Monday Morning Quarterback offers answers and ask questions on the success of Muskogee area football teams as the non-district action ends.
ARE THE PIRATES WORTHY OF STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TALK IN 2023?
The simple answer is yes. The sting of last year’s ending continues to drive the efforts of the Pirates who are determined to do what it takes to chase the gold ball in Class 4A. With quality road wins over Bishop Kelley (24-21), and Metro Christian (24-7), Poteau made the best of every situation in their home debut at Kostner Stadium with a 42-14 win over Chandler.
If you’re looking for proof that Poteau has what it takes, here’s four reasons, you decide for yourself.
1. Poteau proving size doesn’t matter
The Pirates offensive line by most standards of championship level teams is small but a “team effort” from the guys in the trench to empower the Poteau offense to flourish. Hunter Myers, Troy Waddell and Burke Perry continue to anchor the offensive front. “We’re going to be undersized in every game but this group plays as hard as any I’ve ever had,” said head coach Greg Werner. “Chandler’s nose guard is really good and weighs 290 pounds; our front limited him to just one tackle all night.”
2. Pirates have multiple offensive weapons
Even with Jackson Sommers sideline, the Pirates continue to light up the scoreboard with offense by committee. “Everyone knows about Dax (Collins) but Walyn Waddell has come out of nowhere and is making a big difference,” said Werner. “Holden Mattox (pictured above) and Spencer Perry help to carry the load as well.”
3. Poteau has a new wrinkle
The Pirates make their living running the football but the steady, consistent play of quarterback Sam Tecla, who has completed almost 70 percent of his passes,is giving Poteau the ability to throw the ball effectively. Tight end Adrian Conchos along with Aiden Sockey has continued to come up with key receptions. “Sam already has four touchdown passes in our first three games,” Werner chuckled. “That’s like 12 for other teams. We’re not just throwing the ball but I’m proud that we’re effective when we do.”
4. Confidence, physicality and talent make Poteau hard to beat
With a 3-0 record coming out of the non-district schedule, the Pirates have continued to improve. “This team is so resilient, they never panic even when mistakes happen. We’re just making adjustments and keep playing hard,” said Werner whose team is undefeated going into District 4A-4 action for the first time since 2018.
Poteau begins its quest toward winning the district championship next week with a road trip to take on Fort Gibson.
COULDA – WOULDA – SHOULDA BEEN DIFFERENT FOR HILLDALE
The final score, Claremore 63 Hilldale 13, could have been a lot closer but for the offensive let downs of the Hornets in the first half. The game started ominously for the Hornets as Claremore scored a pair of touchdowns on their first two plays from scrimmage. But the Hornet offense rose to the occasion as sophomore quarterback Dawson Fields did an excellent job of executing the Hornet game plan-the problem was they couldn’t close the deal. They were in the red zone four times in the first half but only came away with 13 points to account for all of the Hilldale scoring. A late drive in the half that would have brought the Hornets to within a score of the Zebras ended when on third-and-goal Fields threw and an interception in the end zone.
“The first half was just a case of not closing the deal in the red zone and the second half we just ran out of gas once Claremore got way out front,” said Hornet coach David Blevins. The Hornets stand 2-1 as they start district play next week at Stilwell.
“DOGS CONTINUE TO MARK THEIR TERRITORY”
A year ago, Wagoner was searching for answers after a 1-2 start in non-district play. Fast forward to this year and the Bulldogs have been dominant going 3-0 in non-district action and leaving Class 4A opponents looking for a weak spot in the defending 4A state champion’s armor.
Wagoner got it’s revenge with a 35-14 win over Grove showing no fear after trailing 7-6 early in the second quarter. The ‘Dogs air attack took flight proving that Wagoner has multiple options to light up the scoreboard evidenced by quarterback Kale Charboneau’s 23-31 passing effort for 323 yards and two scores.
“We’re still undefeated going into district play. We’ve learned what areas we still need work and still won three games. By no means are we a finished product, there’s still a lot of work to do,” said head coach Dale Condict.
Two more keys to Wagoner’s continued success are
Defensive Secondary – Anthony Coleman has grabbed a pass interception in each of the first three games and the speed of Shaun Atkins provides the speed to match up coverage against all opponents.
Running Backs Gaining Ground – Tayshawn Williams and Tristan Edwards are not just making plays with their feet but also proving to be quality receivers out of the backfield.
What does Wagoner still need to solidify?
“Our offensive line was our biggest void losing four of five starters,” said Condict. “We still need to make improvements upfront.”
Wagoner will celebrate Homecoming this Friday entertaining Skiatook in their district opener at W.L. Odom Field.
STIGLER STILL SEARCHING FOR THEIR KNOCKOUT PUNCH
The Indians wrapped up their non-district schedule with a 36-21 loss to Stigler. The Panthers, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A this past week, ran their record to 3-0 on the season but as coach Cade Shearwood told us last week, they’re still lacking that killer instinct.
“It was kind of an ugly win for us to be honest,” said Shearwood. “We were in control of the game but once again we had the chance to put them away in the third quarter, but we let them hang around and make a ball game out of it. That’s something we’ve got to get better at as we go into district play. We played tight on defense for the most part and I think that aspect was better than it has been.” The Panthers were led by Mcade Peery at quarterback who threw for 180 yards and rushed for two touchdowns and Mason Jones who rushed for 151 yards on 22 carries with a score. I think the Panthers are for real even though they’re young and the folks in District 3A-3 better look out. This week Stigler starts playing for real in district action as they travel to Seminole.
THREE REASONS WHY THE BLACK DIAMONDS ARE REBOUNDING
After going 1-19 over the past two seasons, the Sallisaw Black Diamonds are showing signs of renewal under new coach Brandon Tyler and here’s why.
Success follows success. Look at the track record of Brandon Tyler as head coach. He raised Vian to a power in 2A taking them to the playoffs 12 straight years. Same for his tour at Gore where he took the Pirates to the Class A title game last year. Sallisaw has already doubled its win total over the past two years so why not think he can do the same here?
It’s as much mental as physical. Getting the kids to buy into a new philosophy is sometimes tough but somehow Tyler is able to get that done. He credits his coaches with a lot of that but make no mistake Brandon Tyler is a motivator and getting kids to think they can be winners and then getting them to witness that on the field is almost as important as having the physical talent to do the job.
And the Black Diamonds are finding the talent. The one-two punch of quarterback Brock Streun and running back Cole Stephens are getting the job done on offense despite the fact that Sallisaw is still a pretty young team. They’re 2-1 on the season and most importantly they have become believers.
There’s still a lot of season left and Sallisaw competes in a pretty tough district that includes ranked teams like Ada and Poteau but if they can keep up the momentum they stand a pretty good chance of making the playoffs in 2023. We’ll see if the Black Diamonds are able to keep their swagger this week as district play starts on the road at sixth-ranked Ada. Tyler’s squad has the opportunity for a “make the playoffs” statement on Friday.
WILDCATS BREAK THE TIE
The Checotah Wildcats made me look good this week as they rolled over the Eufaula Ironheads 54-27 in the 108th renewal of the McIntosh County showdown. The win gives the Wildcats a 56-55-1 edge in the series and gives them a ton of momentum heading into district play this coming week.
“Our kids were dialed in all week on this game and our game plan,” said Wildcat head coach Zac Ross. “We jumped out to a 14-0 lead and had almost 600 yards of offense. Our offensive line really dominated the line of scrimmage. The defense played great with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.”
Quarterback Jacob Jones (pictured above) had a career game with 463 yards passing and five touchdowns giving him 18 touchdowns with just one interception on the year.
“Jacob’s decision making has been really good this year,” said Ross. “He’s smart and doesn’t force passes. He’s one of our leaders and captains and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I’m really happy for our seniors because this is the first time they’ve beaten Eufaula since they’ve been here.”
In addition to Jones, OU commit Elijah Thomas and receiver Jaydin Bray combined for 16 catches, 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Checotah is 2-1 going into district play and could have been 3-0 had they finished better against Claremore Sequoyah in their only loss. I like the way these guys are looking but they’ll have a tough road ahead in District 3A-3 with Lincoln Christian looming as the favorite and Stigler is young but playing well. The Wildcats celebrate home coming this week (even though they’ve haven’t left home so far this season) as they entertain Muldrow in the district opener.