Defending Champion: Carl Albert
We all know the story by now. The Titans started the year 1-5, limped into the playoffs with the 4 seed out of 5A-2, and won 4 straight games in convincing fashion to win another gold ball. All eyes have been on Carl Albert this year and the champs have only tripped up twice this year. The Titans dropped their season opener to Southmoore and a 7 point loss to Guthrie but the Titans are still one of the elite teams in 5A. A familiar foe awaits Carl Albert in the 1st round. Carl Albert will play host to Del City to start their playoff run. Last year they traveled to Del City as a 4 seed going against the district champion Eagles. This season is a little different as Del City has struggled over the 2nd half of the season. I see Carl Albert winning big in the playoff opener to advance to another quarterfinal appearance. I think the champs go down in the round of 8 as they’ll have to travel to McAlester where the Buffaloes are hungry and waiting to make a statement. The Buffs have the best offense in 5A, and while the defense has been suspect at times, it won’t matter, the Buffs end any chance of Carl Albert going back to back.
1st Round Game to Watch:
Michael: Edmond Deer Creek At Lawton MacArthur
The Antlers had been playing good football until week 10. Deer Creek was blasted by Bishop McGuinness in the season finale by a final score of 56-21. They now have to not only bounce back from a huge let down, but do it against district champion Lawton MacArthur. Lawton Mac is a good team who’s only two losses are to 6A’s undefeated Lawton team and a Del City team that had their starting quarterback which isn’t the case now. Yes, I know, Del City is limping into the playoffs, but when this game was played in September, Del City was easily a top 5 team in 5A. The Highlanders handled their business last week defeating another 5A top 10 team in Ardmore last week to win the district title. However, of the 1 seed vs 4 seed match-up’s in 5A, this could be the one. This could be the most exciting game of the 1st round match-up’s. I want to see how Deer Creek bounces back from last week’s disappointment and whether or not Lawton Mac will continue to roll.
Matt: Bishop McGuinness AT Ardmore
McGuinness surprised me when they went to Deer Creek and beat down on the Antlers. Ardmore lost the district title when they lost to Lawton MacArthur last week finishing 2nd in 5A-1. The X factor in this game is Jacob Lewis, the quarterback for Bishop McGuinness. There have been games that he has thrown more interceptions than completions. On Friday, he will need to play well for McGuinness and I think he will and lead his team to a victory.
Michael: Bishop McGuinness Goes to Semifinals
I know what you might be thinking. How is Bishop McGuinness going to the semifinals an upset? The Irish were in the semi’s last year in their first season competing in 5A. The Irish are 6-4 this season and it’s been a roller coaster year. They started the season 0-2 as the offense could not get any momentum as they dealt with major turnover issues. Quarterback Jacob Lewis looks like he has this offense under control and on the right page as they go into the playoffs. I think the Irish have turned the corner and are playing their best ball right now. I don’t think anybody expected McGuinness to beat down Deer Creek by 35 but that’s what happened. It’s not an easy road to the semifinals but it’s a very manageable road. They’ll have to go on the road for the first and second rounds for this run which could pose some problems. The Irish will open down south against Ardmore in the playoff opener. Ardmore has struggled over the last couple weeks. The were nearly upset by Altus in week 9 and then lost with the district title on the line to Lawton Mac last week. McGuinness gets the win in the first round and continues to roll past a struggling Ardmore team. The Irish will face the winner of Collinsville-Bishop Kelley on the road. I believe they’ll see a Collinsville Cardinal team in the quarters and will have to come east to play. I saw Collinsville in person in week 9 and I expected more from their offense. They struggled at times led by quarterback Zane McElroy. It’ll be a good quarterback match-up as McElroy will go against McGuinness’ Jacob Lewis. I think the Irish are playing good football right now and the Cardinals have been hit and miss for most of the season. I’ll take the Irish to get to the semifinals and see a Guthrie team they lost to 33-7 in the regular season back in week 9.
Matt: Same as Michael’s
Semifinal Match Up’s:
Michael: Lawton MacArthur-McAlester & Guthrie-Bishop McGuinness
Lawton Mac gets past Edmond Deer Creek, look back to my 1st round game to watch to read more about that match-up. I just see the Highlanders playing good football right now and end up getting the best of the Antlers. They’ll get the winner of Pryor-Skiatook in the quarterfinals. I believe it’ll be the surprising Pryor Tigers. Pryor was picked to finish 6th in their district but finished 2nd and played district champion Collinsville down to the wire. The Tigers are led by QB Brennon Barth who leads 5A in rushing TD’s with an astounding 31. I think the Tigers have what it takes to win this game but I’m not sure that they’ll be prepared for the athleticism that they’ll see from Lawton Mac. Pryor has beaten teams with athletes before but this is a Lawton Mac team that knows how to win games and I think they’ll get to the semifinals after a closely contested game with Pryor. The Highlanders will get the McAlester Buffaloes in their final four match-up. McAlester will make their third straight visit to the semifinals after knocking off the two teams that were in last year’s state title game in consecutive weeks. First up is East Central, the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year. The Cardinals are a shell of what they were last year when they went 13-0 and made it to the title game. I don’t think McAlester will have any problem with East Central in the opening round. In fact, a 30+ point victory wouldn’t surprise me. That leaves Carl Albert in the quarterfinals. The defending champs will come to town for a showdown with the Buffs. Carl Albert has a lot of talent but I don’t think they have enough firepower to keep up with McAlester’s offense. This is the best offense in 5A and I can make the argument that it’s the best offense in the state. They are completely balanced and now that they have standout junior quarterback Dalton Wood back from injury, they look to roll again. I like Carl Albert a lot and this is a state championship caliber game in the quarterfinals. It has the makings of an instant classic but McAlester’s offense is going to be too much and the Buffaloes win a shootout late in the fourth quarter. That offense is going to be too much for Carl Albert, I like Carl Albert more than Lawton Mac so I think McAlester beats down Lawton Mac to finally get over the hump of losing 2 straight years in the semi’s.
Guthrie is going to dismantle their first two opponents and roll into the semifinals. Analysis! The Blue Jays are just too good. The Jays will get Bishop McGuinness and I covered the Irish’s road to the semi’s in the upset watch section. Guthrie is really good. They dominated the regular season match-up winning it 33-7. I see the same thing happening in the rematch unfortunately for Irish fans. Guthrie wins big and makes it back to the 5A title game.
Matt: Lawton Mac-Carl Albert & Guthrie-Bishop McGuinness
Lawton Mac will go thru Deer Creek in the first round, which may be a deceiving game if you just look at seeds but Deer Creek could give Lawton Mac a game. I do see Lawton Mac getting past them and in the second round I think they will play Pryor. The Tigers will give Mac’s defense a test to see if they can stop the rushing attack of the Tigers led by their quarterback Brennon Barth. When Lawton Mac gets to Carl Albert in the Semi-Finals they will have met their match. Carl Albert will go thru Del City in the first round in a rematch of last year’s first round game. Del City is a good team but after the loss of their quarterback, they have been a shell of what they were earlier this year. The match up to see who gets to the title game comes in the second round match up between Carl Albert traveling to McAlester. That will be the game to watch in the second round and the game to watch until the title game. I think that Carl Albert will find a way to get the win over McAlester’s high powered offense. A big reason why I think they will is because they will play solid defensively and counter McAlester’s offense with a running game so that Carl Albert will control the time of possession. Carl Albert pulls a close one out and then wins over Lawton Mac by double digits to get back to the title game.
Guthrie has a rather easy road to the title game in my opinion. They will get Chickasha in the first round and then they will get Shawnee in the second round. Shawnee could provide a test for Guthrie but I don’t think it will be too much for the Bluejays. In the Semi-Finals I have them in a rematch with a McGuinness team that Guthrie beat in week 9 33-7. I do see the game being very similar to the one in week 9 in this match up. McGuinness goes as their quarterback Lewis goes and in this game I think is where his ride will end. Lewis will play well in the playoffs but this Guthrie defense will just shut him down and force him to turn the ball over. McGuinness pulls off some upsets to get to the Semis but then Guthrie ends their run.
Michael: Guthrie Over McAlester
The Buffaloes finally take that next step and reach the 5A championship. That’s something the program has been building towards for the last several years. They have one of the best offenses in the state and Guthrie is going to have a very hard time stopping them. Guthrie’s only given up more than 20 points 1 time this season and that was to the defending state champs Carl Albert. I think Guthrie gives up 20, maybe even 30 but not much more than that. The old saying rings true here. Defense wins championships and the Blue Jays have one of the more stout defenses in the state. McAlester’s offense will provide fireworks but their defense has to come up with stops, and looking at this sesason, I don’t think they will. It’ll be a shootout in Stillwater but I think Guthrie gets enough stops while McAlester struggles to come up with a big stop when they need it. Guthrie wins a shootout and claims their 2nd 5A gold ball in 3 years.
Matt: Guthrie Over Carl Albert
I see the championship game being one of the better championship games in the last decade. This game will go down to the final minute. Ultimately, I think the match up comes down to this, Stevie Thompson, Carl Albert’s quarterback against Guthrie’s defense. Guthrie’s defense has only given up 8 points per game all year long. Guthrie has given up more than 20 points in a game just one time all year who would that be against? Carl Albert, as they scored 21 in a losing effort against the Blue Jays. I think it is a similar game that comes down to the wire again and Guthrie once again comes away with the victory and wins the 5A title.
Come back tomorrow for our final playoff preview post when we preview the Class 6A playoffs.
(Spoiler Alert: Jenks and Union will probably be mentioned.)