TIME TO PLAY FOR GOLD – Wagoner and Muskogee Reach State Championships

Last Updated: November 30, 20234.8 min read

Two teams in our area will be battling this week for state championships in Edmond as the 2023 football season draws to a close. Today we’ll take a look at those games, how they got there and some of the history involved.


Since they play first, we’ll take a look at the Wagoner Bulldogs Thursday night battle against Blanchard for the Class 4A title. A frequent flyer at the 4A title game, second-ranked Wagoner will be seeking back-to-back state championships while Blanchard will be looking for its first title since 2012. The Bulldogs have battled to a perfect 13-0 record this season with their only close battle being a 15-14 squeaker over Cushing which played Wagoner for the title last year. Wagoner coach Dale Condict has been in nine state title games in his illustrious coaching career and has won in his last six appearances dating back to 2011. The last time these two teams met was in 2017 in the quarterfinals when Blanchard beat Wagoner 23-14 breaking the Bulldogs then record setting 48 game win streak. The Lions are 12-1 on the season with their only loss coming to Class 5A Piedmont in the second game of the season. Blanchard defeated 4A’s Cinderella team Sallisaw in the opening round of the playoffs and then pulled off a mild upset last week defeating top ranked Poteau. The Bulldogs, who have won 21 in a row, breezed through the first three rounds with wins over Broken Bow, Tuttle and Ada by a combined score of 129-14. It’s been a record setting year for Wagoner with new single season records for passing yardage and receptions established by junior quarterback Kale Charboneau and senior wide receiver Witt Edwards and defensive prowess enforced by Alex Shieldnight totaling double digit sacks. The Lions are led by seniors Carson Cooksey who has passed for nearly 3000 yards this season and running back McHale Howell who has rushed for 830 yards. The weather may impact the success of both teams offensive productivity but DEFENSE wins championships.

Bill’s Pick:  WAGONER 28 BLANCHARD 14

Nick’s Pick:  WAGONER 44 BLANCHARD 24



The Muskogee Roughers will be seeking their first state football title since 1986 as they go against the defending Class 6A-II champion Stillwater Pioneers on Friday afternoon. The Roughers will be looking for payback after Stillwater beat them 30-20 in week 1 and beat them last year in the regular season finale as well. The Roughers feature junior quarterback Jamarian “Byrd” Ficklin who has passed for over 3000 yards this season and a senior-loaded supporting cast including Kayden “Big Play” McGee, a UNLV commit at wide receiver and by an aggressive defensive front anchored by Vernon Pepiakitah and Anthony Watson while linebackers Treyveon Houston and Tim Moore roam sideline to sideline. Stillwater is playing this year for the first time in several years without a guy named Gundy at quarterback, but senior Chance Acord has filled the bill well this year passing for 2354 yards passing accompanied by the strong running of Holden Thompson who has rushed for nearly 2000 yards. Both teams enter with 10-2 records with Muskogee’s losses coming to Stillwater and Class 5A powerhouse Carl Albert while the Pioneers losses have been to 6AI Yukon and perennial powerhouse Greenwood, Arkansas. The Pioneers are operating with a new head coach in Chad Cawood who took over from veteran coach Tucker Barnard this year. For Muskogee coach Travis Hill he’ll be seeking his second gold ball as a head coach having won the title at Tulsa East Central in 2005 and as defensive coordinator at Broken Arrow when they won in 2018.

“I’ve always looked at being in the title game whether as a head coach or assistant as being all about the kids,” said Hill emotionally. “Sure, I’ve got some ego and I like rings, but the gold ball for me in this is watching the kids win. You could give me some dope and that wouldn’t get me as high as watching the kids win it all. It creates a special bond that lasts long after the coach and the players part ways.”

Both teams nearly didn’t make it past last week’s semifinals. Muskogee had to survive two turnovers and a blocked field goal on offense and then make a huge goal line stand against Deer Creek in the final seconds on a two-point conversion try that began inside the one-yard thanks to two encroachment penalties. Then the Antlers executed a perfect on-sides kick and recovered it but were ruled to have touched the ball just inches before it traveled the minimum 10 yards and the Roughers dodged a bullet. Stillwater was clinging to a four-point lead in the closing seconds of their semifinal game with Choctaw as the Yellowjackets drove to the Pioneer one-yard line but had time run out on them and Stillwater breathed a sigh of relief.

Last week Muskogee broke a six-game losing streak in semifinal games that dated back to 1994 so the pot is boiling over with anticipation as the Roughers try to break a 37-year championship drought.

“I think it helps us in preparation being familiar with Stillwater and this time we’ll have (Ondraye) Beasley back who was out on concussion protocol when we played them earlier,” said Hill. “For us to win we must eliminate those mistakes we made and not let the moment get too big for us. It’s usually the team that blocks, tackles and takes care of the ball the best that wins these kinds of games.”

Bill’s Pick:  MUSKOGEE 35  STILLWATER 24

Nick’s Pick:  MUSKOGEE 33  STILLWATER  28

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