Coming Up Next: VYPE Plus Editor Nick Hampton previews five of the week’s premier gridiron matchups.
“OFFENSE WINS GAMES – DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS”
One of the highlight games of the week in our area features the up and coming Checotah Wildcats, standing 5-1 on the season and ranked seventh in Class 3A hosting Lincoln Christian, ranked number two in the class and undefeated at 5-0. Both teams are unbeaten in district play and are atop the standings in District 3A-3.
The Bulldogs feature quarterback Luke Milligan who threw for nearly 3500 yards and 40 touchdowns last year while Checotah features quarterback Jacob Jones who is averaging 247 yards a game passing this season with 21 touchdowns. The Wildcats also have the added plus of OU-commit Elijah Thomas who is averaging 115 yards per game in receptions.
But I think the edge in this game may come down to the defenses. In six games, Checotah is giving up an average of just over 22 points a game while the Bulldogs are surrendering a little more than 14 points a game in their five wins. Zac Ross has got the Wildcats believing in themselves and has the home field advantage, but Lincoln Christian is used to the spotlight having won eight of the last nine district titles and being unbeaten at this point in the season is old hat for these guys. I think the Wildcats would have to play at another level to knock off the Bulldogs, but I think they’ll give them a good run for their money.
Nick’s pick: Lincoln Christian 28 Checotah 16
“STOP THE INSANITY”
That might be the thought of the Hilldale Hornets as they prepare to face their third ranked team in the last four weeks as second-ranked Poteau visits Hornet Stadium. The Hornets were buried by Claremore three weeks ago but then played a great defensive game last week but couldn’t break through a tough Ada defense in a 7-0 loss. Evidenced by a 5-0 start, Poteau’s veteran lineup continues to be business like in their “win the day” approach focused on their next foeWhile Hilldale’s youngsters have fared well on defense, the Hornets just haven’t been able to find their rhythm on offense. Too many missed opportunities in the red zone or too many errant routes or passes have limited the Hornet offense to only about eight points a game on average. If there is a silver lining for the Hornets it’s that after this week, they’ll find themselves playing teams more to their level or below the rest of the way. With wins over three teams that were ranked at the time they played, the Pirates have succeeded despite some injury difficulties along the way, and I look for them to continue that trend Friday.
Nick’s pick: Poteau 28 Hilldale 10
THE SHOWDOWN-PART 3
The other big game in the area this week finds top ranked Wagoner hosting number seven Cushing in a Class 4A battle. You’ll recall the teams split two games last year with Wagoner winning the one that counted in the 4A championship game so you can bet that Cushing will be seeking some retribution. But that’s where the similarities end. Cushing graduated a boat load of seniors and have done pretty well at 4-1, tied with Wagoner and McLain atop the district standings. Meanwhile, Wagoner has only gotten stronger it seems this year if that’s possible. Quarterback Kale Charboneau is having a great year with a great cast around him and the Bulldog defense is giving up less than 10 points a game. While some in the media have made a lot of this game, I don’t think it will be close just because of the experience factor that Wagoner has.
Nick’s pick: Wagoner 38 Cushing 20
“KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK”
The Fort Gibson Tigers hope to keep up the momentum provided by last week’s win over Broken Bow thanks to a walk-off field goal as Stilwell visits Leo Donahue Stadium on Friday for homecoming. While it looks like Poteau and Ada are going to run away and hide from the rest of the field in District 4A-4, the Tigers find themselves in a logjam of teams at 1-1 in the district hoping to secure a playoff spot. The Tigers can improve their chances greatly with a win over the Indians who are 0-2 in district play. Judd Rudd and Brelynn Macomb continue to pound the ball on the ground for the Tigers as Rudd had nearly 200 yards rushing and Macomb about 160 last week. It’s a little early in the campaign to call a game a ‘must win’ but Fort Gibson needs to take advantage of their momentum and the lack thereof on the part of the Indians who have lost three in a row to capture a “W” in this one.
Nick’s pick: Fort Gibson 21 Stilwell 12
SHIVER ME TIMBERS
The Gore Pirates, undefeated at 5-0 and ranked seventh in Class A, will get a good test of their ranking Friday as they host Pocola (3-2, 1-0). To me coach Brandon Ellis has done a phenomenal job with this crew after graduating 20 seniors off a team that went to the Class A championship game last year and they’ve done it with just a bunch of hard nosed boys that love to play football. Paced by the play of quarterback Tate Brooksher, the Pirate offense is averaging 42 points a game while their stingy defense is giving up an average of not quite four points a game with three shutouts in five outings. While Pocola with its playmakers may prove to be a little more of an opponent than some of their recent conquests, look for the Pirates to continue taking no prisoners while taking their booty (that would be treasures, loot, etc. not you know…). AARG
Nick’s pick: Gore 35 Pocola 16
CAN’T WE PLAY THIS ON PAPER?
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the big team in our area playing a talent-challenged opponent as the Muskogee Roughers host U.S. Grant in a homecoming affair at Rougher Village. About the only comment I would have is that the Roughers won last year 66-0 and things don’t look to be much different this year.
Muskogee’s offense continues to lead Class 6A-II scoring totals while the Roughers defense enters the game holding opponents scoreless in their last six quarters of play. One of the old axioms in football when you’re talking about possible upsets is “that’s why they don’t play the games on paper”. But part of me wishes this game could be an exception.
Nick’s pick: Muskogee 72 Grant 0
Email either of us if you have any thoughts, suggestions or opinions. nick.hampton@ vype.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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