That’s how many area teams have survived to make it to semifinals week in the football playoffs. So let’s take a look at this week’s schedule and pick who we think we’ll make it to the Gold Ball round.
First off, it’s the Muskogee Roughers. For the second year in a row the Roughers have advanced to the semifinals stage and this time around the opponent is top ranked Deer Creek. The Antlers, like the Roughers, are 9-2 heading into Friday’s playoff game in Ponca City. It’s a battle of the largest school in Class 6AII against the smallest in Muskogee. Deer Creek lost two of their first three games to 6AI opponents Edmond Memorial and Mustang while the Roughers fell to Class 5As top tanked Carl Albert Titans and to Stillwater.
“On a scale of 1-10 I’d say their quarterback (Grady Adamson) is at least a 9,” said Rougher head coach Travis Hill. “They also have a wide receiver (Mason Smith) who I’d rate as a 9 and their offensive line is about an 8.5. They’re very balanced offensively. Defensively they’re not big but they’re quick and athletic and remind me of Bartlesville. They have what I call a net defense that comes at you from all angles and then just swallows you up like a fishing net. There aren’t any of their defensive players that are really outstanding, but as a group they’re about an 8.5.”
The Rougher offense has had some difficulty with consistency the past three games against Bartlesville, Stillwater and Ponca City but found a way to win late against the Bruins while having a strong second half against Ponca City for a win but falling to the Pioneers. At this stage of the game that’s something they can’t afford to have happen against the Antlers. But while the offense has faltered a little, the Rougher defense has played maybe its best ball of the season in those three games to help balance things out.
Both teams fell in the semifinals last year and both will be hungry to go to the next level this year.
Nick’s pick: Muskogee 27 Deer Creek 22
Bill’s pick: Muskogee 35 Deer Creek 21
The area has two teams still alive in the Class 4A playoffs this week with top ranked Poteau and second-ranked Wagoner moving into this week’s semifinals.
Head coach Greg Werner’s Pirates have had little difficulty rolling to a 12-0 mark this year as their only close game was a three-point win over Bishop Kelley in the season opener. On the season, the Pirates offense has averaged 40.8 points while the fast and aggressive defense has limited their opponents to just 12.1 points per contest. They will take on Blanchard Friday night at Catoosa. The Lions are 11-1 with their only loss coming early in the season to Class 5A Piedmont. The Pirates beat Newcastle in last week’s quarterfinals 28-18 while Blanchard ended Sallisaw’s Cinderella season with a resounding 55-20 victory. Both of these schools are tradition-rich when it comes to playoff time and both teams have speed on both sides of the ball but I’ve got to think there’s a reason Poteau is ranked number one.
Nick’s pick: Poteau 30 Blanchard 25
Bill’s pick: Poteau 28 Blanchard 21
It’s hard to see anyone stopping Wagoner’s march to a second straight Class 4A title. Though the pollsters don’t agree, in my mind Wagoner should not have been dropped out of the top spot in the class after a close win over Cushing in an emotional rematch of last year’s title game knocked them down a notch. The Bulldogs have rolled over everyone except Cushing and are averaging nearly 40 points a game. The Ada Cougars will be the next up to try and stop the Bulldog express and will play Wagoner Friday at Southern Nazarene. Ada at 11-1 is averaging nearly 10 points a game less than Wagoner on offense with their only loss coming at the hands of Poteau in district play. The Cougars beat tradition-rich Clinton in last week’s quarterfinal game while Wagoner shutout Tuttle 30-0 in their game. And in a bad omen for the Cougars, the last two times Wagoner has beaten Tuttle in the quarterfinals, they have gone on to win the title. I think that Kale Charboneau and the Bulldogs just have too much offensive firepower for the Cougars.
Nick’ Pick: Wagoner 34 Ada 18
Bill’s Pick: Wagoner 28 Ada 14
Our last title contender is Vian in Class 2A. This week the Wolverines get a rematch against defending state champ and top-ranked Washington Friday night at East Central University. The two met in the season opener and the Warriors won 55-13. Vian comes in with an 8-4 record but that’s deceiving. Two weeks after the Washington loss, the Wolverines were smacked by Class 3A’s powerhouse Lincoln Christian and their other two losses came at the end of the season when their quarterback Masyn Wright was suspended for a game and half. Given that Vian was just getting the sophomore Wright into the mix in that first meeting with Washington, you can bet that this game will have a different flavor to it. Having said all that, Washington is undefeated with six shutouts during the season and averaging nearly 10 points a game more than Vian. With Wright and sophomore Draighton Fletcher emerging as a dynamic offensive duo for the Wolverines, Vian is definitely a team of the future, but I don’t think that future will come this week.
Nick’s pick: Washington 44 Vian 27
Bill’s pick: Washington 42 Vian 13