Last week, I said it might be a short stay in the Playoff Land for local teams.
And sure enough, the number of teams has been reduced from 14 to five in just one weekend, even if not all the games played out the way we predicted.
That’s part of the maddening magic of the playoffs: one loss, and it’s time to say goodnight. It’s not always fair. Just ask Marlow, who came back from a 14-point touchdown in the fourth quarter to push their first-round game against Kingfisher into overtime, but had to play the extra periods without star running back Chase Knight. The Outlaws lost in triple overtime, 45-42.
The playoffs are also great (or brutally stressful, depending on point of view) because the more you win, the tougher the tests become. And that is certainly true this week. Each of the 10 teams in the five games involving area teams was either ranked in the final AP poll or was at least receiving votes. Each game has its own points of intrigue and if it were up to me, I would be at each of them. But until we properly figure out human cloning or time travel, I suppose I’ll just have to settle for one game.
A prime example is the second-round clash in Class 4A between Cache and Poteau, a game I would almost certainly be at if it wasn’t practically in Arkansas. First of all, congrats to Faron Griffin and the Cache Bulldogs on winning the school’s first playoff game in 36 years. Of course, there’s not much time to celebrate, as the Bulldogs now have to travel more than four hours to face the No. 2 team in the state.
Interestingly, Poteau’s offensive scheme is quite similar to Cache’s, running plenty of end-around counter plays before opening things up with their speed. The Pirates are a tough squad, especially if do-it-all quarterback Easton Francis is healthy. This is almost certainly the best team Cache has faced this year. And that’s why, after a great season, I think Cache’s season ends, POTEAU 31, Cache 21.
TIPTON 45, Sasakwa 38: Tipton fans breathed two heavy sighs of relief Friday: one after surviving Sharon-Mutual 52-50, and another after seeing fifth-ranked Coyle got upset by Sasakwa. Not that the Vikings are a pushover, but it’s probably a better matchup for Tipton. After starting the season 0-3, can the Tigers make another deep playoff run?
RINGLING 23, Frederick 10: Both these teams like to swarm on defense and ground-and-pound you into submission on offense. I just think Ringling’s a little bit better at that game than Frederick.
MANGUM 46, Dibble 31: I think Dibble gives Mangum a scare early, but I think the Tigers shake it off to win.
CHEROKEE 42, Snyder 24: I was very impressed with Snyder’s emphatic win over Wilson. But Cherokee has been playing stellar football lately. I think this is where the road ends for the Cyclones.
Last week: 11-3
Season record: 129-34