– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
1) CARL ALBERT (6-0) AT GUTHRIE (6-0)
This match-up is a renewal of a rivalry that has been one of the best in this century. Carl Albert and Guthrie have been two of the more dominant teams in 5A football and have had some great clashes. However, Guthrie took a few steps back but they appear back to normal. And normal for Guthrie is contending for district and state titles. In the last 20 years, Carl Albert and Guthrie combined to win 14 state titles.
The Key: Rabbit Taylor. Carl Albert senior running back Dadrion “Rabbit” Taylor is returning from an injury and he could end up providing the difference as Carl Albert looks to extend their winning streak. When he’s at full strength, Taylor is without a doubt one of the best running backs in the state.
2) STILLWATER (6-0) AT LAWTON (4-2)
This 6A-D2 battle just got a little more interesting. The Pioneers have one of the more unstoppable offenses in the state. However, that offense took a hit with running back Qwontrel Walker having to sit this week, after getting ejected in their win over Choctaw. On the other side, Lawton has one of the best running backs in the state with senior Miles Davis. The Lawton standout has put up monster numbers once again.
The Key: Gunnar Gundy. With Stillwater’s offense missing Walker, more pressure will be on quarterback Gunnar Gundy. The junior has been solid all season long as he has yet to make a critical mistake. However, not having Walker in the backfield will put Gundy in unfamiliar territory that he hasn’t experienced this year.
3) BROKEN ARROW (6-0) AT EDMOND SANTA FE (6-0)
Broken Arrow loads up the pike pass and heads back west for a clash with Edmond Santa Fe. Both teams are unbeaten and both teams have some of the best talent they’ve ever had. Broken Arrow has been the absolute best team in the state. Edmond Santa Fe has quietly had the number one scoring defense in the state. They’re only giving up 10 points per game while scoring nearly 40 points per game on offense.
The Key: Santa Fe Front Seven. Without a doubt the strength for Broken Arrow has been their rushing attack. If Edmond Santa Fe is going to pull off the upset, their front seven has to be able to force Broken Arrow off the field. Santa Fe has one of the best defensive ends in the state with OSU commit Trace Ford.
4) VICTORY CHRISTIAN (6-0) AT BEGGS (5-1)
This is the first of two serious games towards deciding the district champion in a very competitive district. Whoever wins this top ten clash will be one step closer to a district title. However, both teams will face Sperry later in the year, another ranked team looking to claim district supremacy. Both teams have been outstanding under first year head coaches. Victory’s offense is one of the highest scoring in the state.
The Key: Josh Sirleaf. Both teams have their share of playmakers but Josh Sirleaf might top the charts. He’s a weapon on offense for the Conquerors but he’s a game changer on the defensive side of the ball. He’s among the state’s best ball hawks with eight interceptions on the season. He can completely change the game.
5) PLAINVIEW (5-1) AT SULPHUR (5-1)
All signs point to this game deciding the district championship. As it stands right now, Plainview and Sulphur are a step ahead of everyone else in their district and this could end up being a defacto district title game. Plainview has rolled since suffering a non-district loss to 4A’s #3 Tuttle. The same can be said for Sulphur after they dropped their season opener to 4A’s #10 Cache. Barring an upset, the winner here will be the district champ.
The Key: Trey Kiser. When senior running back Trey Kiser is rolling, this Sulphur team is nearly impossible to slow down. Kiser is on pace for some insane rushing numbers this season. He leads the state with 22 rushing touchdowns. If Plainview can’t contain Kiser, it’s going to be a long night for them.
6) CASCIA HALL (5-1) AT BERRYHILL (6-0)
Cascia Hall was nearly knocked off by Vinita last week, but avoided the upset with a 99-yard drive to win it. Now, the focus their attention on unbeaten Berryhill. These two teams have to be considered the favorites to bring home the district title at this point of the season. So the winner here will be one step closer to that and more importantly, they’ll have two home playoff games. However, both teams will have plenty of work ahead of them.
The Key: Berryhill Defense. It seems that Berryhill has started to find their stride when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. The Chiefs gave up nearly 20 points per game during the first three weeks. However, since hitting district play, Berryhill has given up a total of 15 points. It’s pretty simple here, if Cascia can’t score, Cascia can’t win.
7) EL RENO (4-2) AT DUNCAN (6-0)
El Reno goes from playing one unbeaten team that’s a perennial power to facing another unbeaten team that is a surprise. Duncan is an unexpected 6-0 and the Demons are determined to prove that they’re for real. We’re going to find out real fast how serious this team is as a contender. They host El Reno this week before back to back road games against Ardmore and Lawton MacArthur.
The Key: Dorian Plumley. It might be a little too early to call El Reno a contender but they’re certainly entertaining. A big reason for that has been the outstanding play of sophomore quarterback Dorian Plumley. The super sophomore has been one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the state this season.
8) YUKON (4-2) AT WESTMOORE (4-2)
The way this district is playing out, this game could end up being an elimination game. The winner could end up being in. The loser will have to pull off some upsets and still need help to make it in. Both teams are coming off humbling losses last week. Broken Arrow dismantled the Jags while Jenks tossed it all over the yard against Yukon. The team that bounces back the best can keep their playoff hopes alive moving forward.
The Key: Westmoore Defense. The Jaguars just gave up 69 points to Broken Arrow and their rushing attack. Now they have Yukon’s option offense to defend. While the two offenses are not similar, the main goal is simple. Slow down the run. That has been easier said than done so far.
9) BOOKER T WASHINGTON (3-3) AT SAPULPA (5-1)
Booker T Washington is starting to get healthy and that’s a scary thing for 6A-D2. While the quarterback position has been somewhat of a mystery, star running back Thomas Grayson exploded in his return last week. Now they go on the road and try to slow down a Sapulpa offense that has exploded since being shutout by Bixby in week four. The Hornets have the stars on defense to slow down Sapulpa’s offense.
The Key: Second Half. Sapulpa has absolutely lit up the scoreboard, in the first half. However, they haven’t been able to continue that first half success after the halftime break. Meanwhile, the opposite has been true for the Hornets. More times than not, they’ve started slow but finished fast. The second half is key in this one.
10) UNION (4-2) AT MOORE (4-2) (THURS.)
Both teams have bounced back after starting the season 1-2. Since entering district play, both teams are 3-0 and have continued to improve each week. However, Moore has a tall task ahead of them because Union is starting to figure things out. That’s bad news for the Lions as the Redskins have future D1 talent all over the field. Union’s offense is starting to gel together, while the defense is becoming one of the best units in the state.
The Key: Deuces Wild. Union’s defense has hit another level since entering district play. After giving up 30 points per game in non-district play, they’ve given up 10 points total in three district contests. However, Moore quarterback Daniel “Deuce” Hishaw is a dynamic dual-threat talent that could give Union fits.