the battle of the Treys for a trip to Jerry’s World when Trey Sisco’s Sterling City program faces off against Borden County, coached by Trey Richey.

Although neither coach would care to take the spotlight over their players, there is something to be said about the difficult non-district schedules these two put together. Between the two teams, only a single non-district opponent did not make the playoffs (Sterling City played Eden in Week 6). With that kind of preparation, both coaches achieved what they set out to.

Boden County had a young team that Richey wanted to get high-quality, live-action experience, while Sterling City had an experienced squad that knew they had an opportunity to go all the way.

Sterling City came away with a wild 62-58 win when these two met in Week 4, so these teams know what to expect from each other.

“I really think our offense has really played well the past two weeks and has given our team an opportunity to win games,” Sisco said.

The Eagles’ Cross Knittel rushed for four touchdowns and threw for two more in the big rematch with Westbrook last week. Borden County will have to try to keep Knittel in check, but it cannot forget his teammates like Kamden Pruitt.

Fun Fact: Before their Week 4 battle, the Eagles had not defeated the Coyotes since 1979. Of course, they had only played four times in those 41 years.


Blum vs. May

Saturday at Bob and Norma Cervetto Stadium in Dublin

Many may consider this to be the undercard of the Division 1 semifinals, but that would be a mistake.

Let’s not forget that the Bobcats are the defending state champions and have looked increasingly better each week, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

On the other side, the Tigers feel as though they have something to prove after a surprising loss in the second round to Nueces Canyon last year. Their only loss this season was a tight 44-40 defeat at the hands of Sterling City in Week 2.

May also defeated Blum 74-28 in Week 5, but the Bobcats were without several players.

However, will Blum be able to slow down May’s Kaden Halk, who rushed for 337 yards and seven touchdowns and caught a pass for another last week against Leakey? That will be the big question.

Fun fact: The only times these two have played in the playoffs was in 2013 and 2014 when May reached the championship game only to fall to Crowell both seasons.


Division 2

Groom v Balmorhea

Friday at Coyote Stadium in Borden County

This should be an extremely even matchup with two teams that look a lot alike. Both squads are loaded with upperclassmen and experience. Both are also deep on both sides of the ball and will rotate a bunch of players throughout the game. Both are also filled with lean, speedy athletes.

Groom may the Best Little Team You’ve Never Heard Of. Located just 45 miles due east of Amarillo, the Tigers have been making noise for a while, but are often overlooked. However, they are no stranger to big games, having reached the title game twice, in 1999 and 2014.

Last season Groom lost a tough one to state finalist Motley County, 62-56, in the regional final. This year the Tigers are looking for more and have been nothing short of perfection after a week one loss to Happy. Their most impressive win was a 90-40 thumping of Springlake Earth in Week 7.

After reaching two-straight Division 2 championship games, Balmorhea spent the last two seasons in Division 1 where they still flourished into the playoffs. This is the last hurrah for the 12 seniors who played on the last Balmorhea team to reach the Division 2 final in 2017.

Like Groom, the Bears dropped their first game of the season to a Division 1 team and have since rolled. Last weekend’s 36-30 come-from-behind win over Motley County

Fun Fact: These teams have never played each other.


Strawn v Richland Springs

Friday at Bob and Norma Cervetto Stadium in Dublin

If Richland Springs vs. Calvert is the best post season rivalry in the last 20 years, Strawn and Richland Springs is the post season rivalry that actually delivers, with a combined 13 state titles between them.

Currently they are 3-3 in the postseason, having met only six times. However, in five of the six years, the winner has won the state championship. In the lone year they didn’t, Strawn was runner-up.

It also pits two of the all-time six-man football greats as coaches, with Strawn’s Dewaine Lee and Richland Springs’ Jerry Burkhart.

This year things are a little different, as neither team has been their usual dominating self.

Of the four remaining teams in Division 2, Richland Springs has played the weakest schedule. Only one team they played in the preseason finished with a winning record, so the Coyotes are a bit of an unknown this time around.

Strawn on the other hand, lost early to Division 1 stalwarts White Deer and Westbrook.

If you are looking for comparisons, they do have one common opponent, Fort Worth Covenant Classical. Richland Springs won in week five, 61-16, while Strawn escaped in Week 6 with a 88-70 victory.

Fun Fact: Richland Springs’ Coach Burkhart once committed to become the head coach at Strawn’s rival, Gordon, but had second thoughts and returned to Richland Springs.

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