– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
It’s crazy to believe but we’re at the halfway point of the 2016 regular season. In another five weeks, we’ll be looking at playoff brackets and previewing the postseason. We’ve learned a lot after five weeks, however, with only two district games played for most teams, we still have a lot to find out. We take a look back at the first half of the season. With surprising starts, slow starts and looking ahead to the second half. Plus we take a look at some quarterbacks on the rise and who the midseason player of the year is.
All three of the following teams have jumped out to 5-0 starts. And all three of these teams have been absolutely dominant in their first five weeks. While it might not be a surprise to these three communities, the 5-0 start and the dominance has opened up eyes all across the state.
Hilldale has been a solid program the last few years but they were making the jump up to 4A, which brings new challenges. However, the Hornets haven’t been challenged yet. They’re averaging over 50 points per game and are allowing just a little over 13 points per game. Their closest win was a 49-20 win over Beggs in week three. We’ll know a lot more about Hilldale next week when they square off with undefeated Metro Christian in Tulsa.
Norman North (5-0)
Norman North has been smoking teams this year and none of their games have been close, with the exception of early in the first quarter in each. The Timberwolves have been nearly unstoppable on offense with the emergence of quarterback Brandon Marquardt. We’ll have more on him later. The only other 6A-D1 team to score more points this year than Norman North is Jenks with four more points. And the Trojans have played one more game
Wyandotte doesn’t get brought up in the conversation of 2A contenders, but that’s not the case this year. Wyandotte, like the other two teams have been absolutely dominant this year. Their defense has been lights out, only allowing 13 points all year, and having three shutouts so far this year. No other 11-man team has given up less points than Wyandotte. They get their biggest test when they host #1 Adair on Friday.
For these three teams, they came into the 2016 season with high hopes and the first half of the season ended up being a nightmare. All three will try to turn it around and punch their ticket to the playoffs but they have a lot of work ahead of them to make that happen.
Out of the three teams on this list, Guthrie is the most likely to salvage their season and make the playoffs. From there, they could end up being a dangerous team, depending on who they draw in the first round. The Blue Jays have played their two most difficult district games with back to back losses to Carl Albert and Bishop McGuinness. However, you can’t forget about that stunning loss to Ponca City. Nobody saw that coming
Owasso came into this year with high hopes. With D1 talent on the defensive side of the ball and their starting quarterback returning, the Rams were feeling good. They missed out of the playoffs in 2015 for the first time in a long time and they’re in danger of missing the playoffs again. With games against Norman North and Southmoore still on the schedule, the Rams have their work cut out for them to make the playoffs.
It wasn’t going to be easy for Stratford as they moved from Class A up to 2A. However, who knew it would be this rough for them. Stratford had a perfect 15-0 season and won the state championship a season ago. Now they’re 2-4 and things don’t get easier as they square off with 2A perennial powerhouse Davis this week. Stratford could very well make the playoffs but they’re a long way from where they were a season ago when they were dominating everyone in Class A.
Quarterbacks On The Rise
Coming into this season, programs all over the state were having to replace marquee quarterbacks who put up historical numbers. For these three teams, they’ve found quarterbacks who have emerged as some of the best in the state.
Brandon Marquardt – Norman North
Norman North has had a great run of quarterbacks that have been in this program for years now. The next man up is Brandon Marquardt. The Norman North quarterback has been nearly perfect this season in this Norman North offense that has been lighting up teams this year. Marquardt has thrown for over 1,800 yards and 20 touchdowns with only 1 interception. He’s completed an eye-opening 75% of his passes.
Dylan Bierman – Metro Christian
Metro Christian is another program that has had a lot of luck in the quarterback department with several solid signal callers for the last decade. Dylan Bierman has been as good as any of the previous Patriot passers. Bierman has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. Bierman has yet to throw an interception after the first half of the season.
Ian Corwin – Jenks
It’s not easy to replace the greatest quarterback in school history. Let alone replacing the greatest quarterback at a school like Jenks. However, sophomore quarterback Ian Corwin has emerged to possibly be the next great “number 9” under center at Jenks. Corwin has led Jenks to a 6-0 start and has thrown for over 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions.
Midseason Player Of The Year
Brandon George – Quarterback – Jones
He was a Player Of The Year candidate a year ago and he’s been following up his junior season with an even better senior campaign. Jones came into the season as the #1 team in 3A and has backed it up with a 6-0 start, and they’ve been blowing teams out. George has been lights out as well. He’s thrown for nearly 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 72% of his passes. On the ground, George has run for 568 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s on pace to put up some ridiculous numbers by the end of the year. If his team remains on top of 3A and he continues to have the production he’s had so far, he might be a lock for the award in December.
Alright, now that we’ve taken a look at some of the bigger storylines to come out of the first half of the season, it’s time to look forward. We look at five of the best storylines to follow in the second half of the season.
Who Emerges In 6A-D1-2?
In a span of three weeks, we’re going to have this answer. Norman North, Southmoore and Union have all emerged as the top teams in district two and they all play each other over the next three weeks. Norman North travels to Southmoore this week before hosting Union next week. The week after traveling to Norman North, the Redskins will return on a short week to face Southmoore on the road.
How Does Muskogee Handle Success?
This question is going to be answered by the end of the week. Muskogee has been chasing the #1 ranking and now they’re on top of 6A-D2 after knocking off Bixby in an instant classic last week. The Roughers now hit the road and they travel to Tulsa to face #2 Booker T Washington. So how do the Roughers handle success and now being chased by 6A-D2 instead of chasing. We’ll get the first idea after Friday’s 1 vs 2 showdown.
Will The Westside Dominate 5A?
You look at the 5A rankings right now and the westside owns the class. The top four teams are all on the westside and five of the top seven are westside teams. Lawton Mac, Carl Albert, Altus and Bishop McGuinness are your top four teams. Coincidentally, Carl Albert and McGuinness play Thursday and Altus plays #7 Ardmore. So the rankings will sort themselves out. However, it looks like the state title will probably be staying west this year.
Anybody Other Than Wagoner Or Oologah?
Coming into this season, it was a no brainer that Wagoner was the favorite and everyone would be chasing the Bulldogs. Oologah has proven that they’re not taking a step back this year and it looks like we’re on track for a third consecutive 4A title game between the Bulldogs and Mustangs. We’ll get a little preview next week when Wagoner travels to Oologah in a game that will more than likely decide the district crown.
Is Class 2A Going To Be A Roller Coaster Ride?
Who’s your favorite team to win the 2A state championship this year? You ask five different media members, they might give you three to four different answers. Defending champion Adair is still number one despite being tripped up by Locust Grove. They didn’t have star quarterback BJ Bradbury for that game. Millwood and Chisholm have been impressive in 5-0 starts. Vian’s running game is going to be tough to stop. Davis is 3-2 but they’re Davis, so they’re still contenders. 2A’s championship chase is going to be wild. So just strap in and enjoy the ride.