Another year, another season that ended in the semifinals for the MacArthur Highlanders. The program made its 16th trip to the football semifinals last week, but saw its record fall to 6-10 in those games. Still, the 2013 Highlanders reached a game not many around the state thought they could get to. They were a team that started slow at 2-2 with what appeared to be a devastating district loss to Del City in Week 4, and several injuries to key players: senior linebackers Javi Laboy (torn ACL), Madison Phillips (missed some games), junior defensive lineman Jackson Taito (torn ACL) and corner back Lorenzo West (missed games). Despite all that, the proud Highlanders were able to turn their season around and win eight straight games before falling to McAlester. Their final record was 10-3. "I don't think people realize that we were 2-2 and a really fragile team. We're not used to losing games and losing two out of four was not the start we wanted," MacArthur head coach Brett Manning said. "Our defensive leader (Laboy) blew his ACL. Another defensive starter blew his ACL. We weren't playing well offensively and had some other struggles. We were in a pretty bad place after Del City. The coaches did a great job of keeping the players going and the players did a great job of responding to that.
If an art or trick to successful two-point conversions exists, Tipton's own Jim Kerbo says he hasn't found it. Through more than 200 wins and many years coaching eight-man football, where the conversions are most relevant, the Tigers head coach said the approach is pretty simple. "There's no secret to it," Kerbo said, "You just have to execute." On the wings of a perfectly executed two-point conversion Saturday, Class C No. 1 Tipton won a wild, double-overtime state semifinal over No. 3 Sharon-Mutual. Tipton quarterback Gerald White found Tanner Knight all alone in the end zone to give the Tigers a pair of points and a 42-40 win. A lot was on the line. Hanging in the balance was Tipton's season, the chance to defend its 2012 state title, make its third consecutive trip to the state finals and beat Sharon-Mutual for the third straight year in the semifinals (regretfully, I incorrectly referenced the latter in last Friday's column). It all hinged on a short play from from the 3-yard line worth two points, one Kerbo and Co. thought about using on their touchdown in the second overtime. The Tigers had been running jet sweeps all night and noticed a backside cornerback was coming hard off the edge, leaving receivers open. And just one play earlier, Bryant Flores tied the game at 40-40 on a jet sweep.
No. 5 boys use treys to fuel big run; Smith gets 23 as girls roll
The first game of a new basketball season can sometimes be a slow, plodding affair with lots of missed shots, turnovers and fouls.
Someone forgot to tell Eisenhower that as both the boys and the girls ripped Wichita Falls-Hirschi in Aggie Gym. The boys opened on a big run and coasted to a 70-49 win. The girls had very little trouble in a 71-45 win.
The Eagles carry their 1-0 records to the Midwestern Tournament in Wichita Falls on Dec. 7.
Boys The Class 6A No. 5 Eisenhower boys opened their game on a breathtaking 15-1 run highlighted by three straight 3-pointers, two from Dominique Pierre and one from Jamey Woods.
Hirschi was shell-shocked and never really got up off the floor the rest of the way as Ike owned a 24-6 lead after the first quarter.
Then some complacency set in according to head coach Bruce Harrington.
"I thought it was a typical Night 1. I thought we started off well shooting the ball, but then we got sloppy," Harrington said. "But they played hard and everyone got involved. A lot of times when you get an early lead like that, they sort of let up and get sloppy. It's hard to tell kids to keep playing with intensity, but I was pleased with the first game."
The Eagles started to get a little careless with the ball and settling for jump shots instead of working the ball down inside. The Huskies took advantage of the situation outscoring Ike 19-16 in the second quarter.
Ike found its shooting stroke in the second half burying five more triples including three from junior Bentley Bross. All told Ike hit 10 triples in the game.
The Lawton High Wolverines hoped they'd be prepping for a Class 6A semifinal game with the Jenks Trojans this week.
Instead, they turned in equipment. It's a sobering reality every football team will face at some point this season, but it came two weeks sooner than the Wolverinnes wanted after a 28-15 quarterfinal loss to Westmoore Saturday.
"One thing about athletics, it teaches you a lot of life lessons,"Lawton High head coach Randy Breeze said. "One of those life lessons is how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. We don't like the gracious in defeat part as much, but we have to do that now."
The loss to Jaguars, the Wolverines first and only defeat of the season, was a disappointing end to an otherwise spectacular campaign for LHS. The Wolverines finished off the 11th unbeaten regular season in school history, won a district title, trounced rivals MacArthur and Eisenhower, averaged 45 points per game and limited five opponents to less than 21 points.
It was a banner year individually, too. Senior running back Mike Warren set school-best marks in rushing yards in a single season, (2,356) all-purpose yards (2,597) and scored a team-leading 27 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Dallas Sealey's strong arm wasn't a big key in Lawton's run-heavy offense, but his play was. Sealey finished the season with 17 passing touchdowns and no interceptions while leading a powerful LHS offense that was held under 28 points just once.
Still, Lawton High wanted more. "We set our goals really lofty and that's where we want them," LHS head coach Randy Breeze said. "We almost reached them this season. It didn't turn out the way we wanted it to."
After a final meeting with 23 LHS seniors Tuesday afternoon, Breeze took out his depth chart and began plotting out how he'll try to replace standouts like Warren, Sealey and dominating defensive lineman Ivan Thomas next season.
OKLAHOMA CITY The Lawton High girls are already halfway to their win total from last season. The Wolverines (2-0) downed Class 2A No. 3 Northeast (0-1) and University of Oklahoma signee LaNesia Williams 47-40 Tuesday in the Carl Albert Festival in Oklahoma City.
In the second half of the doubleheader, the Lawton High boys lost a double-overtime thriller to the Vikings, 54-49, almost pulling out the win thanks to a great team effort including gutsy efforts from four football players who have yet to practice with the team.
Girls After a four-win season in 2012, the Lawton High girls planned on having a better 2013 campaign.
So far, so good. LHS got 16 points from Bailee Cox and beat Class 2A No. 3 Northeast Academy 47-40 in Oklahoma City.
"It's a good win for us," LHS head coach Marco Gagliardi said. "These girls aren't really used to winning and in the off season we really tried to change that. We like what we've seen so far."
The Wolverines faced University of Oklahoma signee LaNesia Williams, and despite Williams' 25 points, Gagliardi said his team's effort against her and the Vikings' athletic offense was solid.
"She's a monster, she is just really tough to guard," he said of Williams. "When you're recruited by OU, you know you can play. But when we went into our box-and-one in the second half it really seemed to confuse them and slow her and them down a little bit."
With the Wolverines leading by one, 31-30, after the third quarter, Lawton High's deep bench took over and helped LHS outscore the Vikings 16-10 in the final quarter.
Game Time Coming off a week in which MacArthur had an abnormal game time, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., the No. 5 Highlanders are back on a normal schedule with this week's Class 5A semifinal game being played at Choctaw on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against No. 2 McAlester. "The OSSAA handles all of that," MacArthur head coach Brett Manning said. "They take our suggestions, but (LPS athletic director) Mike Moore took care of most of it. The OSSAA listens, but they tell you when and where you're playing." Choctaw high school recently renovated its stadium and gives both the Highlanders and Buffaloes a nice track to play on. "They've done a lot of upgrades and now it's a really nice place," Manning said. "We've never played there before so I'm looking forward to it."
Nearly everyone got in on the act Monday as Cameron University used its quickness and depth to dispatch Hillsdale Free Will Baptist of Moore, 93-48, in the Aggie Gym. The win is the fourth straight for Coach Tom Webb's Aggies, matching the start established by the 2002 squad. That team played in the NCAA Division 2 Regional tournament. Four CU players scored in double figures Monday. Of the 12 players Webb employed, 11 scored. Junior transfer Jazzmine Robinson led the way with 19 points, senior Ali Brown came off the bench to net 16, senior Chelsea Stamp had 12 on four 3-point goals and senior Lacy Reinke added 11. Sophomore Markita Zeigler came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds and lead the Ags to a 42-36 advantage. Nineteen boards came on the offensive end and set up 31 second-chance points.
"So long, I'm goin'… goin' home." When Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach penned those song lyrics in 2009, he probably wasn't thinking about a high school football team from southwest Oklahoma. Four years after Auerbach's first solo-album release, the words apply nonetheless. Apache last hosted a playoff game in '09 and is going home Friday to do so again. The Warriors (10-2) upset Class A No. 8 Minco, 38-14, in Round 2 and will welcome Afton to Chandler Field at 7:30 p.m.. For the first time this season, the Warriors won't have to travel for a marquee game. Apache's biggest district showdowns came in hostile territory against then-No. 1 Thomas, No. 3 Hollis, and its playoff tilts were staged at Fairview and Minco. Each time, the Warrior faithful showed up in carloads. They waited out a thunderstorm and a 10:30 p.m. kickoff at Thomas, then stayed until the game ended after midnight. "Our fans deserve it," Apache head coach Larry McDaniel said of Friday's home game, which marks his team's first state quarterfinal appearance since 2000. "(At Fairview) I think we had twice as many fans as they did and (Saturday at Minco) was the same way. Everyone wants to be involved and help keep this thing going."
The Cameron women are looking to do something tonight they have not done in 12 years start the season 4-0. They get the chance at home in front of the Cameron faithful when they take on Hillsdae Free Will Baptisy at 6 p.m. Cameron reached 3-0 for the first time since 2002 when they beat Barclay College, 99-37, with a program-high 62 first-half points. Five different players scored in double figures, including Christina Caddy with 12 to lead the Aggies. Hillsdale comes into Aggie Gym 2-4 and will possibly be tired coming into tonight's battle as the Saints competed in the Valley Forge Classic over the weekend. The Aggies will likely send out Jazzmine Robinson, Christina Caddy, Lacy Reinke, Brittany Harris and Chelsea Stamp as the starting five with Ali Brown being the first off the bench. Looking at the Lone Star Conference standings, the Aggies are atop the league, with only West Texas A&M also undefeated. The Aggies begin conference play on Jan. 8 against Eastern New Mexico.
Highlanders working out kinks in offense on eve of key contest
MacArthur enters tonight's Class 5A quarterfinal game against Pryor looking to get its offense on track. The last couple of weeks, the Highlanders left plays on the field against Ardmore and Deer Creek. Luckily for them, they still won both of those games and their goal of a state title remains alive.
Provided they win today at 5:30 p.m. at Cameron Stadium.
The No. 9 Tigers (8-3) bring the offense that has given the No. 5 Highlanders (9-2) fits all season: the option. Specifically, Pryor rolls out the quarterback run game. Del City, Duncan, Chickasha, Eisenhower and Ardmore all had success when their quarterbacks ran the football this season against Mac.
"(Pryor's offense) is similar to Ardmore, that's the best comparison," MacArthur head coach Brett Manning said. "They're really heavy on quarterback runs. He's the guy. That's who they want to run the ball. It's a good offense. They run the veer out of the shotgun. It doesn't hit as quick as Ardmore's, but it's something we haven't seen very many people stop. They go on long drives; eight, nine, sometimes 12 plays per drive just because they get three yards per play."
That quarterback, Brennon Barth, is having a banner season. He's rushed for 1,734 yards and 35 TD's, including 11 in his last two games. Those numbers stand in stark contrast to his passing numbers which are a meager 47 for 79 for 583 yards with 4 touchdowns and four interceptions.
If Mac can slow down Barth, his running mate Matt McGouldrick is just as capable a rusher. He's carried 196 times for 1,079 yards and scored five touchdowns.
In order to combat the option, MacArthur is going to revert back to what it was doing on defense against Altus and Ardmore: putting strong safety Davontre Young in more of a linebacker position.
"Their formations and offense forces us to put somebody down there closer to the line and try to clog those gaps," Manning said. "We're going to have to play tough. Pryor is a tough, physical team that runs right at you. We have to be tougher than they are."
The one thing Mac's defense has going for it was limiting Ardmore's quarterback to 86 yards on 17 carries, but just three of those carries went for more than 10 yards.
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