It’s How You FINISH That Makes The Difference In Victory and Defeat

Last Updated: September 25, 20236.1 min read

Coming up: VYPE Plus editor Nick Hampton examines the margin of victory for football teams in the Muskogee area.


That might be the subtitle of this week’s version of the Monday Morning Quarterback. In our featured games this week the lack of finishing cost one team a win and made a close game out of one that probably shouldn’t have been.


One of my favorite lines in the Pirates of The Caribbean movies is when Captain Barbosa bellows: RELEASE THE CRACKEN. And that’s what the Roughers did last Friday in the form of quarterback Jamarian Ficklin (pictured above) . For the last two years coach Travis Hill has been hesitant to let “Byrd” run too much. But probably because Muskogee’s ground game was stuck in neutral and with starter Latavian Johnson out of action, Hill let the Byrd out of the cage against the Sandites and he romped for a season high 18 times resulting in 162 yards and five touchdowns.

“It was fun to turn Byrd loose. I’ve had people ask me when we were going to let him run more so we did it Friday. With a dual threat guy like that it will make opposing defenses re-think their strategy against us.”

Another thing that made Hill smile was the consistency demonstrated by the offense and defense as the Rougher offense made long drives all night of 65 yards or more whereas they had been dependent on the big play to get on the board in earlier games. And other than a 72-yard touchdown run by the Sandites, the defense limited Sand Spring’s vaunted running game to just 60 yards in the district opener for both teams. Muskogee should retain the top-ranked status in 6A-II this week as they hit the road to Putnam City West Friday. I’m one of those that say it’s about time, Byrd (just don’t be too careless about throwing your body around).


This is one of those games where the lack of finishing in the red zone certainly cost the Hornets points and almost the win. They penetrated the 20-yard line three times in the first half but got just a field goal out of it and that, coupled with four turnovers, kept the Indians in the game and, in fact, in the lead until Gage Rowland, who had nearly 200 yards rushing, ran in the tying score with just over three minute left to play. But again, a miscue by the Hornets allowed the extra point to be blocked sending the game to overtime. And in OT the Hornets Cashed in with big lineman and kicker Cash Schiller (pictured above) dominating with his third field goal of the game on offense and then a sack on defense to ice the game for Hilldale.

“Cash is on the field almost the entire game except for kickoff and punt returns. In addition to his kicking, he also did a great job with his line play opening up big holes for Rowland to run through,” said coach David Blevins.

The Hornets continue their road swing next week against fifth-ranked Ada and Blevins hopes his young team learned a valuable lesson Friday about finishing and sticking with it.

“I’ve said all year this group plays with a lot of grit, and it showed in the fourth quarter. They hopefully learned a lesson in perseverance and playing to the end Friday night.”


Here’s a game where not finishing proved costly for the Black Diamonds.

“We had our chances in that game. We were inside the 20 four times and didn’t get any points so we kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” said head coach Brandon Tyler. “But our guys stepped up and played a great defensive game by holding a team like that to just seven points. Cole Mayfield had 11 tackles and a 74-yard fumble recovery return to lead us but several of the guys on defense had big stops.”

I’m not one who’s big on “moral” victories but in this case, I’ll make an exception. Considering the score in this game last year was 48-0 Cougars and even though they lost, I think that this is yet another sign that Tyler is restoring life to Black Diamond football. This week the ‘Diamonds will be home to Stilwell where they should be favored to win their first district game in two years.


There are a couple of danger signs for all of the teams in District 4A-4 this year as they hear the words of Pirates head coach Greg Werner talking about the Poteau win.

“We played better but I don’t think we’ve put together a full game yet (danger sign),” said Werner. “We’ve been battling some injuries this week and that slowed us down a little (danger sign). We’ve been starting slow and having silly penalties and been a little inconsistent.”

University of Tulsa commit Dax Collins had another excellent game for the third-ranked Pirates carrying just five times for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception on defense.

“We’ve been underutilizing Dax on purpose (danger sign) to keep him fresh for playoff time,” said Werner. “We’re pretty deep at running back so we haven’t had to use him a lot so far but that will change as the season progresses.”

Madill, winless in four outings so far this year, will be the next to feel the swashbuckling of the Pirates sword Friday as Poteau moves closer to their October 27 showdown with Ada for what should be the district title.


Kale Charbonneau (pictured above) passed for 325 yards (just six shy of Malcom Rodriguez’s single game school record) and four touchdowns IN THE FIRST HALF in this walkaway win for the Bulldogs. In addition to praising his junior quarterback, coach Dale Condict also had shout outs to a couple of other Bulldogs.

“Witt Edwards had a nice game with three receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns and he also did a nice job of blocking out on the edge which often gets overlooked, and Trenton Edwards had three carries for 118 yards. I think we’re probably better at running back and in the secondary than I thought we would be but we’re still working on meshing the offensive line where we had to replace four starters this year,” said the veteran coach. Perhaps the only down moment for the coach was losing the season fishing title Saturday in the last tournament of the year by just half a pound.

“I’ll get over that,” he laughed. You can bet that the Oologah Mustangs will not be laughing Friday after the Bulldogs visit their place for a district encounter. 

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