Class 6A Title Game Notes

Thursday night will be the 22nd and final 6A state championship game in football, as we know it.  It’s been beaten to death, we know the story by now.  Next year 6A will split into two divisions with the 16 largest schools being in 6A division 1 and the 16 smaller schools being in 6A division 2.  It’s only fitting that in the last year of a 32 team 6A, that Jenks and Union do battle for the gold ball.  When we look back at the history a 32 team 6A, Jenks and Union have combined for 19 of the 22 state championships.  Then we have the streak.  For the last 18 years, it’s only been Jenks and Union raising the gold ball.  Since 1992, the first year that we had 6A as the largest classification, Jenks has 11 state championships, Union has 7 rings during that span as well.  These two programs won’t stop anytime soon, next year they’ll be competing in division 1 and automatically are favorites to win that inaugural state championship.  In my opinion, I believe that if Jenks and Union hadn’t dominated 6A over the last two decades, we wouldn’t have the split in 6A.  Now’s not the time for that debate, now’s the time to sit back, and as Terrell Owens put it, get ya popcorn ready.  One thing is certain, Jenks-Union for the 6A title, here we go again.

Jenks-Union Game Notes:

50th All Time Meeting (Both Regular Season and Playoffs)

Jenks leads the all time series with a record of 30-19 against rival Union.  Before Bill Blankenship was at Union, the Redskin football program was dominated by the Trojans but things turned around in 1996.  Since 1996, when the consecutive titles streak started, Jenks and Union have met 28 times and Jenks is 15-13 over Union during that time. 

Get Ready For An Instant Classic

Jenks and Union have battled 49 different times and 24 of those occasions, the game has been decided by 7 points or less.  I’m well aware that people in Oklahoma, excluding the Jenks and Union fan bases, are growing tired of the Jenks-Union dominance.  You cannot debate this fact though, you’re entertained if you watch.  It’s become the usual to take in a Jenks-Union game and see another classic.  It’s almost become a watered down deal because it happens so often.  Make no mistake about it, this is a special rivalry.

The Bigger The Stakes, The Bigger The Game

This will be the 50th all time meeting between the two rivals, it will also be the 12th time these two teams have met in the playoffs.  Last year’s 41-10 Jenks victory in the semifinals over Union was the 3rd time they have met in that round.  The other 8 times have been in the championship game.  Overall in the playoffs, Jenks holds a 6-5 advantage after last year’s blowout win.  This will be the 9th time these two teams clash for the 6A title, all of these 9 meetings have come in the last 16 years.  It can’t get any closer then this.  In the 8 meetings before Thursday’s clash, both teams are sporting 4-4 records.  Jenks won the first 3 championship games, while Union won the last 3 title games. 

Jenks Looking For Perfection

Jenks and Union have beaten each other up over the last two decades, so this may not be a surprise, or it might be.  No team in 6A has gone unbeaten since 2002 when the Redskins went unbeaten and beat Broken Arrow to win their 1st state title under Bill Blankenship.  We’ve had a lot of great Jenks and Union teams since that 2002 season, yet all of them lost at least 1 game.  The Trojans have played tough competition this year, two nationally ranked opponents in Euless Trinity and Union, a borderline nationally ranked team in Broken Arrow, a top 5 team Westmoore (twice) and won them all. 

Union’s Offensive Juggernaut

Union has been a force on offense ever since they’ve gotten back to full strength.  They’ve scored more points then anyone in 6A football and have averaged 45 points per game on the season.  I talk about how they’ve gotten back to full strength.  After they got beat up in Texas against DeSoto and losing a heartbreaker to Jenks the next week, Union has rolled opponents.  The next 11 games this offense has averaged 50 points per game and beaten those opponents by an average differential of 38 points.  After scoring 20 points against DeSoto and 16 points against Jenks, Union’s lowest scoring output was 30 points 2 weeks ago against Broken Arrow in the semifinals.  It’s going to be hard to score on this Jenks defense but Union is firing on all cylinders.

Does Defense Really Win Championships?

If that motto rings true, the Trojans will complete a perfect season and raise the gold ball for a second consecutive year.  Jenks has the best defense in 6A and probably the state of Oklahoma this year.  Before the season I had gone on record of saying this defense would be better then the ’97 Legion of Doom.  It hasn’t lived up to that, but it’s a close second.  The Trojans have only given up an average of 12 points per game.  Jenks’ defensive unit started a little slow, giving up 20+ in 2 of their first 3 games.  Since then, Jenks hasn’t given up 20 points at all.  In fact, in the 10 games since week 3, Jenks is only giving up 9.4 points per game.  Like I mentioned in the last note, Jenks will face a Union offense that is firing on all cylinders.  Jenks will face it’s toughest test as a defense in the title game.

Here are the Roundup picks, for what it’s worth…

Michael: Jenks 31-Union 30
Matt: Jenks 28-Union 17

Millwood’s Cameron Batson Named Gatorade Player of the Year

Football season is nearing it’s end and that means only one thing.  Awards season!  On Thursday, Gatorade announced the winners their player of the year award for each state.  Oklahoma’s award goes to Millwood ATH Cameron Batson.  Batson joins the likes of Wes Welker, Matt Holliday, Robert Meacham and Gerald McCoy as previous Oklahoma recipients.  Last year’s winner was Stanvon Taylor from East Central who is now playing at the University of Oklahoma.  Batson is already committed to play division 1 football as well.  He’ll be headed south of the Red River to Texas Tech.  He’s the second Millwood player to win this award, Gerald Jones won it in 2007.  “This is such an honor and I immediately thanked God, my family and my teammates for pushing me everyday and helping me accomplish this award.”  Batson said on winning the award.
“This is a huge award for Cameron.  He and the team are well deserved of this honor and it couldn’t have gone to a better represenative of the school, community and program.  He exemplifies Falcon Pride.”  Millwood head coach Darwin Franklin said on his star athlete.  Batson moved to quarterback for his senior year and has done nothing but impress.  The future Red Raider has thrown for almost 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns.  A true dual threat at QB, Batson has also torched opponents on the ground.  In 13 games, Batson has 1,039 yards and 16 touchdowns on just 108 carries.
Batson is now eligible to win the national player of the year award that will be announced later on this month.  Batson never thought he’d be able to win this award and represent Oklahoma.  “I honestly did not think I could win such a prestigious award but that’s just God rewarding me for all the hardwork and sacrifices I have made.  I’m not satisfied yet, I want that gold ball,” Batson said.  The Texas Tech commit has helped lead his team to a 13-0 mark and a shot to play for that gold ball in a semifinal appearance next week against Hartshorne.  Millwood has had plenty of success over the last several years but have not won a state title since 2006.  Batson is working to change that.  “It drives me a lot because I feel like I have accomplished so much, but in order for my team to be satisfied, we must obtain the state championship.  This makes me work harder and stay humble.”
Batson will get his opportunity to play for the state title next Friday when Millwood plays Hartshorne next Friday in Ada.  There’s no doubt that Batson can lead them to Stillwater to have a shot at winning the gold ball.  Coach Franklin has complete confidence in his player of the year.  “Cameron has an uncanny ability to work hard in practice and make plays during games, while putting the team’s success before his own.  He is a player who is unselfish and leads by example.  One characteristic that stands out about Cameron is his relentless desire for success.  Not just athletically but also academically.  When a young man uses his God given talents and abilities for good.  Good things will happen.”  Batson has a 4.0 GPA and ranks 1st in his graduating class.  You can hear from Cameron on the High School Roundup Saturday morning at 11:40 AM on 97.1 FM, 96.1 FM and streaming online at sportsanimalradio.com.  If you can’t listen at that time, the show will be uploaded onto iTunes Saturday afternoon.  Just search “Oklahoma High School Roundup”.

Previous Award Winners:

2012 Stanvon Taylor-East Central
2011 Andrew Hearon-Metro Christian
2010 Demarco Cobbs-Central
2009 Timothy Flanders-Midwest City
2008 Mark Ginther-Jenks
2007 Gerald Jones-Millwood
2006 Gerald McCoy-Southeast
2005 Reggie Smith-Edmond Santa Fe
2004 DJ Wolfe-Lawton Eisenhower
2003 Robert Meachem-Booker T Washington
2002 Matt Warren-Putnam City North
2001 Bobby Klinck-Jenks
2000 Wes Welker-Heritage Hall
1999 Chris Massey-Spiro
1998 Matt Holliday-Stillwater
1997 Josh Fidler-Jenks
1996 Vernon Maxwell-Midwest City
1995 Bennie Butler-Del City
1994 Marcus Nash-Edmond Memorial
1993 James Allen-Wynnewood
1992 J.R. Conrad-Fairland
1991 Che Foster-Edmond Memorial
1990 Cale Gundy-Midwest City
1989 Dewell Brewer-Lawton
1988 Mike Filson-Edmond Memorial
1987 Tony Brooks-Booker T Washington
1986 Quinn Grovey-Duncan

Winter Weather Wreaks Havoc On Playoffs

     With what meteorologists are calling an “arctic blast” about to hit Oklahoma.  The OSSAA has come out and decided that the best move is to delay this week’s games one week.  With all the games being played in Stillwater, and travel becoming an issue, this is the best move that the OSSAA could have made.  McAlester head coach Brian Pratt and his Buffaloes ended a 2 game losing streak in the semifinals with a win last week.  Their shot at a state title will have to wait one more week, something that Pratt is okay with.  “The number 1 concern is the safety of students and fans, so moving it doesn’t bother us because of that.  When you have a chance to play for a state championship, we are willing to do just about anything,” Pratt said.  McAlester will face Guthrie in a battle of 5A’s top offense and 5A’s top defense with the gold ball on the line.  Guthrie head coach Rafe Watkins thinks the extra week is a good thing for his team.  “We are all in the same boat good or bad.  The good is our young kids get another week of practice under their belts.  The banged up get another week to heal,” Watkins said.  Originally scheduled to take place on Friday at 7PM at OSU, the 5A title game will now be next Saturday (December 14th) at 7PM at OSU. 
    Another big move was the OSSAA announcing that not only would the 6A game be delayed a week, but it would change venues completely.  The 6A title game between Jenks and Union will now take place on Thursday (December 12th), but instead it’ll be played at the University of Tulsa’s Chapman Stadium.  I’m not opposed to that, in fact, it’s just logical that two Tulsa schools play in Tulsa instead of driving all the way to Stillwater.  What was surprising was the OSSAA was able to do it and get out of their agreement with Oklahoma State about hosting all 11 man championship games at Boone Pickens Stadium.  At the time of posting this, we did not have an answer from the OSSAA.  Union head coach Kirk Fridrich is an obvious fan of the decision to have the game in Tulsa.  “It’s much more convenient for all involved,” Fridrich said on the move to Tulsa.  Fridrich continued, “It’s hard to complain about the decision, this game is bigger then just the teams.”
    The championship games in 6A-4A as well as Class B and C will be played next week.  The semifinals in 3A-A will also be played next week with the championship games the following week at Boone Pickens Stadium on December 20th and 21st.  In class 2A, Vian was ready for their shot at revenge against the team that eliminating them a season ago.  “We were ready to play but I think the OSSAA made the right call,” said Vian head coach Brandon Tyler.  Vian will face Davis next Friday (December 13th).  Because of the changes caused by weather we will postpone our 6A title game preview and 2A & 3A semifinal preview until next week.  We’ll continue to put out original content but the previews will continue next week. 
    Here’s the updated schedule for the 2013 playoffs according to ossaa.com
Class 6A Championship Game
Jenks VS Union AT Chapman Stadium (TU) on Thursday December 12th at 7:00 PM
Class 5A Championship Game
Guthrie VS McAlester AT Boone Pickens Stadium (OSU) on Saturday, December 14th at 7:00 PM
Class 4A Championship Game
Anadarko VS Poteau AT Boone Pickens Stadium (OSU) on Saturday, December 14th at 1:00 PM
Class 3A Semifinal Games
Blanchard VS Plainview AT Moore High School on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 PM
Seminole VS Kingfisher AT Choctaw High School on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 PM
Class 2A Semifinal Games
Vian VS Davis AT McAlester High School on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 PM
Millwood VS Hartshorne AT East Central University (Ada) on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 PM
Class A Semifinal Games
Talihina VS Ringling AT SE Oklahoma State University (Durant) on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 PM
Hollis VS Apache AT Cache High School on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 PM
Class B Championship Game
Laverne VS Pond Creek Hunter AT SW Oklahoma State University (Weatherford) on Saturday, December 14th at 1:00 PM
Class C Championship Game
Tipton VS Cherokee AT SW Oklahoma State University (Weatherford) on Saturday, December 14th at 7:00 PM

5A State Championship Game Preview

Guthrie Blue Jays (13-0) VS McAlester Buffaloes (12-1)

The Road To Boone Pickens Stadium

Guthrie’s Journey To Stillwater:

The Blue Jays absolutely blasted their first 5 opponents by a combined score of 266-41. Granted, those 5 opponents finished with a combined 7 wins, two teams finished 2013 winless. You couldn’t put too much stock in the first 5 weeks of the Guthrie season, they played teams that just couldn’t be competitive. Then came week 6. The defending champs were on the schedule as Guthrie faced Carl Albert. Guthrie was able to win that game 28-21 coming from behind to do it without their best player Kai Callins who left the game with an injury. Guthrie would go on to win games over Edmond Deer Creek and Bishop McGuinness by a combined score of 61-10. Guthrie finished the regular season 10-0 and the unanimous #1 ranked team in 5A going into the playoffs. The #1 ranked Blue Jays opened up their playoff run by blowing out a Chickasha team that never stood a chance, Guthrie won 40-3. With a win, Guthrie advanced to their 8th consecutive quarterfinal appearance. Guthrie faced a tough Shawnee team in their weather delayed quarterfinal game on Saturday instead of Friday night. The Blue Jays escaped with a hard fought 23-21 win. Shawnee scored and made it 23-21, they recovered an onside kick with just over 5 minutes left and had the ball at the Guthrie 40 yard line. Shawnee then fumbled the ball away and with it, their chance at the upset. Guthrie recovered and ran out the rest of the time on the scoreboard. Guthrie then blew out Collinsville in the semifinals. The Cardinals jumped out to a 7-0 lead and then gave up 45 unanswered in the 45-13 loss.

McAlester’s Journey To Stillwater:

The Buffaloes’ non district schedule was without a doubt tougher then Guthrie’s. They got wins over Stillwater and Claremore and lost a 2 point decision to Booker T Washington. Booker T Washington would finish 7-3 in the 6A regular season. McAlester was putting up video game numbers but the defense was concerning. The Buffaloes gave up an average of 38 points per game in non-district play. McAlester entered district play as the favorite to win 5A-3. The Buffaloes would get a better performance from their defense throughout district play but in the 5th game of the season the offense took a big hit. Very early on in the game with Shawnee, a top 10 team, McAlester lost their star quarterback Dalton Wood to an ankle injury. McAlester had their lowest offensive output of the season in that Shawnee game but still won 28-14. The Buffaloes would then play the next 4 games without Wood before he returned for the regular season finale against Memorial. He didn’t miss a beat. They put up 70 points on Memorial. The following week they opened up the playoffs and continued that dominant performance on offense. McAlester dropped 76 points on East Central. More impressive then that (and how can you get MORE impressive then 76 points?) they did it with over 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. McAlester would get the defending state champs in the quarterfinals. Their offense was rolling but questions remained regarding their defense. Those questions were answered with an emphatic 52-13 win eliminating the defending champion Carl Albert Titans. The Buffs moved on to their 3rd straight semifinal appearance, they lost their last two appearances. They beat Lawton Mac 56-20 to reach their first title game since 1996.

Who Has The Offensive Edge?

Michael: McAlester

Are you kidding me? Was their even a question about this? This is the best offense in 5A, and it could very well be the best offense in Oklahoma. They make scoring 50+ points look unbelievably easy. Anytime when your season low in points is 28, you’ve got a dominant offense. The fact that they make scoring look easy is what should concern opponents. They’re playing their best football right now as a unit and Guthrie is going to have a hard time stopping them. Guthrie is going to run into what other teams run into, they simply can’t keep up. The last time McAlester failed to score at least 50 points, was all the way back on October 25th in a 38-10 win over Bishop Kelley. Let that sink in. McAlester can beat you in the air. McAlester can beat you on the ground. The Buffaloes are on a mission for that state title and I don’t think Guthrie will be able to manage enough points to keep up. Since Wood returned from his ankle injury in week 10, McAlester has averaged 63.5 points per game. Guthrie has scored 60+ only twice and those two times came against teams that finished a combined 0-20. McAlester with a huge edge on offense.

Matt: McAlester

The offensive edge without question goes to McAlester who has averaged video game like numbers all year putting up 52 points per game. McAlester has done nothing but step up their offensive game during their playoff run, in three games they have averaged 61 points per game. Why is McAlester’s offense virtually unstoppable? You have to stop someone and there isn’t anyone that you can just key on to shut down in this offense. At Quarterback you have Junior Quarterback Dalton Wood who is having an outstanding year throwing for 1,708 yards and 22 touchdowns. I know you’re thinking well he didn’t throw for over 2,000 yards how is he having an outstanding year? Wood didn’t even play in four games this year yet he has still nearly thrown for over 2,000. Wood can set in the pocket and fire darts down field or if everything is covered watch out he can tuck it and run. The junior QB has run for over 1,000 yards on the year and 17 touchdowns. Wood has accounted for 39 touchdowns for this McAlester offense and has been the biggest key to its success. Wood is what makes McAlester’s offense run but that being said, he has some great help around him, and that starts with Jarome Smith at running back. Smith is an unknown weapon to those who don’t follow McAlester closely. Smith is a speedy back that seems to just bounce away from defenders and find his way to the end zone Smith has run for 1,927 yards on the ground and 23 touchdowns. Wood and Smith are far from the only weapons of this offense that seems to not have a weak link. This offense will put up points on Guthrie just as they have against everyone else they have faced.

Who Has The Defensive Edge?

Michael: Guthrie

Let me start this off by saying, McAlester’s defense is going to have more success. That’s not the question though, the question is, which defense has the edge? You can make an argument that McAlester’s defense has the edge, simply because their offense is too strong for Guthrie’s defense. Guthrie has the better defense, but in my opinion it’s not going to be enough. You can’t argue with the stats. This is the #1 defense in 5A. The Blue Jays have been dominant all season long and will need their defense to be in top form going into the title game against McAlester. Talk about a difference between two units. Guthrie has only given up 20+ points on 2 occasions this year. McAlester has scored 40+ in 11 of 13 games this year. Something has to give. McAlester’s defense has been playing a lot better but Guthrie has been strong all year while McAlester’s defense has been spotty at times. The Buffaloes have given up 20+ points on 8 occasions this season. When it comes down to it, you just have to trust the numbers. Guthrie doesn’t give up many points, McAlester does. The Buffaloes could play well on Friday, and I don’t think Guthrie will have too much success defensively, but when you compare the two units against one another, you have to give Guthrie the edge.

Matt: Guthrie

The Defensive edge goes to Guthrie, who has shut down offenses throughout the season. Guthrie has allowed just 8.5 points per game this year. In 9 of Guthrie’s 13 games they have allowed 8 points or less. In fact, Guthrie has only given up more than twenty points in a game two times this year. One of the two times that Guthrie has given up points came to a Shawnee team in the quarterfinals. Guthrie then came out and really set the tone hitting Collinsville in the mouth and holding the Cardinals to just 7 points in the semifinals. Guthrie’s defense prides itsself on stopping the run and shutting down teams on the ground. Guthrie has kept teams out of the end zone by getting them to turn the ball over in key situations. Guthrie will have their toughest test of the year by far on Friday night.

X-Factor:

Michael: Riley Smith-McAlester

Sometimes you gotta go outside the box. Everybody knows about the playmakers on McAlester’s offense. So if they have a big game nobody should be surprised. People know about Dalton Wood, Jarome Smith, Caden Pratt, this Buffalo offense has been dominant all year. They’ll show up and they’ll impress again like they have all season. My X-Factor is a guy on McAlester’s defense. Riley Smith has been one of the leaders of this McAlester defense. It’s been noted that their defense has been spotty. It’s also been noted that they are playing a lot better and Riley Smith is a big reason for that. I think that the offense for McAlester will put up plenty of points, so the question is, can McAlester’s defense stop Guthrie’s offense? I think they can and I think Riley Smith will be a big reason for that. Smith is a disruptor on defense and makes a living in the backfield. He’ll make enough plays to stop the flow of Guthrie’s offense when McAlester needs a stop. McAlester will give up points, but Smith will be a major key to getting the stops that the Buffaloes need to win this game.

Matt: Jarome Smith-McAlester

Jarome Smith, McAlester’s tailback is my X-Factor in this 5Atitle tilt. Smith is my X-Factor because he can make some phenomenal plays with his legs and he’ll be one of Guthrie’s main players if not their main player that they try to shutdown. Smith is a running back who, behind some great blocking from his offensive line, has been able to take McAlester’s offense to new heights. Smith has a great offensive line, but he is not a back that just runs behind his offensive line to gain his yards. When Smith gets out in the open field is when he is most dangerous. He could go to the house any time the ball touches his hands. Smith is a back that once you see him in person you are amazed with his ability to run the ball and get away from defenders. Defenses seem to just fall off of Smith when they go to tackle him. He finds a way to elude defenders and pick up extra yards after contact. Smith will be going up against the best defense he has faced all year in Guthrie on Friday night. He’ll have his hands full on Friday, but he is going to look to show Guthrie and Oklahoma, all of his magnificent talent.

A Look Into The Crystal Ball

Michael: McAlester Beats Guthrie 41-31

There should be no secret by now. I like the Buffaloes to win this game. I’m so impressed by what they’ve been able to do over the last couple weeks in the playoffs. It’s easy to just focus on the unbelievable point production that the offense has achieved. They’re scoring so many points that it’s almost looking easy. It looks as if they’re playing JV teams. That’s not a shot at the teams that the Buffaloes have faced, it’s a compliment about how well the McAlester’s offense has been clicking. I see a lot of points being scored in this match-up. The McAlester offense is going to put up points. The McAlester defense has struggled at times so Guthrie will be able to put up points. I really think that this game is very similar to the McAlester-Carl Albert game. At least it’s similar in how I thought it would happen. I thought Carl Albert would score enough points to win in most games, but not in a game against a team and an offense like McAlester. It turns out I was wrong as the Buffaloes made an unbelievable statement on defense. I have that same feeling before this game. Guthrie is going to score points, in fact, I think they’ll get into the 30’s. McAlester is going to continue their impressive run. Guthrie not only gives up 30+ for the first time this season, but they give up over 40. Weather might be a concern, but the Buffaloes proved in the win against Carl Albert, it doesn’t matter what mother nature throws at this team. It was rainy, it was windy, it was cold, the Buffaloes still hung 52 points on the scoreboard. McAlester goes into Boone Pickens Stadium and hands Guthrie their first loss of the season in the last game of 2013. The Buffs win their first state title since 1986.

Matt: McAlester Beats Guthrie 41-35

The match-up that I look to in this game is McAlester’s high-octane offense against Guthrie’s remarkable defense. McAlester has not been stopped all year long and I do not see that changing on Friday night. Guthrie has only allowed more than 20 points in a game twice, that will be broken. McAlester will put up over 40 points on Guthrie’s defense. That being said, that does not guarantee a victory for the Buffaloes. McAlester’s weakness all year has been their defense. Guthrie will take advantage of some misscues by McAlester and put up points. This game will come down to whether or not Guthrie’s defense can get some turnovers as they have all year long. If Guthrie can get McAlester to make mistakes on offense, there is no question they will come out on top, but I do not see that happening. McAlester has just been too strong on offense all year, blowing out teams with point totals as high as 76 in a single game. McAlester won’t put up 76 on this stout Guthrie defense but I do see the Buffaloes putting up just enough points to outlast Guthrie. McAlester takes home the gold ball and beats Guthrie 41-35 in the State Title.

4A State Championship Game Preview

Anadarko Warriors (13-0) VS Poteau Pirates (12-1)

The Road To Boone Pickens Stadium

Anadarko’s Journey To Stillwater:
The Warriors smashed their first 5 opponents by an average score of 63.8-8.4.  Anadarko then had a showdown with the team that denied them the 4A title last year, the Clinton Red Tornadoes.  They dismantled an injury plagued Clinton team by a score of 35-7.  The next week they were bitten by injuries as well and were in a dogfight with Woodward.  The Boomers pushed the Warriors but couldn’t pull the upset as Darko remained unbeaten with an 18-15 win.  Anadarko wouldn’t get pushed again for the rest of the regular season.  The Warriors completed their 4th consecutive 10-0 regular season.  They opened up the playoffs by blasting Elgin in their playoff opener 41-2.  In what I thought would be a reasonably close game, Anadarko beat down Catoosa 40-14 to advance to another semifinal.  The Warriors would get the same opponent in this year’s semifinal that they saw last year, the Wagoner Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs were hungry to avenge last year’s 24-14 loss to Anadarko and get back into the title game.  Anadarko went back and forth with Wagoner before finally pulling away for good halfway thru the 3rd quarter.  The Warriors beat Wagoner by 10 last year, they beat them by 20 this year with a 34-14 victory.  Anadarko has now reached the state title game for the 3rd straight year, they won 3A in 2011 and lost in the 4A title game last year.

Poteau’s Journey To Stillwater:
Over the first two weeks Poteau beat Durant and Van Buren, AR by a combined 4 points.  They beat Webster the following week to wrap up non district play.  It was hard to put a gauge on just how good this team could be as they went into district play in 4A-4.  The Pirates answered some of those questions in the first week of district play when they beat Sallisaw 34-9.  The Pirates went on to make another statement when they beat Fort Gibson by 14 points to remain unbeaten.  Cascia Hall had fallen to Sallisaw in week 5 and it made Poteau’s 25 point win over the Black Diamonds more impressive.  In week 7, Poteau got the opportunity to play the Commandoes.  The Pirates suffered their first loss of the season after a 26-15 loss to Cascia Hall.  Poteau would close out the regular season with easy wins over Muldrow, Broken Bow and Rogers.  Poteau finished the season in a 3 way tie with Cascia Hall and Sallisaw.  The Pirates were named the district champions because of the tiebreaker, which went to the points and Poteau had 10 more points then Cascia Hall.  Poteau opened up their playoff run with a blowout win of Cleveland.  They would get the defending champs in the quarterfinals in a game that went down to the wire.  In a 7-7 stalemate, the Pirates would kick a game winning field goal to beat Clinton.  Poteau would then clash with Deondre Clark and the Douglass Trojans.  In another game that went down to the wire, Jace Pitchford ran in a game winning TD and made the stop on Clark to seal the semifinal win.  Poteau will be playing for the state championship for the first time in 63 years.

Who Has The Offensive Edge?

Michael: Anadarko
I gotta give the edge offensively to Anadarko.  Everyone knows about RJ Sink, the dominant running back for the Warriors.  In fact, that alone might give the edge to Darko.  Quarterback Brandon Pollard showed that they aren’t just a one man show in a win over Wagoner.  Pollard completed 17 of his 18 passes to help lead his team into the title game.  I talked about this in the recap, Pollard’s only incomplete attempt was his first of the game.  He has a streak of 17 straight completions going into the title game.  If he keeps up that pace he’ll be holding up the gold ball with his team at Boone Pickens Stadium Friday afternoon.  This is an offense that comes into the 4A title game averaging 48 points per game.  Anadarko has failed to score at least 30 points only twice this season in 13 games.

Matt: Anadarko
Both Anadarko and Poteau have great offenses.  Poteau’s offense is averaging 37.3 points per game and has had a phenomenal year but Anadarko has the offensive edge.  Anadarko has a running back by the name of RJ Sink, if you haven’t heard of the young man then you must have been living under a rock for the last two years.  Sink has had an exceptional year, running for 2,164 yards and 36 touchdowns.  Sink just has a nose for the end zone and he finds it quite often by making spectacular runs.  The biggest improvement to this Anadarko offense from a year ago is the play of junior quarterback Brandon Pollard.  Pollard, as a sophomore in 2012, threw for just over 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Pollard in 2013 has improved immensely and added a true passing threat to Anadarko’s offense.  He has thrown for 1,809 yards this year, 800 yards more than last year.  The biggest stat for Pollard this year is the number of touchdowns he’s thrown this year, quadrupling last year’s total.  He has thrown for 20 touchdowns this season.  Pollard stepping his play up this year has really added a new dimension to Anadarko.  Opponents can not just key on the this year and shut down Sink because as soon as you do, Pollard beats you in the air.  Anadarko has virtually been unstoppable as they have averaged 48 points per contest this year.  Anadarko really has no weak point on offense and they will give the Poteau defense all they want.

Who Has The Defensive Edge?

Michael: Anadarko
Just like the offense, Anadarko’s defense has put up unbelievable numbers all season long.  The most points the Warriors gave up in a game was 15 in a win over Woodward.  Anadarko has given up an average of just under 8 points per game.  Poteau’s offense has struggled at times and they can’t afford to struggle against Anadarko’s stingy defense, it might cost them a state championship.  Anadarko has seen decent offenses this season like Wagoner, Catoosa and Clinton and hasn’t struggled once.  While the offense has only had problems in one game against Woodward, the defense has shown up week after week to make plays and shut offenses down.  I don’t see that stopping Friday, Anadarko’s defense continues their dominant run and shuts Poteau and Jace Pitchford down.

Matt: Anadarko
Poteau gave up 42 points in week 1 to Durant.  That Durant team would end up just winning 2 games this season.  Poteau then gave up another 40 points in week 2, but the real turning point in the season came when Poteau turned it around in week 3 they held their opponent to just 7 points.  Since giving up 40 points in week 2 Poteau has not given up 40 points to any team.  In fact, Poteau has not allowed 30 points since week 2.  Poteau has only allowed an opponent to score over 20 points twice since week 2. The Pirate’s season average for points allowed to opponents is 15.3 points per game.  That said, if you take out Poteau’s first two games, Poteau since week 2 has only given up 10.2 points per game.  Poteau has really turned their defense around and has them going strong at the right time.  All that being said, I give the defensive edge to Anadarko.  How can I not?  Anadarko has only allowed 7.7 points per game this year.  Anadarko has shut 3 teams out and in eight of Anadarko’s 13 games they have held opponents to seven points or less.  The most points they’ve given up in a game is just 15.  That is just mind blowing.  Poteau’s defense has improved but the edge in this game goes to the stout defense of Anadarko.

X-Factor:

Michael: The Poteau Pirates
Some people believe in destiny, others don’t.  Sometimes in sports, a team makes you feel that they’re destined for success.  Perhaps this year’s Poteau Pirates are destined for gold.  We’ll find out on Friday afternoon about whether this team can live up to that or not.  All signs point to Anadarko in this one.  Offensively, defensively, Anadarko has the edge.  The Warriors have been here before.  In the last 3 years, Anadarko is a combined 41-1 with 3 state title game appearances and won the 3A title in 2011.  The last two years Poteau was a combined 10-10 team with no playoff appearances.  In fact, Poteau hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2009.  This is also Poteau’s first trip to the title game since 1950.  It was just two years ago that Anadarko reached their first ever title game and went up against powerhouse Cascia Hall.  The Warriors were the underdog but came out and got a surprising dominant win.  Maybe Poteau will give Anadarko a taste of their own medicine.  Just watch out for Poteau and their run at a possible first ever state championship.  Sometimes teams are destined for success, Anadarko is the heavy favorite in this game, watch out for Poteau.  Weird things happen when gold is on the line.

Matt: Jace Pitchford-Poteau
Pitchford for Poteau has to be the X-Factor, he is the one that can make this game close and give Poteau a shot.  Pitchford has had an outstanding year throwing for 1,441 yards and 22 touchdowns with a 56% completion rate.  On each completion, Pitchford is averaging 13.7 yards.  Pitchford is far from just a passing quarterback, he is the definition of a dual threat quarterback.  That is why he is the X-Factor because he can do so much for Poteau.  Pitchford ran for 1,187 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground averaging 91 yards per game.  Pitchford does not just play quarterback, he plays a little on defense as a defensive back where he has an interception as well.  Not done there, Pitchford is Poteau’s field goal kicker.  Pitchford won his team the game against Clinton in the second round with a field goal with six seconds left to lift his team to a 10-7 win over the defending champions.  Pitchford will need to play the best game of his high school career to beat Anadarko and bring the gold ball home to Poteau.

A Look Into The Crystal Ball

Michael: Anadarko Beats Poteau 31-21
Anadarko has the #1 offense in Class 4A.  Anadarko has the #1 defense in Class 4A.  Anadarko has been here before.  All signs point to Anadarko in this match-up for the state title.  Here’s the moment where I say “not so fast” and pick Poteau in an upset.  No chance.  There’s a reason why they have the #1 offense and defense.  There’s a reason why they’ve been here before putting up a 41-1 record over the last 3 years.  The Warriors will win their 2nd championship in 3 years and advance to 42-1 in those 3 years.  Poteau will give Anadarko their closest game since they were nearly upset by Woodward.  In fact, I think this game will be close going into the 4th quarter.  That’s where the Warriors pull away.  I think Poteau as a team is the X-Factor in this game, they could surprise in this one but I don’t think they can do it.  I think Poteau will do what no team has done this year, I think they score over 20 points against the Warriors’ defense.  Anadarko won’t let them get much more and their offense will put up enough points behind the outstanding running from RJ Sink and the elevated play of quarterback Brandon Pollard.  Anadarko pulls away from Poteau in the 4th quarter and continues their dominant run in this decade.  The Warriors win their 2nd title and 1st in 4A at the expense of Poteau.

Matt: Anadarko Beats Poteau 30-14
As you can see, I gave both the offensive and defensive edges to Anadarko.  They are no doubt my pick to win the 4A title game but Poteau could make this a great ball game.  Poteau must have Pitchford play great for them to be in this game.  They are going against the top defense in class 4A in Anadarko on Friday afternoon.  I see Poteau making it somewhat of a game but in the end Anadarko will come out on top and beat Poteau.  Anadarko will slow down Poteau’s offense that averages 37 points per game.  I will be surprised if Poteau exceeds 15 points because that is the most Anadarko has allowed all year long.  I’m not saying it can’t be done but I don’t see it happening.  Anadarko’s defense gets turnovers and has just shut down opponents.  On offense, Anadarko will pound the ground with RJ Sink who is a remarkable talent at running back.  The thing that pushes Anadarko over the top on offense and as a team in my opinion is the ability of Brandon Pollard at quarterback.  He has enhanced his skills throwing the ball and has taken this offense and team to a whole new level.  Anadarko’s ability to shut down offenses and the way they hang points on the scoreboard are the reasons why I have Anadarko winning and beating Poteau for the 4A championship.

Steve Spavital Resigns As Broken Arrow Head Coach

Most of Oklahoma was stunned by the sudden news of Steve Spavital’s resignation as head football coach at Broken Arrow.  The news came down in a press release from BA on Monday evening.  Spavital just finished up his 4th year as Tiger head coach with a 30-18 loss to Union in the 6A semifinals last week.  The Tiger head coach has decided that he wants to focus on family and getting his health issues in check.  Spavital had them following to say in the press release.

“During the last few years, I’ve been battling several health issues that make coaching a challenge.  I am a competitor, and it’s frustrating to have my coaching performance limited by issues beyond my control. The players deserve a head coach who can give them 100 percent and I have reached a point where I just can’t do that for them anymore.”

Spavital was 39-12 in his 4 seasons as Tiger head coach.  Spav also led the Tigers to their first title game since 2002.  He spent 3 years as an assistant under Ron Lancaster as the “coach in waiting”.  Before that, Spavital was a long tenured assistant on the Bill Blankenship Union teams of the 90’s and 2000’s.  In a text message conversation I asked Spav about the upcoming coaching search, his response, “We are going to open it up.”  When asked if he would be part of the search process, “No, I don’t want to add pressure on anyone, just want to be supportive.”  Athletic Director Ken Ellett said that he hopes to name a new coach by February.

Playoffs Week 3 Recap

It’s championship week in 6A, 5A, 4A and the 8 man classes B & C.  Classes A-3A have advanced to the semifinal round.  We’ll bring you the best coverage of championship week that you’ll find anywhere.  Before we start previewing everything, we need to go back to last week.  It’s time for a recap from the 4A-6A semifinals as well as the 2A-3A quarterfinals.  Keep coming back every day, we’ll have new content daily.  Enjoy!

Class 6A Semifinals

Union Holds Off Broken Arrow Rally, Beat Tigers 30-18

The Redskins continued their dominance over rival Broken Arrow.  With a win, Union is now 30-1 against BA in their last 31 meetings including 3 playoff wins in the last 5 years.  Union jumped out to a 16-0 lead but Broken Arrow pulled with 7 points by halftime.  The deciding play was in the 4th quarter when Broken Arrow was driving down 30-18.  The Tigers had 1st and 10  on the Union 12 but a 34 yard  loss and an eventual punt sealed BA’s fate.  The Redskins would go on to win and advance to another state championship game, the 5th title appearance in Kirk Fridrich’s 6th season as head coach.

Jenks Dominates Westmoore From The Start, Beat Jaguars 46-14

These two 6A-2 teams met back in week 7 in a rainy contest that Jenks won 24-0.  In the rematch, Westmoore was able to get on the scoreboard and get over the century mark in total offense but the result was the same.  The Trojans jumped out to a 32-0 lead very early in the 2nd quarter and coasted to a win and yet another state championship game.  Westmoore had no answer for Jenks’ run game and their offense couldn’t get going against this Jenks defense for the 2nd time this season.  The Trojans advance to their 24th title game in school history and look to finish the season unbeaten.

Class 5A Semifinals

McAlester Continues Dominant Run, Beat Lawton Mac 56-20

Lawton Mac led 6-0 but by halftime, everyone in the stadium forgot that the Highlanders were leading at one point.  McAlester exploded to a 30-13 halftime lead.  It got close in the 3rd quarter as Lawton Mac would score to make it 30-20, but that would be as close as the Highlanders would get.  McAlester used the pass game, the run game, defense and special teams to perfection in putting up another 50+ point night.  The Buffaloes reached the semifinals the previous two years but each trip ended with a loss.  Friday night, they play for their first state title since 1996.

Guthrie Ends Collinsville’s Dream Season, Beat Cardinals 45-13

Similar to the other semifinal, Collinsville led early but nobody remembers that because of the outcome.  The Cardinals jumped out to a 7-0 lead and then it was all Guthrie until the end.  The Blue Jays responded to the Collinsville TD with 7 of what would be 45 consecutive points.  Guthrie tied the game up and never looked back to advance to the title game.  The Blue Jays are looking for the 2nd title in 3 years.  On their way to that title in 2011, they beat McAlester in the semifinals and then dispatched of Lawton Mac in the title game.  They get the Buffs on Friday.

Class 4A Semifinals

Anadarko Ends Wagoner’s Season Again In Semi’s, Beat Bulldogs 34-14

Last season Anadarko beat Wagoner in the semifinals 24-14.  In the rematch, it got worse.  The Warriors bounced the Bulldogs out of the playoffs for the second consecutive year getting a 20 point win.  When talking about Anadarko, most people talk about running back RJ Sink, and with good reason, Sink is dominant.  It was quarterback Brandon Pollard that stole the show to send his Warriors to their 3rd consecutive state title game. (2011-3A, 2012-4A)  Pollard finished 17-18 threw the air and that one incomplete pass was on his first attempt.

Poteau Continues Improbable Run, Beat Douglass 27-20

Before the season started, no major publication that previews Oklahoma high school football had Poteau in the top 10 in 4A.  Fast forward 3 months later, the Poteau Pirates are going to be playing for a state title.  Jace Pitchford has been the team leader all season long and he stepped up late in the 4th quarter two different occasions to help get the win.  With the game tied at 20 and 2:26 left, Poteau converted a 4th and goal from the 1 on a Pitchford TD.  Douglass faced 4th and 1 to keep their title game hopes alive and it was Pitchford that came up and made the stop on LSU commit Deondre Clark.

Class 3A Quarterfinals

Blanchard Keeps Possible Repeat Alive, Beat Lincoln Christian 42-13

The defending champions continue their undefeated season as they dispatched upset-minded Lincoln Christian to advance to the semifinals.  The Lions jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and just added on in the 2nd half.  Lincoln Christian was able to stop Victory Christian’s passing attack last week in an upset win over the Conquerors in OT, they were not able to do the same to Blanchard’s rushing attack.  Lion running back Braden Stringer finished with 340 yards and all 6 Blanchard TD’s.  Blanchard faces off with Plainview for a chance to defend their title at Boone Pickens Stadium in 2 weeks.

Plainview Stops Locust Grove’s Surprising Season, Beat Pirates 41-12

You hear all the time about how you don’t get moral victories in sports.  Sometimes I disagree and this is one of those times.  Locust Grove finished their season in a 41-12 loss to Plainview, their final record was 12-1.  The 4 seasons prior to 2013 their combined record was 6-34.  This is a young Pirate team and they’ll have more seasons like 2013 and less of what they went thru in the 4 seasons prior.  Plainview returned to their dominant ways in convincing fashion.  They continue to dismantle teams that aren’t Tuttle.  They get the defending champs in the semifinals.

Seminole Runs Away From Hilldale, Beat Hornets 43-28

Papi White.  Maybe one day I’ll stop leading recaps on Seminole wins with “Papi White.”  Not today though.  White once again showed why he’s one of the more valuable players in the state of Oklahoma today.  Hilldale hung tough with the unbeaten Chieftains but fell short in the 4th quarter.  The two teams exchanged blows and went into the 4th quarter tied at 21.  It was at that point that Hilldale started making mistakes and White made them pay.  White had another 300 yard game, 4 rushing TD’s and a defensive touchdown.  White and Seminole get their toughest test yet, a hungry Kingfisher team.

Kingfisher Continues To Dominate, Beat Beggs 46-8

The Yellowjackets continue to roll.  Not a lot else to add.  This game was a complete mismatch like almost every game Kingfisher has played so far this season.  A 27 point win in early November against Marlow continues to be the closest game that Kingfisher has played all season.  That might change this week.  They get Papi White and Seminole and we get to see two of the best running backs in Oklahoma clash as White and the Chieftains take on Kingfisher’s Landon Nault and the Yellowjackets.

Class 2A Quarterfinals

Vian Escapes Hennessey To Advance To Semi’s, Beat Eagles 21-20

Last year it was 40 point blowouts and games over by halftime.  This season it hasn’t been so easy, but the only constant thru the differences in the 2012 Wolverines and the 2013 Wolverines has been winning.  Vian beat Hennessey for the second straight year, this time it was exciting.  Hennessey jumped out to a 20-0 lead but Vian came storming back.  The Wolverines got a 90 yard punt return to make it 20-14 in favor of the Eagles.  A fumble recovery at the 50 and a go ahead touchdown with 38 seconds left put Vian back into the 2A semifinals.  They get their shot at revenge against Davis.

Davis Comes Back And Avoids Upset, Beat Adair 28-27

For the second straight week, the undefeated Wolves were almost upset.  Last week it was a 5 point win against Christian Heritage.  This week it was a 14 point comeback in the 2nd half to advance to the 2A semifinals.  Adair has been a team over the last several seasons that has consistently put good regular season records together but couldn’t match that success in the playoffs.  It looked like they were finally going to get there.  They led 27-14 at halftime and could do no wrong.  For the second straight year, Davis beat Adair by a single point, eliminating the Warriors, and advancing Davis to the semi’s.

Millwood Wins Slugfest With Meeker, Beat Bulldogs 14-6

Millwood had a war with unbeaten Meeker with a spot in the 2A semifinals on the line and they got the job done.  The Falcons have been tested before but they’ve always been able to put up points.  That was not the case against Meeker.  Millwood’s previous season low in points scored was 31.  The Falcons managed 14 points, 17 below that season low.  The Falcons move on but we’ll see how they bounce back from a battle with Meeker.  They get Hartshorne in the semi’s, the same Hartshorne team that dethroned the defending champs OCS, that OCS team gave Millwood their closest game this year.

Hartshorne Advances To Semi’s With OT Win Over Champs, Beat OCS 32-25

The Miners went back and forth with the defending state champs and came out the winner.  Hartshorne never led in the game until the final touchdown in overtime.  The Miners scored a game tying touchdown with a little over 6 minutes left in the game.  They missed the extra point and the last 6 minutes played out with no scoring.  The Saints had the ball first but fumbled and Hartshorne came up with it.  They scored and got into the 2A semifinals.  The Miners now get the #1 Millwood Falcons.  OCS gave Millwood their closest game in October, now it’s time to see if Hartshorne can do the same.

Come back tomorrow when we put out our Class 4A championship game preview.  Here’s the schedule for the rest of the week,

Tuesday: 4A Title Game Preview

Wednesday: 5A Title Game Preview

Thursday: 6A Title Game Preview

Friday: 3A & 2A Semifinal Preview