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.

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