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.

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