– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
OKPreps will have wall to wall coverage of the 2018 playoffs. We kick things off with our playoff preview series. Breaking down the bracket, checking out the contenders and giving you some players to watch. You’ll also hear from coaches with our OKPreps Scene Setter Podcasts.
The Owasso Rams had a season to remember in 2017, capturing the state championship behind a star-studded cast. The Rams came into 2018 with some of those pieces back but they had plenty of youth on both sides of the ball. A tough early schedule, combined with that youth and getting bit hard by the injury bug led to Owasso suffering a three-game losing streak in September and a 1-3 start on the year. Owasso would follow that up with a four-game winning streak before being upset on the road by Moore. In a must-win situation to open the playoffs at home, Owasso went on the road and dominated Putnam City North to close out the season. It appears that the Rams are getting healthy and that youth is turning into experience. That’s a scary thought for the rest of 6A-D1.
TEAM TO BEAT
Broken Arrow Tigers
On the latest episode of the OKPreps Scene Setter, we were asked which team, in any class, was the biggest favorite to win the gold ball. Our answer was the Broken Arrow Tigers. How could they not be after what they’ve done in the last two-plus months? They started off the year with a gauntlet schedule in the first month. They beat Jenks, Owasso, Union and Mansfield, Texas by an average margin of 21 points per game. They followed that up by dismantling the rest of their district opponents by an average score of 59-4. That’s not a typo. The Tigers have perfected the two-quarterback system. They have the school’s all time leading rusher at running back. An All American anchoring the offensive line. And they also have a defense littered with future D1 football players. It’s hard to pick against them at this point.
MARQUEE 1ST ROUND GAME
Edmond Santa Fe (7-3) AT Union (8-2)
Two of the more talented teams in the state will square off with a spot in the semifinals on the line. For the second straight year, these two will meet up in the first round. Another intriguing dynamic is the fact that these two teams appear to be heading in two different directions. Union bounced back from a 1-2 start and the Redskins continue to look better and better every time they take the field. However, Edmond Santa Fe has hit a rough patch in the last few weeks of the regular season. They started the year 6-0 but have dropped three of their last four contests, including being upset last week by Norman. Despite all of that, you can’t ignore the pure talent that will be on display at Tuttle Stadium.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ian Corwin – QB – Jenks
Jenks went from having one three-year starter at QB with Cooper Nunley to another one in Ian Corwin. In fact, Corwin has surpassed Nunley on some of the Jenks passing records, as he’s thrown for over 8,000 yards in his career. However, as he enters his last playoff run, he’s still searching for something that Nunley captured. A gold ball. Nunley won three straight for the Trojans from 2013-2015.
Noah Cortes – RB – Broken Arrow
Similar to Corwin at Jenks, Broken Arrow’s Noah Cortes has his name atop many of the records at Broken Arrow. Cortes has had a stellar season and is in an offense that wants to establish the running game. Cortes had at least two touchdowns in just about every game this year for the Tigers. Broken Arrow has stars everywhere on the field but it’s Cortes that brings it all together and has been a consistent force for the Tigers this year.
Peyton Thompson – QB – Union
Union once again has multiple players on both sides of the ball that are some of the best at their position. However, for Union to make a deep run to another possible gold ball, all eyes will be on senior quarterback Peyton Thompson. The experienced signal caller has hit a stride over the last month with his new group of receivers. If he’s able to keep that rhythm, opposing defenses won’t be able to key in on the run like earlier in the season.
Trace Ford – ATH – Edmond Santa Fe
When it comes to college recruits, no player on this list is more highly rated than Edmond Santa Fe’s Trace Ford. The Oklahoma State commit is one of the best defensive ends in the country and is a freak of an athlete. Because of that, Edmond Santa Fe has gotten creative this year with how they use their speed rusher. Ford is also routinely seen on the offensive side of the ball as a tight end. He’s caught several touchdowns this year.
Will Kuehne – QB – Owasso
Owasso quarterback Will Kuehne was flawless last year, leading the Rams to their first state championship in over four decades. This year, as injuries and youth slowed down the Rams at different points, it was the play of Kuehne that kept them as contenders. Kuehne has new weapons around him and they have continued to improve. Those young playmakers will rely on Kuehne’s experience as they head into the playoffs.
Drought Turns Into A Streak
At this time last year, Moore was in the process of ending their decade-plus playoff drought. They would make the playoffs but got beaten out by Jenks. Fast forward to this year and the Lions have gone from having a playoff drought to having a playoff streak as they’ve punched their ticket to the postseason for the second straight year. Unfortunately, it might be a quick trip as they’ll face #1 Broken Arrow in the first round.
Jenks In For 30th Straight Year
Only five programs have had streaks of reaching the playoffs in thirty consecutive seasons. Jenks is the latest to join the club that features Cascia Hall, Davis, Seminole and Thomas. Cascia Hall is the active leader with 32 consecutive appearances. Davis and Thomas are tied with 34 straight appearances. What’s more impressive than 30 straight is that Jenks only lost four times in the first round. The Trojans have suffered only one first round exit in their last 23 appearances.
The last time Norman was in the playoffs was 2012. The Tigers made the playoffs from 2010-2012 and were eliminated each year by Owasso. That will be their first round opponent after the Tigers upset Edmond Santa Fe to wrap up the regular season. The 2010 playoff meeting was one of the more exciting playoff games in Class 6A. Owasso outlasted Norman in five overtimes to survive and advance.