In this last week of the high school football season, I got to catch some great games with playoff implications this past Friday. Here’s my take on everything that happened on Week 10.
McAlester Buffs vs. Glenpool Warriors
McAlester had a handled win this week over the Warriors, 31-13, solidifying their spot in the playoffs.
Payton’s Take: Though it was a solid, needed win for McAlester to secure their postseason berth, the Buffs made some costly mistakes early on that showed where they need to improve. Penalties were excessive for the Buffs, and they’ve got to clean that up before taking on the Comets next week in the first round of the playoffs.
“The penalties are killing us,” Coach Forrest Mazey said. “We’ve got to get more disciplined; they’re going to have to find some inner-self-discipline come next week.”
McAlester senior Caden Lesnau also shared a similar sentiment to his head coach. “An ugly win will always be better than a loss any day,” Lesnau said. “We just need to be better when we get momentum and maintaining that momentum. This next week facing Bishop Kelley, we need to keep our foot on the gas from start to finish.”
Senior Zac Rogers had something to say about the Buffs’ win over Glenpool: “A win is a win, even though we were sloppy. It’s the small things we are striving to fix that excites me for our first round game. I feel we are constantly improving on the details and when we tie everything together, we are going to be dangerous.”
“Not going to complain about a win,” Senior Owen Russell said. “Was it done in the way we wanted it to be? No. We need to finish more, get some things right and get prepared for Bishop Kelley. If we play the way we know we can play, then I think we’ll be alright.”
Lastly, Senior Eli Pemberton shared his thoughts. “We won, but it was not at the caliber we wanted,” he said. “We need to learn from mistakes and mess ups, not dwell on them. We need focus on the small details, which are preventing us from playing to the best of our ability. We need to focus on this week and take care of Bishop Kelley.”
Kacin Washington-Mazey finished 15/25 passing for 243 yards and a touchdown, while Carter Lance led receivers with 81 yards, followed by Malachi Wrice with 53 yards and a score, Caden Lesnau with 48 yards, Watkins with 29 yards, Brayden Bumphus with 24 yards, and Eli Chatman with eight yards.
The Buffs will head to Bishop Kelley next week for Round 1 of the Class 5A Oklahoma High School Playoffs at 7 p.m.
McAlester’s Caden Lesnau
Hartshorne Miners vs. Liberty Tigers
The Miners won this close game over Liberty, 26-20, but it came down to the wire due to some questionable calls on both sides.
Payton’s Take: Quarterback Jackson Moody was the difference-maker this week for the Miners. He finished the game throwing 8/11 for 154 yards, the leading tackler with over 10 tackles and threw for a touchdown. Moody’s versatility was on full display as he effectively blocked for his running backs and tackled on defense, exhibiting the skills of a lineman despite his role as the quarterback. Hartshorne had to win this game to secure a home playoff game on Week 1, and Moody made sure that his team would come up the W. Acetin Rowell had over 100 yards rushing on the night and had 8 tackles, as well as some great breakaway catches and runs from Junior Gus Miller and Junior Kannen Osier. Senior Treyce Morgan also had a fumble recovery and Sophomore Malachi Sunagoowie was also impactful on the defensive side of the ball. Sunagoowie made an exceptional sack, but the game’s officials found themselves at the center of attention yet again after missing an earlier delay of game call. Despite the refereeing challenges, Rowell kept the run game alive late in the fourth quarter, and the Miners secured a hard-fought victory.
“As a senior, I wanted to play at least one more game at home,” Moody said. “This is it for me, it’s win or go home now. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure we don’t go home.”
The Miners will host the Pawnee Black Bears this Friday at home for Round 1 of the Class A Oklahoma High School Playoffs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Hartshorne’s Jackson Moody throws a pass – Hartshorne vs. Liberty – 11/3/2023 – Photo: Chris Bischoff
Wilburton Diggers vs. Spiro Bulldogs
The Diggers fell in this close game against the Bulldogs, 21-14.
Payton’s Take: Though not as successful of a season as Wilburton is used to, I feel great progress was made for the Diggers this fall. With a young team on his hands, Head Coach Troy Bullard has enjoyed coaching this season and has optimism for next year as well. Wilburton is done this season, but will continue building for the upcoming 2024 football season. Watch for this team next year; it will be a different story.
“Another close one, 21-14,” Bullard said. “Our kids played their tails off against a good Spiro team. So proud of our seniors and proud of this team. This bunch got better every week and never gave up. As a coach when you can say the team you are coaching improved on both sides of the ball, you have to be pleased with the season, regardless of the win-loss record.”
Troy Clark avoids a shoe-string tackle. Wilburton vs. Hartshorne 9/1/2023. Photo – Monica Brown
I am so excited to be covering SE Oklahoma, my home! If you have any information to share on your team or you would like to recommend specific school coverage in the Southeast Area, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If you’re interested in reading more content about high school sports in Southeast Oklahoma, check out Losses Plague the McAlester Area – What Happened on Week 6?