– 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.
Tuttle is once again title town as the Tigers were a perfect 14-0, on their way to capturing their third state championship in school history and the first since 2005. When we previewed Class 4A back before the season began, we listed the Tigers as a darkhorse to possibly win the whole thing. They had plenty of talent returning but the road to a gold ball was going to be a gauntlet. They passed every test this year and they did so with flying colors.
They opened the season on a Thursday night in Newcastle. Quarterback Carson Berryhill wasted no time showing how much he had improved this offseason, leading the Tigers to a 41-7 rout of Newcastle. The following week, the Tigers hosted Kingfisher in week one. They got out with a 26-14 win over one of the top 3A teams in the state. They followed that up by going on the road to face another 3A powerhouse in Plainview. This time, they left town with a 34-19 win.
After a week off and a pair of district blowouts, the Tigers would travel to Bethany to face the Bronchos. Tuttle took full advantage of turnovers and would get out with a 30-7 victory. Tuttle would folllow that up with a blowout victory over McLoud, before squaring off with Blanchard on a Thursday night during fall break. The Tigers would remain undefeated with a 35-21 victory. At this point of the season, all eyes in Class 4A were squarely on Tuttle as they had proven to any doubters that they were for real this season. The Tigers would roll the following two weeks and into the playoffs as district champions and 10-0 for the third time in the last four seasons.
However, this team was different from those undefeated regular season teams in the past. They were talented, they were deep, and most importantly, they were healthy. Tuttle would open up the playoffs with a shutout victory over Anadarko. Up next was a quarterfinal clash with a Hilldale team that had just stunned Bristow in the first round. Tuttle responded with a decisive 42-14 victory. That led to a 1 VS 2 showdown in the semifinals against Poteau. Both teams came into the semifinal clash undefeated. Both teams had been 1 and 2 for months and from late September on, all road pointed to an eventual showdown with these two.
Tuttle took advantage of Poteau not being 100% by forcing multiple turnovers. They were able to put up 21 on the scoreboard. Not many teams had success even getting into double digits against the Pirates. Tuttle punched their ticket to the title game with a 21-11 win over the Pirates. That set up a rematch with district opponent Bethany for the gold ball. In a game that was much different than their regular season meeting in October, Tuttle made enough plays and contained Sammy Brandt enough to capture the gold ball, winning 35-28. Carson Berryhill led the Tigers in a battle between two star quarterbacks and the Tuttle senior came out on top.
Tuttle certainly earned this state championship when you take a look at some of the teams that they had to face, in some cases, face multiple times. Not only were they perfect, they played one of the toughest schedules and in a lot of those games, they were simply dominant. It’s always interesting to think how some of the smaller state champions would hold up if they played a class or two up. We’re not suggesting that Tuttle would win the title in 5A or higher. But we are absolutely saying they wouldn’t back down from the challenge and they would certainly hold their own.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sammy Brandt – QB/DB – Bethany
Bethany junior quarterback and defensive back Sammy Brandt was a one-man wrecking crew, helping lead the Bronchos to a Runner Up finish. Football is a team sport but Brandt was as much of a complete gamechanger as we’ve seen in 2018. He threw for over 2,600 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 65% of his passes. He also added over 1,200 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. If you took one aspect of his game away, he completely torched you with the other. And when the Bethany offense was off the field, you still had to worry about where Brandt was. The junior had 76 tackles and 7 interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. You can make the argument that Brandt is also the Breakout Player Of The Year in 4A. He had a respectable season as a sophomore but his junior year was out of this world. However, for now, we’ll stick with overall player of the year for 4A football.
BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Bryce Madron – RB – Blanchard
We stay in the district and in the junior class with our Breakout Player Of The Year. Blanchard running back Bryce Madron was an absolute terror for the Lions’ offense this year. Coming into the season, all eyes were going to be on speedster Jamie Nance, the Nebraska commit. Nance, a receiver and threat in the return game, is one of the top recruits in the state. Madron was able to take advantage of the attention spent on Nance and had an absolute breakout season for the Lions. Madron found the end zone 32 times on the ground and was one of the top running backs in the state when it came down to finding the end zone. What’s more impressive than Madron’s numbers is that they came against some stiff competition. Blanchard played in one of the toughest districts in the state, featuring both teams that made it to the state title game.
Fourth Straight Perfect 4A Season
Tuttle finished off an undefeated season that might have seemed somewhat improbable before the season began, considering how tough the schedule was. But at this point, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the 4A state champion was perfect as this was the fourth straight year that the state champion in 4A football had a perfect record. Wagoner was 14-0 in 2015 and 2016. Heritage Hall captured the gold ball a year ago and went 14-0 in the process. Now, Tuttle is your 4A state champion and will carry a 14-game winning streak into the 2019 season. It’s been said already but the fact that Tuttle was able to go unbeaten this season is so impressive. Not all undefeated records are created equal. The Tigers were tested week in and week out and played one of the toughest overall schedules from week zero to the state title game. But at this point, maybe we should just start expecting that whoever the 4A champion is will be perfect.
Poteau Snakebit Late In The Season
If you followed along this season on OKPreps, you know that we stuck with the Poteau Pirates until that ship went down in the semifinals. The Pirates were the preseason #1 team and remained in that top spot until they were beaten by eventual state champion Tuttle. However, the Pirates suffered some key injuries late in the season that prevented them from being close to 100% late in the regular season and into the playoffs. First, the Pirates lost star running back Easton Francis during the regular season. He would return for the playoff run, but as they got Francis back, they lost quarterback Jett Pitchford. The senior QB returned to the field for their semifinal clash with Tuttle, but it was clear that he wasn’t at 100%. Injuries happen in football, and they happen to every team. But you would have loved to see what would have happened in a match-up between Poteau and Tuttle, with both teams at 100%.
Year Of The Quarterbacks
Class 4A was dominated this year by some breakout players at the quarterback position. 4A still had some can’t miss running backs but four QB’s in particular became some of the top passers in the state this year. Tuttle senior Carson Berryhill had an unbelievable season leading the Tigers to a state championship. He was flawless in his play on the field this year. We already mentioned Jett Pitchford at Poteau, he had a breakout season after struggling with turnovers last season. Bethany junior Sammy Brandt was the best overall player in 4A football and will have all eyes on him heading into 2019. Cushing also had a standout at the quarterback position with Will Moyer, who was at or near the top of the passing charts throughout the season.
Bethany 31, Clinton 30 (2OT In Semifinals)
Bethany found their way to a rematch with Tuttle for the state championship but it wasn’t without an unbelievable amount of drama in the semifinals. The Bronchos found themselves in an unexpected dog fight with Clinton in the semifinal round. Now, coming into the game, Bethany knew they would get a huge clash with a program that features so much pride and tradition. However, I’m sure the Bronchos couldn’t help looking ahead when they found themselves up 21-0 in the blink of an eye. Bethany’s Jackson Howard would take the opening kick back for a touchdown. Bethany would then force a 3 & out and score. And after another Clinton 3 & out, Bethany’s Sammy Brandt would score his second touchdown and they were up 21-0. However, as it would be expected with a program like Clinton, they came storming back. Bethany only led 21-14 by halftime. In fact, despite jumping out to a 21-0 lead, Bethany was shutout as they were tied at 21 after regulation. Both teams would kick field goals in the first overtime. Bethany would then need a miracle on fourth down and out of field goal range. They would get it as Sammy Brandt would launch a pass to the end zone that was brought down by Lawson Stout. Clinton would respond with a touchdown, but their PAT was wide left and Bethany found their way to the title game.