Record-setting six-man defense shuts out foes in semis, finals

At its most traditional, six-man football is almost a bit like a football and basketball hybrid. Teams score loads of points, players exhaust themselves to the point of utter collapse running up and down the field on both offense and defense, and scoreboards even register triple digits once in awhile.

With that in mind, it might be time for everyone to get a good long look at the newly crowned Texas six-man Division II champions, Richland Springs (Texas) High. We may never see another six-man team like it, with the Coyotes shutting out their semifinal and championship game opponents, ending both contests with mercy-rule victories.

That's right, across two games Richland Springs didn't surrender a single point in a division in which most good defenses allow 35 or 40. Springs, a town near Killeen, won its third title since 2000 with an astounding defensive effort throughout the playoffs, holding its opponents to a cumulative 64 points across five games. That's an average of just 13 points per game, an excellent mark for traditional 11-man football ... and a number unheard of in six-man, whether in the regular season or the playoffs.

The Dallas Morning News put that scoring defense in stark perspective with these amazing comparisons: In this year's six-man Division I title game, the final score was 82-68. Last year, a six-man finalist squad scored 88 points ... and still lost!

In fact, since Texas instituted a six-man division in the early 70s, no team had ever been shut out in a state final until Saturday. Now that's all changed, thanks to the Coyotes' epic defense.

"Wow. Their defense is just so tough," Sterling City head coach Clyde Parham, who coached the losing side in the Division II title game, told the San Angelo Standard-Times. "They have so much speed and we were not blocking the backside. They were catching us on the backside and when you got that much speed it is what they say - speed kills - and it did."

One could even say that the entire Richland Springs lineup killed, with the thanks of a slightly ironic sense of motivation: UCLA basketball's offensive genius John Wooden.

"We bought John Wooden's Pyramid of Success," Richland Springs coach Jerry Burkhart told the Standard-Times. "One of the things it talked about was patience. (On the first drive) we told our kids to be patient and it was all going to work out."

It did work out, in record fashion.

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