The 2023 season kicks off this week with some teams getting underway in zero week games while others take another week to scrimmage. VYPE Plus Muskogee Area editors Nick Hampton and Bill Huddleston offer a preview of the Friday night action along with their predictions on the final score. See if you agree on the crystal ball predictions.
ENID AT MUSKOGEE
This is a game that at first glance the Roughers should win handily. But in football sometimes looks can lead to a trap if the favorite gets complacent. The 6A-I Plainsmen will feature a new coach in Cameron Conder who will install a new spread, up tempo look for Enid which returns just three starters on offense but that does include talented quarterback Aidan Robinson. Muskogee, a step down in Class 6A-II, returns most of an explosive offense that averaged over 40 points a game last year led by quarterback Jamarian “Byrd” Ficklin but has a defense with some questions to answer in this season opener according to head coach Travis Hill. “Absolutely we have questions still to be answered about ourselves. First thing is to be able to handle the obstacles like the heat and play hard on every down, mentally and physically.” The Roughers struggled to a 28-26 win last year but as long as they don’t read their own press clippings too much, they should prevail in this one playing at home.
Nick’s Pick – Muskogee 38 Enid 6
Bill’s Choice – Muskogee 31 Enid 12
BISHOP KELLEY AT POTEAU
An intriguing zero week matchup of two teams that are being mentioned among the preseason hype to contend for gold ball in their respective classes as the Class 5A Comets make the journey to Costner Stadium to take on the Class 4A Pirates. Meeting in the season opener the past three seasons, the Comets will try to beat the Pirates for the first time since 2020. This game will be decided by who wins the line of scrimmage battle.
Coach Greg Werner’s front line is small but strong and understand the Pirates wing-T scheme that will once again feature VYPE Top 100 and Tulsa Golden Hurricane commit Dax Collins, Jackson Sommers and Luke Brooks while defensively there’s proven talent at most positions. Bishop Kelley’s Sam Rhoades is just one of the returning starters that empower the Comets defense that is stingy in yards allowed while coach J.J. Tappana’s offense will control the tempo of the game. Should be a physical war between these two squads on the turf in Poteau. But in the end, Pirates prevail #WETSU
Nick’s Pick – Poteau 27 Bishop Kelley
Bill’s Choice – Poteau 20 Bishop Kelley 14
FORT GIBSON AT OOLOGAH
The Tigers are young with freshman Logan Bethel slotted to be at quarterback surrounded by juniors Judd Rudd and Brelyn Macomb at running back. The Tigers will feature some bulk up front with a pair of 280-pound linemen in Stevie Vafeas and Jake Spencer along with senior Ryan Capps. In a recent scrimmage Bethel was on target with a lot of his passes only to have them dropped and the Tigers had far too many penalties, showing their inexperience. Oologah returns standout running back Ashton Wright while the athletic Brad Hoisington will move from wide receiver to quarterback for the Mustangs. Always tough to open on the road, the Tigers will need to execute much better on both sides of the ball to pull out a W here.
Nick’s Pick – Oologah 24 Fort Gibson 12
Bill’s Choice – Oologah 28 Fort Gibson 13
VIAN AT WASHINGTON
With both of these teams ranked in the preseason top 10 in Class 2A, this game promises to be exciting. The Wolverines are looking for an answer at quarterback to replace the graduated Diego Ramos and will probably open with Riley Ellis (pictured above) calling the signals as they work talented VYPE TOP 100 sophomore Masyn Wright into that spot. Going up against the defending state champ and the top pick in 2A preseason will be no easy task according to Vian head coach Gary Willis.
“They’ve got two D-1 prospect tight ends Nate Roberts (pictured above) and Cooper Alexander) that stand 6-4 and will be tough to contain. They’ve got a great athletic program at Washington where they’ve been to the state championship for several years in football, are the current state champs in baseball and won basketball a couple of years ago.” Roberts and Alexander are joined on offense by returning quarterback Major Cantrell. With Vian still looking for some answers and Washington loaded with 16 returning seniors, this game may be tough going for Vian.
Nick’s Pick – Washington 32 Vian 19
Bill’s Pick – Washington 38 Vian 12
Other games to be played in this opening week include a pair of Thursday contests with Midway at Cave Spring and Pocola at Heavener. On Friday, the night lights will shine on Webbers Falls at Keota, Hulbert at Kansas, Wilburton at Gore, Stigler at Sallisaw, and East Central at Checotah.