Defending Champion: Clinton
It hasn’t been an easy year for the defending champs in 4A. An injury plagued season has left Clinton with some question marks coming into the playoffs. Clinton answered some of the question marks handling their business in the season finale on the road against a good Woodward team. Clinton is on the right side of the bracket on their road to a 3rd consecutive title game appearance. They avoid several of the elite teams and the toughest team they’ll play more than likely is Douglass in a semifinal game. Maybe I’m overlooking Poteau in the 2nd round but I don’t think they’ll be able to keep up with Clinton unless the Red Tornadoes continue to battle injuries. I think Clinton has the potential to make it to that 3rd straight state title game and see a familiar foe in that title game in Stillwater.
1st Round Match-Up to Watch:
Michael: Catoosa AT Cascia Hall
Interesting match-up in the first round because Catoosa lost in week 10 and Cascia didn’t win their district. Both of these teams spent the majority of this season ranked in the top 10. Normally we get a match-up of this caliber in the quarterfinals at the earliest. I want to see how Catoosa bounces back from losing a tough week 10 game against Oologah. The Indians went from possibly being at home to facing Cascia Hall and their signature on the road after a 24-21 loss to the Mustangs. How will Catoosa bounce back from that? The Commandoes are in unfamiliar territory. Their streak of district titles was snapped this season, so instead of a 4 seed they get a 3 seed, and the 3 seed happens to be a team in Catoosa that knows how to win.
Matt: Sallisaw AT Oologah
This game will be a tough game for Oologah as they get a tough draw in Sallisaw from 4A-4. Sallisaw was tied in a three way tie for first with Poteau and Cascia Hall but due to points, Sallisaw finished 3rd. Oologah is led by their quarterback Peyton Craig who nearly threw for 1,000 yards this year he threw 6 touchdowns. Craig also ran for over 700 yards and found the end zone 10 times. A key for Oologah will be to not turn the ball over. Craig has thrown 5 interceptions on the year. Sallisaw is led by Cale Wilison at running back, he nearly rushed for over 1,500 yards this season. Wilson found the end zone 15 times during the regular season. I think Sallisaw will win this game because of their ability to run the ball as well as their ability to get teams to turn the ball over. In last week’s win over Ft. Gibson Sallisaw forced 6 turnovers that led to their victory. Sallisaw wins by double digits over Oologah in the first round.
Michael: Sallisaw Making the Semifinals
Full disclosure, I’m not picking this upset. I’m going with the chalk in my 4A bracket. I think Sallisaw has the best shot of the lower seeded teams at pulling off the upset. I don’t consider Clinton over Poteau to be an upset and that would be the only district champion that doesn’t advance to the semifinals. Maybe I should pull the trigger on this upset because Douglass has struggled in the playoffs for several years now. In fact, since winning the state title in 2010, the Trojans are 0-2 in the playoffs, losing in the first round in each year. I think they can get into the round of 8 this season after beating Elgin in the 1st round. However watch out for Sallisaw in the quarterfinals if you’re a Douglass fan. The Black Diamonds have already pulled off one upset this season when they shocked Cascia Hall, snapping the Commandoes’ district win streak that dated back to 2005. Is it too late to change my bracket? Sallisaw has a legitimate shot to pull this off. No, I’ll stand firm with my chalk, watch out for those Black Diamonds though.
Matt: Woodward and Sallisaw Make the Semifinals.
Woodward has proven this year that they are the real deal as they lost by a combined 8 points to Clinton and Anadarko. Both of those teams are the top teams in 4A in my opinion. Wagoner has struggled in games and has been pushed by teams that they have no business being pushed by. If they are to win in this game Wagoner will have to at least complete a pass which is something they have struggled to do this year. Woodward’s stout defense and offensive attack will find a way to come to Wagoner in the second round and defeat the Bulldogs. The only other upset that I have in class 4A is also in the second round of the playoffs and it is Sallisaw over Douglass. Sallisaw cannot be overlooked. They have a great rushing attack behind Wilson who nearly had 1,500 yards and led his team to a three way tie for the district title. Yes they are a 3 seed but in most any other districts Sallisaw would have won the district. Douglass seems to find a way to disappoint and in all honesty they have the easiest road to get to the Semi-Finals. However, I think that they will overlook Sallisaw and the Black Diamonds will bite them in the quarterfinals and get the win.
Michael: Anadarko-Wagoner & Douglass-Clinton
The only teams that went thru the regular season undefeated will face off in the semifinals for the second consectutive season. Anadarko wrapped up their fourth consecutive 10-0 season and is looking for a third visit to the title game in three years. The Warriors will open up in the 1st round against McLoud. Don’t just put Anadarko into the quarterfinals without looking at this match-up. McLoud nearly upset Douglass in district play and beat down Ada by 13 points in week 9. Would it be a shocker if McLoud upset Anadarko? Yes, is it impossible? No. I don’t think it will as Darko continues to roll. They’d run into either Cascia Hall or Catoosa in the quarters. If they face Cascia, it’ll be a rematch of 2011’s 3A title game that Anadarko won. I think both Catoosa and Cascia Hall can give Anadarko some scares but I don’t think they have enough to come out on top and the Warriors make the semifinals once again. Wagoner’s road to a 4th consecutive semifinal appearance is going to be a challenge. Wagoner’s 1st round opponent will be Fort Gibson, a team that was the favorite to win 4A-4 in the preseason. Speaking of the preseason, Fort Gibson really handled Wagoner in a preseason scrimmage. Obviously these two teams are different then they were in August. Wagoner should get the win in the opening round, but it’ll be a little tougher then it has been in past seasons. Wagoner will play host to the Ada-Woodward winner. I believe that will be Woodward and that means Woodward will have to travel across the state two weeks in a row and that is gonna take a toll on this team. The Boomers have flown under the radar all season long as they’ve pushed both Anadarko and Clinton this season. Playing at home will definitely be an advantage for the Bulldogs and they’ll advance to a rematch with Anadarko. Unfortunately for Wagoner, I believe the result will be the same. If Wagoner had a more established quarterback, I’d like their chances. I think the Warriors are just going to be too much and reach another state title game and see a very familiar foe.
I made note of Douglass’ struggles in the 1st round in the upset watch section. Since winning the title in 2010 the Trojans haven’t been able to get out of the 1st round. The Trojans shouldn’t have a problem in their 1st round game this season. They’ll get a struggling Elgin team. I think Douglass makes a statement and wins with ease to get past Elgin. The Trojans will then play host to the winner of the Sallisaw-Oologah game. Like I said in the upset section, I think they’ll get a dangerous Sallisaw team. It’s not absurd to think that the Black Diamonds could go down there to the OKC area and get a huge win to advance to the semifinals. Having said that I don’t think it happens. Douglass has probably the best overall player in these 4A playoffs in Deondre Clark. Clark is committed to LSU and has made an extreme impact on both offense and defense. The last two years Clark was a defender that you could not stop as he put up monster sack numbers. Now Clark is becoming a monster for the Douglass offense. Clark has made an impact as a running back this season and if you thought it was tough to block Clark, think how tough it’ll be to bring him down as a ball carrier. I think the Trojans will get a tough test from either Sallisaw or Oologah but the Trojans will find a way to win and get into the semifinals. When spotlighting last year’s state champion, I made mention that I’m predicting Clinton makes it to the title game, so obviously I like the Red Tornadoes not only to get to the semifinals against Douglass, but to win. Clinton has battled injuries all season long but it appears that they’re healthy now at the right time with the playoffs now upon us. The defending champs will face Harrah in the 1st round. This game is similar to Anadarko’s match-up with McLoud. Yes, on paper, Clinton should blow them out. We know that games aren’t played on paper. Just like McLoud, Harrah has put a scare into some of the top teams in 4A this season. Clinton isn’t a Douglass or Ada, I don’t see them having a problem and getting the win over Harrah. The Red Tornadoes would then turn around and travel to the East to face the winner of Poteau-Cleveland. Maybe I’m a fool because I still haven’t bought into how good Poteau is and they’re a district champion! Maybe they’re the real deal and could make it to the semifinals. I just don’t see it happening. Poteau’s 9-1 season is a nice story but I don’t think they can beat a team like Clinton. The Red Tornadoes come over to the East and beat down Poteau to advance to the semifinals. Douglass finally got out of the first round and made it all the way to the semifinals. That’s where the season ends for the Trojans. I can honestly see Clinton blowing Douglass out by 20+ points to reach the state title game. I might be off on this but I don’t think I am. As long as Clinton is healthy, I don’t see them having any problem reaching another state title game where they’ll face an Anadarko team for the 4th time in 2 years.
Matt: Anadarko-Woodward & Clinton-Sallisaw
Anadarko will go through McLoud in the first round and then they will find themselves against a determined Cascia Hall squad in the quarterfinals. Cascia will play their hearts out but on that Friday night Anadarko will just be too talented for the Commandoes. In the Semifinal match up with Woodward, it will be a rematch of a regular season game that went down to the wire with Anadarko pulling off a 18-15 win. I think that Anadarko pulls out a win again over Woodward. One of the toughest things for Woodward is going to be all the traveling they will have to do. The first round game they will go across Oklahoma to play Ada. Then, in the quarterfinals against Wagoner, as I wrote earlier, I think that they will pull the upset off over a great Wagoner team. Woodward’s game against Anadarko will be decided the week of where they will play but I can guarantee that it will be their shortest drive of the playoffs. The Boomers reach the semi’s after back to back trips to the other side of the state. If Woodward can stay healthy, they will get to the Semi’s and give Anadarko all they want and more.
Sallisaw will be getting to the Semi-Finals after going through Oologah and Douglass on the road in the first and second rounds. Sallisaw will need to have a great rushing attack behind Wilson as well as a solid effort every game out. When Sallisaw runs into Clinton, if it is a healthy Clinton team which is a big question because they have not been healthy all year long, but if it is a healthy team then they would need to play their best game of the year to beat the defending champs. Clinton will go thru Harrah in the first round and then go on the road to Poteau, which is a game that will really test Clinton. In the Semi’s I have them matched up against Sallisaw who is a team that would be a surprise to most. Don’t sleep on Sallisaw, they are not a team that should be seeded 3rd and they will give Clinton all they could want. I’m picking Clinton to win in the Semifinals but If they have some trouble with injuries like they did in the regular season then it will be tough for them to get past Poteau in the second round. A Healthy Clinton team will be in the State Championship game.
Michael: Anadarko Over Clinton
Last season Anadarko won a 7 point decision against Clinton in the regular season. Clinton returned the favor when it mattered most in December. With the gold ball on the line, Clinton got the best of Anadarko with a 7 point state title victory. Back in October these two squared off and Anadarko ran away from Clinton with a 35-7 statement win over the defending champs. Clinton was dealing with injuries in that game but I think even at full strength, Anadarko might be the better team. Anadarko’s stud running back RJ Sink was also dealing with an injury in that game, yet Darko won by 28. I think the Warriors will remember the heart break of last season. Going 13-0, facing a team you’ve already beaten, and losing when the state title was on the line. I like Anadarko to get the ultimate revenge. Winning the regular season game must have been nice but this one will mean more. I got the Warriors winning the state championship and finishing off another perfect season.
Matt: Anadarko Over Clinton
This game is a rematch of last year’s title game. It was also a rematch of the regular season match up that if you looked at the score you would think the title game was going to be a blowout as Anadarko blew Clinton out of the building with a 35-7 win. If Clinton comes into this game healthy which I think is the biggest question in this whole 4A playoffs. A healthy Clinton team will give Anadarko a much better game that will be a game that is decided by 7 points or less. I have Anadarko squeaking out a win over a healthy Clinton team in the finals.
Come back tomorrow for the 5A playoff preview and also our complete 1st round picks for 2A-6A.