Here are the scores of this weekend's high school football matchups as the playoffs continue across Oklahoma:
Thursday, Dec. 19
Class 3A Championship
Kingfisher 30, Blanchard 23
Class 2A Championship
Davis 36, Millwod 32
Class A Championship
Hollis 29, Ringing 12
***The OSSAA upheld its ruling of ineligibility on a Ringling player when Ringling withdrew its appeal on Wednesday. The Blue Devils will still be allowed to compete in the Class A state championship.
Thursday, Dec. 12
Class 6A Championship
Jenks 38, Union 22
Friday, Dec. 13
Class 3A Semifinals
Blanchard 20, Plainview 17
Kingfisher 32, Seminole 14
Class 2A Semifinals
Davis 56, Vian 39
Millwood 24, Hartshorne 9
Class A Semifinals
Ringling 26, Talihina 18
Hollis 25, Apache 0
Saturday, Dec. 14
Class 4A Championship
Anadarko 40, Poteau 0
Class B Championship
Laverne 42, Pond Creek-Hunter 12
Class 5A Championship
Guthrie 51, McAlester 21
Class C Championship
Cherokee 38, Tipton 14
Guthrie Defense Shines As Bluejays Beat McAlester For 5A Championship
By Luke McConnell
Kai Callins smiled as he sprinted down the field at Boone Pickens Stadium to join his teammates for a group picture. The gold ball the Guthrie Bluejays had just captured with a 51-21 win over McAlester in the 5A state championship game was waiting for him on the front row.
At the same time, at the other end of the field, McAlester coach Bryan Pratt and his son—senior wide receiver Caden—were locked in a tearful embrace as heartfelt words, words that should always remain between a father and a son were exchanged.
The two scenes painted a perfect picture of high school athletics. One young man feeling like he was on top of the world; the other feeling like the end had come. Time and life experience will bring perspective, but for one night in Stillwater, the 5A state championship was all that mattered.
Callins literally put the team on his back, finishing a dream comeback season with a 23 carry, 230-yard performance and four touchdowns. Callins lost all but a single half of his junior year to a knee injury and anything less than going out on top was not an option for the senior this season.
"I remember my brother at Booker T. Washington went down in the second round his senior year," Callins said. "Ever since that, I've had it in the back of my head that I do not want that feeling. I saw the way he was crying and the way he looked and I didn't like it one bit."
Callins even had an interception on defense, which snuffed out a long McAlester drive and atoned for an interception he threw in the end zone near the end of the first half.
Overall, the Guthrie defense completely stifled a McAlester offense that came into the game averaging 52.8 points per game. The Bluejays held the Buffaloes to 300 total yards and shut them out in the critical fourth quarter after McAlester had drawn to within 30-21 with 2:37 remaining in the third quarter on a 40-yard Jarome Smith (15 carries, 97 yards) touchdown run.
"Stop their run game," Callins said about the key to Guthrie's success. "They have a very impressive running back and a quarterback that's going to return next year and wreck havoc. Just to slow down their run game really gave us a boost."
While Callins was the hero, quarterback Reed Roberts and wide receiver L'Liott Curry played the roles of best supporting actors. The two hooked up five times in the first half for 130 yards, including a 41-yard Hail Mary as time expired in the first half.
The shocking touchdown came just moments after McAlester had turned Callins' interception into a touchdown to trim the Bluejays' lead to just two at 16-14. Guthrie's Zonte Veasley had a 32-yard return on the ensuing kickoff to put Guthrie in a position to have a shot at the end zone. The score crushed the psyche of the Buffaloes and turned the momentum squarely in favor of Guthrie as the teams went to the locker room with a 23-14 lead.
"He carried us in the first half and made some huge catches," Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins said of Curry's first half. "The one right before the half to steal back momentum was tremendous."
With a nine-point lead and Callins and Idae Alexander (65 rushing yards, two touchdowns) carrying the football, Guthrie didn't throw a single pass in the second half. The defense, tired of hearing for two weeks how explosive the McAlester offense was, made that lead stand up and allowed the offense to nearly double the Buffaloes in time of possession.
"We're proud of our defense and we always talk about how defense wins championships," Watkins said. "All we'd heard all along, was how great (McAlester's offense was)—and it is. McAlester's offense was the best we'd seen in years. But we're pretty proud of our defense, too."
The defense prevented the Buffaloes from making any sort of comeback and Callins was there to put the final nail in McAlester's coffin. On 3rd and two from the Guthrie 14-yard line, Callins took the handoff, swept to the left, planted, and sprinted into the wide-open space in front of him. He had to cut back at the McAlester 20-yard line before diving into the end zone for an 86-yard jaunt and a 44-21 Guthrie lead with 7:36 to play.
"First off, he's a great leader for us and a great teammate because he's so special in what he can do because he played running back, receiver and quarterback tonight and then had the interception," Watkins said about Callins after the game. "He's a pretty special athlete. They don't come along too often like him and he sure made the difference for our team tonight."
This was a complete team win for Guthrie, but it was especially meaningful for Callins given what he experienced a year ago. He hasn't been very heavily recruited, so his future in football is up in the air. But while closing this particular chapter of his career, he made sure he finished on top.
Anadarko Defense Smothers Poteau In Title Game Rout
By Luke McConnell
Anadarko felt the bitter sting of defeat last season when they fell to Clinton in the 4A state championship game. A year later, they avenged that loss in emphatic fashion.
The Warriors scored three touchdowns in less than two minutes at the end of the first quarter and used that blitz to rout Poteau, 40-0, Saturday afternoon in Stillwater.
With the win, Anadarko clinched its second state title in school history, and the second in the past three seasons.
All season, the story for Anadarko has been about an explosive offense, but on Saturday, it was all about a defense that held the Pirates to just 39 total yards for the game.
The defense was put to the test right out of the gate as Poteau had two golden opportunities to put points on the board in the first quarter. After a high snap on an Anadarko punt, Poteau got the ball at the Anadarko 22-yard line, but was unable to convert a first down.
Poteau forced a punt and got the ball at the Warriors' 7-yard line after a 27-yard return from Kendrick Hardaway and a late hit penalty on Anadarko. However, the Warriors' defense held fast, as Poteau's Kaydon Evans fumbled inside the 5-yard line and Mykel Shaw recovered at the 1-yard line.
"I think they really set the tone when we held them out those two times," Anadarko coach Kent Jackson said. "It really made a big difference because we could've been down 14-0 and instead, it was 0-0. It gave our offense a chance to get on track."
The Warriors marched 99 yards in 3:32 to score a touchdown on an R.J. Sink two-yard sweep. On the next play for Poteau, Shaw intercepted a tipped pass and scampered 32 yards for a touchdown. Three plays later, Malik Boardingham sacked Poteau quarterback Jace Pitchford and forced a fumble that Traymayne Wauahdooah fell on in the end zone for another Anadarko score.
The defensive scores took the air right out of the Poteau team and their fans while igniting the purple and gold contingent on the Anadarko side.
Pitchford was injured on the Pirates' first possession of the game and was never the same after that. The valiant competitor tried to continue to play, but the injury hampered the Pirates' offense considerably, allowing Anadarko to stack the box against running back Roger Barcheers, who finished with just 38 rushing yards on 19 carries.
"Our defense has been improving all season," Boardingham said. "We came out here and did our best and just played our game."
Boardingham in particular had a monster game for the Warriors, racking up 12 tackles and two big sacks. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one of them.
"Coach Jackson had widened me up and I had to set the edge as the pass rusher because I'm faster than all the players I go against," Boardingham explained.
The Anadarko offense wasn't its usual explosive self, but it didn't have to be thanks to the dominating performance from the defense. Sink finished with just 65 yards on the ground and quarterback Brandon Pollard was 6-of-9 passing for 133 yards and two scores while rushing for 49 yards and a score himself.
The Anadarko players said after the game they had been playing mad all season thanks to the disappointment they suffered in this game a year ago. The desire for redemption fueled the team from start to finish this year.
"I think that's an accurate description," Jackson said. "I think we have been. I told them, life's not always full of second chances. There are very few times you can come back and do this and they were able to do it."
Winter weather last weekend delayed this game a week and while Jackson said he wasn't a fan of the change because of how it disrupted his team's weekly routine, Boardingham said he was grateful for the extra week of preparation.
"It helped us a lot," Boardingham said. "They have so many formations, it was difficult. We got it done."
Anadarko got it done, all right. The Warriors dominating defense left no doubt about how this game would end.
Anadarko came in angry and seeking redemption. They left the anger lying on the field and took home a gold ball in its place.
Blanchard Tops Plainview In Comeback Effort
By Luke McConnell
The Blanchard Lions haven't had to face a lot of adversity in their undefeated run this season. After all, the Lions came into Friday night's 3A semifinal bout with Plainview having won every game but one by at least 14 points.
So when Plainview turned a 14-3 deficit into a 17-14 lead in just under eight minutes of game time in the fourth quarter, it was a bit of unfamiliar territory.
Blanchard acted like they had been there many times before. The Lions drove 71 yards in 12 plays, capped by a Braden Stringer 1-yard touchdown plunge with 39 seconds remaining to defeat Plainview, 20-17 at Moore High School Stadium.
The Indians had stymied Stringer to that point in the second half, limiting the dynamic running back to just 12 yards in the second half before that drive.
"I thought they were really attacking our front guys," Blanchard coach Jeff Craig said about what the Indians were doing to take Stringer out of the game. "We really weren't doing a good job. We were allowing too much penetration on the outside stuff and they were really kind of running hard off the edge."
Instead, it was senior quarterback Blake Owen who put the team on his shoulders on the final drive. Owen rushed for 17 yards and connected on all three of his passes for 37 yards before allowing Stringer to carry the load the rest of the way for the go-ahead score.
"It was really positive," Owen said about the demeanor in the huddle. "Everyone who got the ball was going to make a play with it. I could see it in their eyes."
Stringer finished the game with 29 carries for 148 yards and all three Blanchard touchdowns.
Owen had been inconsistent at best in the first half, missing all seven of his passes and had a costly fumble that cost the Lions a chance to score midway through the second quarter. His teammates were able to give him a lift in the locker room at halftime.
"Blake stays pretty positive," Stringer said. "We talked to him and said keep your composure, we're winning. There's no reason to be down if we do what we do. He just picked right up and came in the second half and made some big plays."
After the half, Owen was on fire, hitting 6-of-7 passes for 129 yards and adding 26 yards rushing. He finished the game with 66 yards rushing on 16 carries.
"Blake does some good things for us," Craig said. "He's a good counter-punch for Braden when everyone really hones in on Braden. Blake can find some spots and some ways to make some yardage and move the sticks."
The Lions jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Stringer went wide around the right side of the offensive line on fourth down for an 18-yard touchdown. Turnovers and stubbornness from both teams to punt the football defined the rest of the first half, as both teams' defenses stood up strong.
Plainview finally broke through late in the third quarter with a 33-yard field goal from Trey Tully, but Stringer took a swing pass from Owen on the next Blanchard possession and rumbled 17 yards for his second touchdown of the game to put the Lions up 14-3 with 10:14 remaining.
With the way the game had gone so far, that lead looked to be more than enough for the Lions to advance to the state title game.
The Indians wouldn't go quietly.
Quarterback Taber Jordan began carving up the Lions' defense through the air, while running back Austin Carrera pounded away on the ground. Carrera finished the game with 116 yards on the ground, but needed 32 carries to do it. The Indians marched down the field and drew within 14-9 on a 1-yard plunge from Jordan. The two-point conversion failed.
After a short Blanchard punt, Jordan scored again from four yards out and then Carrera swept around the right side for the two-point conversion and a 17-14 lead with 2:33 remaining. The drive was punctuated by a 33-yard rush up the middle for Jordan.
The Lions never wavered on the sidelines. With a roster boasting 17 seniors, there was no reason to panic, especially with Owen and Stringer leading the charge.
"We all stayed confident on the sideline," Stringer said. "We didn't think about the worst, we just stayed confident. In the huddle, we said, ‘Let's go punch this thing in.' No one ever thought we weren't (going to)."
The Lions did just that and move on to face Kingfisher—which defeated Seminole Friday night—in the state championship game next week. It's a rematch of the 2012 state title game, which the Lions won. If the game comes down to crunch time—which it most certainly may—Blanchard can no longer say they don't have experience in that scenario.
"We've got a lot of heart," Owen said. "We may get stopped a couple of times, but we're going to pull through."
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