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Trinidad running back Stacey Womack slips through a tackle in last week’s 69-24 win over Abbott in the Region III title game. The Trojans (11-1) are scheduled to face No. 1 and unbeaten Richland Springs (12-0) in the state semifinals Friday in Hico. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Every six-man football team in the state would love to trade places with the Trinidad Trojans and be in the state semifinals.

Except maybe this week.

The Trojans have the unenviable task of trying to stop the unbeaten Richland Springs Coyotes and their all-everything quarterback Tyler Ethridge. Richland Springs has won 27 straight games and is the defending Division I state champion.

Trinidad (11-1) and Richland Springs (12-0) are scheduled to square off Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Hico.

The winner advances to the state championship game next week to face the Rankin-Rule winner.

“Our kids are ready,” Trinidad coach Kevin Ray said earlier this week. “We’re excited to be in the semis and play a team the caliber of Richland Springs.”

But Ray, who led Trinidad to a state title in 1998, knows the Trojans face their toughest test of the season.

“They’re good ... very good,” Ray said. “There’s really nobody close to the them. They appear to be a can’t-be-stopped team.”

Richland Springs has yet to be tested this season, having won its games by an average 62 points. The Coyotes have won all 12 games by the 45-point mercy rule.

All things with the Coyotes start with Ethridge. The 5-10, 180-pounder can simply do it all.

Through 12 games, he has rushed for 853 yards and 21 touchdowns and has completed 97-of-129 passes for 2,047 yards and 46 touchdowns.

In other words, as Ethridge goes, so go the Coyotes.

“He is one outstanding football player,” Ray said of Ethridge, who has lost just once in high school career. “Under his leadership, they have won two state titles (freshman and junior seasons) and made it to the semis the other year (sophomore).

“He’s a great decision-maker. If you pressure him, he’ll take off on you. If you give him time, he’ll pick you apart by throwing the ball. You kind of have to pick your poison.”

So how will the Trojans attempt to defense Ethridge?

“We will have to do some things to try and confuse him, like change our coverages from play to play and put enough heat on him, but just not too much,” Ray said.

Still, Ray knows even that may not be enough if the Trojans can’t control the clock and limit Richland Springs possessions.

“We’ve got to control the football and win the time of possession,” Ray said. “I’m not going to ever turn down points, but we don’t need to score too quickly.

“Our best chance is to limit the time they have the ball, execute well and win the turnover battle.”

Ethridge isn’t the lone concern for Ray and the Trojans.

Richland Springs has five starters back from last year’s state championship season, including Shelby Smith (5-6, 165), who was the six-man Defensive Player of the Year last season. Ethridge was the Offensive Player of the Year.

Wide receiver Mark Williams (6-1, 180) and defensive lineman Patrick Couch (6-1, 180) were first team all-state last year and are also back.

Calvert is the lone common opponent for Trinidad and Richland Springs this season. The Trojans lost 86-58 to Calvert before winning eight straight games to arrive in the state semis. Richland Springs took care of Calvert in 76-26 fashion last week.

Trinidad advanced to Friday game with a 48-36 bi-district win over Gordon and a 69-24 blowout of Abbott last week. Richland Springs defeated May 93-43 in bi-district before last week’s rout of Calvert.

Richland Springs’ last loss was to eventual state champion Throckmorton in the 2005 semfinals.



TRINIDAD TROJANS

W Throckmorton 66-40

W Greenville Christian 79-62

W Austin Christian 46-0

L Calvert 58-86

W Dallas Covenant 71-30

W Penelope 59-14

W Coolidge 52-6

W Dallas Gateway 77-12

W Avalon 72-0

W Blum 54-8

W Gordon 48-36

W Abbott 69-24

Season Record 11-1



RICHLAND SPRINGS COYOTES

W Happy 78-32

W Gustine 68-6

W Northside 62-16

W El Paso Faith 72-0

W Granbury Happy Hill 82-8

W Veribest 84-0

W Brookesmith 62-0

W Eden 56-0

W Rochelle 60-14

W Lometa 54-6

W May 93-43

W Calvert 76-26

Season Record 12-0

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