BEGGS (13-1) VS JOHN MARSHALL (13-1)
The Match-Up: Beggs and John Marshall are set to square off for the Class 3A state championship on Friday night at Stillwater High School. Both teams have plenty of firepower and both teams have had to battle during the playoffs to make it to the title game. We’ve known that John Marshall was building a monster but when you go back and look at the turnaround of this program, it still makes you look at head coach Rashaun Woods in a different light. In 2013, Woods took over a John Marshall program that went 0-10 in 2012. During that first season, the Bears would go 3-7 but things would quickly turn around. In the last four seasons, John Marshall has a 43-8 record, they’ve made the playoffs each year and they continue to improve their record each season. After making it to the semifinals last year, they lost to eventual champion Jones. They were able to beat the Longhorns in a semifinal rematch this year. They’ll look for that next step on Friday night which would end with them raising the gold ball. As for Beggs, they come into the state title game with a different approach. They’ve been going for it and it’s paid off. They suffered heartbreaking shootout losses in the first round of 2015 and 2016. They lost to Berryhill in the 2015 first round 57-56. They lost to Claremore Sequoyah last year 49-48. This year, they’ve had a few close calls the last two weeks but have survived and advanced. After losing those two playoff games by a combined two points, the Demons are going for two every time. That’s not a figure of speech, Beggs goes for two and looks to put up as many points on the scoreboard as possible. While that hasn’t hurt them in the playoffs, it could make for some interesting scenarios if the game ends up being a close one that’s decided in the final minutes on Friday.
The Players: Both teams have some standout players that will no doubt be making plays on Friday. But when John Marshall is in the mix, you have to start the conversation there with running back Devonte Lee. The senior running back is without a doubt the best running back in Oklahoma right now. He nearly ran for 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns last year. He’s 50 yards away from going over 2,000 and has 33 touchdowns this year. Lee added to his legend last week in the semifinal win over Jones. He was nowhere near 100% after being banged up against Kingfisher. He still ran for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Lee is one of, if not the strongest running backs to come out of Oklahoma this decade. The scary part? He’s not alone. While Lee has been banged up, Trey Eason has stepped up and has gone for over 1,000 yards to help in Lee’s absence. With Lee and Eason in the backfield, John Marshall has one of the best rushing attacks in the state. Beggs is coming off one of the best passing attacks in playoff history. Quarterback Dalton Spring threw for nearly 600 yards as the Beggs aerial assault did enough damage to come from behind and beat Sulphur. Everyone in the state knows about Devonte Lee at John Marshall at this point. Not everyone knows about Beggs wide receiver EJ Smoot, who we’ve made the argument is one of the more underrated prospects in Oklahoma’s 2018 class. Smoot is an absolute game changer at wide receiver and he has been Spring’s top target and is coming off a spectacular game in the win over Sulphur. While Beggs has to worry about slowing down Lee, John Marshall has to figure out who’s going to cover Smoot in the passing game. Don’t be surprised to see these playmakers put on a show and put plenty of points on the board.
The History: These two teams probably wouldn’t be at the top of the list when it comes to perennial powerhouses in Class 3A football. That is clearly changing as Beggs and John Marshall get ready to clash for the gold ball on Friday night. Both teams have been knocking on the door the last few years but have come up short. In regards to the history between these two programs in particular, there is no history. Friday’s meeting in the state championship game will be the first time they’ve squared off ever. They each have two common opponents this year. Both teams faced Okmulgee and Sulphur and both won.
Beggs: Beggs is playing for the state championship for the first time since making two title game appearances in the span of three years. The Demons are 1-1 in those first two championship game appearances. They shutout Millwood to win the Class A title in 1975. They were tripped up by Watonga in their next championship clash in 1977. This team is the first to make it out of the quarterfinals since that ’77 team.
John Marshall: Rashawn Woods has completely turned this John Marshall program around and the Bears are playing for the state championship for the first time since winning the whole thing in 1995. The Bears knocked off Lawton MacArthur to win the Class 5A state title. The Bears are in the title game for the fifth time in school history. They hold a 2-2 record in championship games.
Who You Got?