Up Next: VYPE+ editor Nick Hampton makes his picks on this week’s football games and the outcomes that will decide playoff hopes for local teams.
To borrow a phrase from our TV friends, it’s BIG GAME FRIDAY this week in the high school ranks with several matchups that have playoff implications, so let’s take a look at them.
The Panama Razorbacks visit Central Sallisaw this week in District A-8 with the district title on the line. The Tigers currently rule the roost with a 5-0 record follow by Panama at 4-1. This game is hard to judge and the only good measuring stick for me is to check common opponents, namely Gore, to see how each has fared. Central beat the Pirates 26-16 while the Panama knocked off Gore by 20. That, plus the fact that they’re playing at home, gives the edge to Central in this one.
Nick’s pick: Central Sallisaw 21 Panama 16
In Class 2A the big game pits the 6th ranked Prague Red Devils of former Muskogee and Warner coach Rafe Watkins hosting the Vian Wolverines. Both teams are 5-0 in district play so in all likelihood the winner takes the district title. But there is a caveat here. Even if they win, Vian still faces a tough end-of-season contest against Sequoyah Tahlequah which sits in third place in the standings next week while Prague finishes next week against an easier foe in Okemah. Again looking at a common opponent like Henryetta which is 4-4 on the season doesn’t help much as both Vian and Prague beat the Knights by 35. While Vian has won five straight after a slow start, they’re still playing with a relatively young team, and I think the seasoned Red Devils playing at home will be too much for the Wolverines to handle.
Nick’s pick: Prague 32 Vian 20
In Class 6A-II top-ranked Muskogee faces their toughest test in several weeks as they travel to Bartlesville to take on the Bruins. Both teams have skin in the game this week. For the Roughers, a win would nail down at least second place in the district which gets them a first round bye and a home playoff game in the second round. Bartlesville’s playoff picture is still up in the air as they are tied for third in the district at 3-2 with Tahlequah and Sand Springs. They could finish as high second in the district or find themselves on the outside looking in depending on how this game and next week’s season ender against Tahlequah goes. So they’ll be looking for a win over Muskogee to help clear things up. The Bruins got quarterback Nate Neal back after missing six games and he looked sharp. The Bruins 3-5 overall record is deceiving being without Neal and they played Stillwater and Sand Springs close and probably should have beaten the Sandites for sure. While the Bruins have some momentum going with the return of Neal and playing at Custer Stadium, I think the Roughers will pay attention to what almost happened to Stillwater and will have too much firepower for the Bruins. I don’t ‘think it will be the runaway that Muskogee has enjoyed the past several weeks but I think the Roughers will be ready.
Nick’s Pick: Muskogee 44 Bartlesville 21
In Class 4A the game of the week pits top ranked Poteau against fourth-ranked Ada. Both teams are undefeated so far this season and have toyed with the rest of District 4A-4. The winner will wear the district crown barring an upset next week as both have easier opponents. The Pirates are still itching for a re-match with Wagoner while Ada is the up and comer. Turnovers could prove costly in deciding the outcome at Costner Stadium #WETSU
Nick’s pick: Poteau 21 Ada 7
And just a quick note about the Sallisaw Black Diamonds who look to be playoff bound following an 0-10 record last year. A win in this week’s game against Fort Gibson will pretty much nail things down for Sallisaw which finishes next week with Madill. Fort Gibson has been up and down all season but I don’t think the Tigers are up to stopping the Black Diamond train especially when Sallisaw can see the playoffs just ahead. Again, kudos to the job Brandon Tyler has done turning this storied football program around this year.
Nick’s pick: Sallisaw 28 Fort Gibson 7
Ending in Class 3A, two area teams are looking to enhance their playoff status. For the tenth-ranked Stigler Panthers it’s pretty much all on the line Friday as they host number seven Berryhill. The Panthers are currently tied with Seminole for fourth place in the district and if they have any hopes of making the post season, they’ll need a win here and probably next week against Checotah to get in. Speaking of the Wildcats, they’re sitting in third place with a bye week before facing Stigler next week. Checotah is pretty much in regardless of what happens next week since they have the head-to-head edge over Seminole and they could even move into second place if Berryhill loses their last two. Berryhill, though, is closing the season strong on a three game winning streak and stands 5-1 in the district sitting in the number two spot behind front-runner Lincoln Christian. I’d like to go with the Panthers here, but my gut tells me that Berryhill has too big a head of steam to be stopped now.