– BY MICHAEL KNIGHT
The 2018 football season has come and gone. It feels like just yesterday we were previewing the 2018 campaign. Now it’s time to recap it! Continuing today, and finishing up on December 29th, we’ll have postseason content from season in reviews to all state teams every day. Be sure to check back in with OKPreps every day for a new feature.
Carl Albert Titans
Carl Albert headed into the 2018 season as back to back state champions and all eyes on them. They went unbeaten in 2017 for the first time in school history and despite graduating some great players, the Titans were still the team to beat in Class 5A. A big reason behind that was the backfield return of quarterback Ben Harris and running back Dadrion “Rabbit” Taylor.
The season kicked off with back to back rivalry clashes. For the first time in a while, Midwest City and Del City were back on the Carl Albert schedule and the Titans were able to claim Mid-Del bragging rights with wins over both. They jumped out big over Midwest City and would hold on to get a 28-21 win over the Bombers. However, they lost Taylor to a knee injury and would be without him for a month. The following week against Del City, the Titans escaped with a 32-31 win over the Eagles in overtime. It was one of the more entertaining games of the season and a shootout that the Titans would find themselves in the rest of the year.
After giving up a combined 52 points to the Bombers and the Eagles after the first two weeks, the Titans wouldn’t give up 52 points the rest of the regular season combined. In fact, they only gave up a combined 37 points over their next eight games. That included a shutout win over Guthrie on the road in week seven.
Earlier in the decade it was Guthrie that was the big district rivalry clash but now it’s definitely Bishop McGuinness. The Irish and the Titans have been two of the best teams in 5A football over the last three seasons. They played in the 2016 and 2017 state title games. And it was fitting that these two teams wouldn’t meet up in 2018 until the final week of the regular season, with the district championship on the line. In a battle between two great running backs, Taylor and the Titans would prevail over Dominic Richardson and the Irish with a 20-14 win.
The following week, the Titans would open up their playoff run against upstart El Reno. The Titans found themselves in a 7-7 deadlock at halftime. They would outscore the Indians 21-0 in the second half to roll to the quarterfinals. In their next contest, they would blow out Claremore for the second straight year in the quarterfinal round. They would beat the Zebras 42-6, setting up a 1 VS 2 showdown in the semifinals against Collinsville. It was a close game for the first three quarters but the Titans would outscore Collinsville 17-0 in the final quarter, remaining undefeated in semifinal contests with a 37-20 win.
That set up a championship showdown against undefeated Ardmore. The Titans would overcome the Ardmore option attack and thunderstorms to get out with a 17-10 win. Carl Albert trailed at halftime but would shut out the Tigers in the final two quarters. Carl Albert captured their 14th state championship in school history with the win over Ardmore, improving to 14-1 in title games. With their 14th title, the Titans are now tied with Morrison for fourth most titles in school history. Only Ada (19), Clinton (16) and Jenks (16) have more championships.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Rabbit Taylor – RB – Carl Albert
Carl Albert was a completely different team when they got their star running back Rabbit Taylor back on the field. In the season opener against Midwest City, the senior Titan would hurt his knee, forcing him to miss four games and he wouldn’t really get back on the field until week six. However, once he got back on the field, he more than made up for the missed time. He took the Titans to another level and showed why he’s one of the best running backs in the state. Despite missing significant time, Taylor still put up big numbers. He ran for 24 touchdowns on the season, more than his junior numbers a year ago. And Rabbit saved his best performance for a clash with the state’s best defense. In a win over Collinsville, Rabbit ran for more than 300 yards and five touchdowns.
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sevion Morrison – RB – Edison
No player was more of a breakout star than Edison junior running back Sevion Morrison. The Edison junior quickly became a household name by October. He finished with over 2,700 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns on the season. He had arguably one of the best five-week stretches that we’ve seen from a running back. After Edison started the season 1-4, Morrison and the Eagles completely changed their fortunes. They would go 5-0 over the last five games, as Morrison would run for nearly 1,750 yards and 26 touchdowns in those final five games alone. For most running backs, those numbers make for a great season. Morrison did it in a little over a month.
District Champions Dominate Playoffs
Class 5A was dominated by the top teams in the class. The best teams found themselves at the top of the rankings for the majority of the season and it stayed that way once we reached the playoffs. While we might have seen a small upset here and there in the first two rounds, one thing was consistent. The top teams moved on. All four district champions advanced to the 5A semifinals. Ardmore, Bishop Kelley, Carl Albert and Collinsville all captured their district title and then would advance to the semifinals. Ardmore, Carl Albert and Collinsville were all unbeaten. Bishop Kelley only had two losses. One to 6A-D2’s Booker T Washington and the other to rival Bishop McGuinness, who they beat in the quarterfinals.
While all the top teams would make it far in the 5A playoffs, one perennial powerhouse was missing from the postseason all together. For the first time in 16 years, Lawton MacArthur missed out on the playoffs. The Highlanders would finish the 2018 campaign 4-6. They were in a brutal district that featured Altus, Ardmore and Duncan, who would combine to go 30-6 this season. They missed out on the playoffs after losing to an El Reno team that is very much on the rise. The Indians were one of the better offensive teams in the state this year and with a young roster, could provide some problems in the future. However, don’t expect Lawton MacArthur to make missing out on the playoffs a regular occurance moving forward.
Titan Winning Streak In Tact
Carl Albert will go into the 2019 season with the state’s longest active winning streak. The Titans have won 36 consecutive games and have had back to back 14-0 seasons. Carl Albert also has two streaks going within their winning streak. Head coach Mike Corley and quarterback Ben Harris are both 28-0. Corley hasn’t lost a game since becoming Titan head coach and Harris is perfect since starting at quarterback in 2017 as a freshman. Wagoner set the 11-man state record for longest winning streak with 48 straight wins from 2014-2017. Carl Albert will have the opportunity to break the streak as they head into next season. They’ll also get a chance at another piece of history. No team has gone undefeated in three consecutive seasons. The Titans will have a shot at that in 2019.
Bishop Kelley 34, Bishop McGuinness 33 (5A Quarterfinal)
Take your pick when it comes to the Bishop Battle. However, when it comes to this season, we lean to the game that meant the most, and that came in the 5A quarterfinal round. These two rivals always tend to play highly competitive and close games and 2018 was no different. In fact, this year, we were fortunate enough to see not one, but two close Bishop Battles. The first came in the regular season with McGuinness prevailing in overtime. However, this fantastic finish belongs to Bishop Kelley and put the Comets into the semifinals for the first time in a long time. Bishop Kelley would knock off rival McGuinness 34-33. Bishop Kelley would score on a trick play with over two minutes left to take the lead for good. The Irish would put a drive together but they would fall well short of field goal range. Year in and year out, Bishop Kelley-Bishop McGuinness is one of the best rivalry games in Oklahoma. We certainly got lucky this year with two great Bishop Battles. However, we need to see round three after each team came away with a win this season.