– 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.
DEFENDING CHAMPION/TEAM TO BEAT
Carl Albert Titans
Time to start naming off some accomplishments. Carl Albert comes into the playoffs as the number one team. They have won the last two state championships. They’re bringing with them a 32-game winning streak into the playoffs. When you’re breaking down the 5A postseason, while it is incredibly deep this year, the conversation has to start with the Titans. After capturing the gold ball a year ago, the Titans came into 2018 with a blend of experience and youth. They had to find guys to replace All State-caliber players. However, Carl Albert is one of a handful of programs that replace All State players with All State players. The Titans have one of the best defenses in the state and they’ll rely on to lead the way. After giving up a combined 52 points to rivals Del City and Midwest City in the first two weeks, the Titans have given up just 37 points combined in their last eight games.
MARQUEE 1ST ROUND GAME
Altus (8-2) AT Bishop McGuinness (8-2)
The road to a gold ball is going to be brutal for these two teams. It starts on Friday in a semifinal-quality match-up that is taking place in the first round. The winner here will have plenty of momentum heading into the quarterfinals, and they will need it. In this particular match-up, both teams are hungry and have their backs against the wall. McGuinness fell to rival Carl Albert in a district title clash last week. Altus was beat up by Duncan and now have to hit the road. Altus knocked off the Irish in the 2015 semifinals, on their way to capturing the state championship. Both teams want to establish the running game and have the firepower to break off some big plays.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Dadrion “Rabbit” Taylor – RB – Carl Albert
This starts a trend of must-watch running backs in Class 5A. Carl Albert has won 32 straight games and the scariest part about the Titans is they’re getting stronger heading into the playoffs. Senior running back Rabbit Taylor missed time with a knee injury this season. He returned in mid-October and has only gotten stronger over the last few weeks. When at full strength, Taylor is one of the more dynamic runners in the state.
Dominic Richardson – RB – Bishop McGuinness
It’s redemption time for one of Oklahoma’s top young stars. Bishop McGuinness junior running back Dominic Richardson had his sophomore season cut short in week ten. He missed the playoffs as the Irish fell short in the title game. Fast forward to this year and Richardson is just as dynamic, if not more so and is ready to make up for the time he missed a year ago. If the Irish make another title game, Richardson will have had a special month.
Jake Tuttle – RB – Collinsville
Collinsville is having a season to remember and you can pick a handful of players to put down here but we’re going with running back Jake Tuttle. The Cardinals have a three-headed monster at RB with Tuttle, Brayden Burd and Malcolm Tillman. Tuttle and Burd have over 1,000 yards and Tillman is less than 200 yards away from joining them. Tuttle leads the crew with 17 touchdowns but Burd and Tillman have 13 and 11 respectively.
Sevion Morrison – RB – Edison
Without a doubt the breakout star of the 2018 football season has been Edison junior running back Sevion Morrison. He’s ran for over 2,600 yards and 34 touchdowns on the year. And no player has been more unstoppable in the last month of the season. After a 1-4 start, Morrison and the Eagles won five straight behind Morrison. The junior ran for nearly 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns in the last five games alone.
Tero Roberts – QB – Ardmore
We break the running back trend with our last player to watch heading into the Class 5A playoffs. However, make no mistake about our next player, the kid is a dynamic runner. Ardmore senior Tero Roberts is one of, if not the most underrated playmakers in Oklahoma right now. Roberts runs the Ardmore option attack to perfection. Ardmore is hungry for a state title and Roberts is a player that can carry a team.
Carl Albert-McGuinness Trilogy Coming?
They just met less than a week ago but we could see a rematch a month later for the state title. Carl Albert knocked off Bishop McGuinness to claim the district title last week, winning 20-14. The Titans and the Irish have met in each of the last two state championship games, with Carl Albert winning both. Could we be on our way to seeing the third straight year between these two rivals? The path to a rematch is going to be brutal, but these two programs expect to get there.
Christian Gotcher nailed three field goals, including the eventual game-winner with under three minutes to play to give Claremore a 23-21 win over Edison back in week three. However, that was then, and this is now. Both teams are better than when they squared off as 0-2 opponents. The Zebras used the win to vault them into a tough district. Meanwhile Edison has excelled behind junior running back Sevion Morrison, who has been unstoppable in the last month.
Tiger On Tiger Crime
On Friday night, Tahlequah will host Coweta and it will be their third meeting in the last 12 months. Tahlequah went on the road and beat Coweta 19-7 to end their season in the first round a year ago. In week two of this year, Tahlequah beat Coweta again, this time 47-37. Coweta now returns to Doc Wadley Stadium looking to slow down Tahlequah QB Tate Christian and RB Dae Dae Leathers. Christian threw for five touchdowns, while Leathers ran for 200 yards in week one.