Super Six: Six storylines coming out of Week 7 in Six-man football

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Groom8217s Blayne Shuck makes a tremendous snag for an interception against Darrouzett during a District 1 1A Division II opener on Thursday night in Groom Seth Ritter Press Pass Sports

Happy hands McLean first loss

With a big game pending how do you fire up the troops? Let a legend from your hometown give the pre-game speech. McLean received motivation from former state champion running back Crockett Friday night, and it appeared to work very early in the contest. The Tigers forced Happy into a 4th and short situation on their first possession, but Joey Blackmon broke the initial line of scrimmage and jetted 52 yards for a score. That was the first of 58 straight points as the No. 7-ranked  Cowboys (5-1) downed McLean 58-6.  After that initial score from Happy the Tigers (6-1) had a 4th and nine from the Cowboys 13-yard line. On that play, Alex Retana danced in the pocket before trying to thread the needle at the goal line to Sheppard Reichman but was knocked away by Tryce Johnson.  The very next play Johnson made them pay rumbling 67 yards for the score and Happy never looked back after that. Johnson finished the game with 171 yards rushing and three scores on only eight carries. Kyton Johnson had his second straight game with two touchdown receptions and a pick-six while the Happy defense limited McLean to 83 total yards.

Tough night for District 1-1A Division I

Coming into the night, the three teams in District 1-1A Division I not named Follett had started the season off strong combining for a 16-2 record, but all three teams ran into buzz saws Friday night. In addition to undefeated McLean falling to Happy, Valley (4-3) is getting healthy, as they traveled to White Deer (5-2) and flexed their muscle. The Patriots led 38-7 at half then finished this one off in the final quarter gaining a 58-13 victory. Miami (5-2) also found the visitors from Nazareth (6-1) not very accommodating as the Swifts posted a 53-8 win. The Swift defense put the clamps on Haiden Thompson, who had been averaging almost 300 yards in total offense on the season, to 83 total yards before Thompson left the game in the second quarter with an injury. With all three teams falling on the night the race for the second spot in the district is wide open with no clear-cut favorite.

Tigers and Owls flex their muscle

District 1-1A Division II action kicked off Thursday night in Silverton as the Owls made quick work of Lefors 63-13. The No. 7 Owls (5-2, 1-0) raced out to a 57-13 lead at half over the Pirates (0-6, 0-1) and finished this one off early in the third.  For Groom it’s been a tough season and they took that frustration out on Darrouzett (1-5, 0-1) notching a 68-7 win. The Tigers (2-5, 1-0) already had the mercy-rule in tack at the end of the first quarter, leading the Longhorns 46-0.  The other team in this district, Hedley, kicks off their district campaign next week as they were on bye.

Richland Springs suffers rare defeat

Since 2001, Richland Springs has not lost a district game, and only had one home loss while capturing an eye-popping nine state titles in the process. All of that came to a screeching halt Friday night as Cherokee (6-0), ranked No. 5 in the state, handed the No. 4 ranked Coyotes a stunning loss, 78-47. The game started out looking like another good night for Richland Springs (4-1) as former Springlake-Earth spread back Braxton Ethridge, who’s dad is now an assistant coach for the Coyotes, showed off his track speed by returning the opening kickoff 70-yards for a score. On the ensuing possession, the Indians struck from 31-yards out on a nice run from Gunner Baugh to tie the game. Cherokee then picked off Ethridge on the Coyotes next possession and Baugh scored again from 63-yards out as Cherokee held a 16-8 advantage. The Indians then held the momentum and lead for most of the first half before Ethridge scored his second of five touchdowns on the ground from a yard out to tie the game with 36 seconds left. Cherokee, answered quickly on a 49-yard pass down to the Coyote one and Valdez went in from there to give the Indians a 30-24 lead at half.  The Indians used that momentum to pull away. Valdez finished the game 8-of-9 for 177 yards through the air and five scores and gained another 79 yards with two scores on the ground while leading the Indians on defense with 10 tackles. Ethridge had a strong game gaining 178 yards on 21 carries while passing for 152 more on a 14-of-24 night.

Changes in the area landscape

With Richland Springs falling in district for the first time since 2001, let’s look back to that year and see how much has changed in the Texas Panhandle. Currently, teams are divided into two divisions based on enrollment. Divison I requires an enrollment above 59.5 students but no more than 104.9. In 2001, all teams playing at the Six-Man level were in the same division with 16 districts. That has now grown to 64 total districts between the two levels. At that time teams playing Six-man were labeled as such versus Class 1A today. Only two districts contained area teams. District 1-1A was comprised of Fort Elliott, Follett, Higgins, Lefors, McLean and Miami. District 2-1A was Groom, Happy, Hedley, Samnorwood, Silverton and Valley. Two schools, Higgins and Samnorwood, no longer exist and Fort Elliott no longer plays football. None of those schools have moved up to 11-man and White Deer, Nazareth, Claude, and Wildorado have joined Six-Man and Darrouzett has resumed play. Follett and Groom won district titles that year with Miami and Valley making the playoffs as the number No 2-seed. Groom made the state quarterfinals before falling to Sanderson 49-35. The eventual champion was Whitharral, who won the title 27-20 over, that’s right, Richland Springs.

Week 8 preview

Open is the most common opponent this week as Nazareth, McLean, Miami, White Deer, Claude, Valley and Darrouzett are all on bye in Week 8. However, the few games going on could be doozies. In District 1-1A Division II, the district title will likely be decided Thursday night on the edge of the Caprock. Silverton, behind the legs of Sawyer Francis and arm of Kooper Cox host a Groom team that will rely on Stephen Koehler’s arms and legs to try and upset the Owls. Winning the district title is one thing but it also allows the winner to avoid the likely District 2-1A top team in Whitharral. At the Cowboy Corral, No.7 Happy Cowboys welcomes in one of the top team in TAPPS Division III from Lubbock. Kingdom Prep will be looking to make a statement at Happy while the Cowboys can’t overlook the Warriors as they face district rival Nazareth the following week. Other games scheduled include Follett at Wildorado and Lefors at Hedley.

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