By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
After a 20-0 shutout of the 2014 6A-II defending State Champions from Bixby, Sand Springs will travel to its fourth-consecutive playoff appearance this Friday night at Stillwater.
The Sandites have a long tradition of losing to the Pioneers, but this year they’re the clear favorites to advance.
Charles Page has a deceptive 5-4 record this season after forfeiting two wins due to an ineligible player, and cancelling one game just before the half due to lightning. Sand Springs led Guthrie 18-7 when they called it a night.
Stillwater has a longer tradition of success than Sand Springs, but this year they’re only 5-5 and will need to make it to the Championship just to reach a winning record.
Sand Springs is riding high defensively, allowing only 111 points this season, their best record since 1997, and has scored 302 points against their opponents. Stillwater, meanwhile, has allowed more points than they’ve scored with a record of 246-276.
The only true losses for Sand Springs are #1 Booker T (9-0) and #2 Bartlesville (9-1), whereas Stillwater has losses to 5A unranked Deer Creek (7-3), 6A-I #6 Mustang (7-3), 6A-I unranked Edmond North (4-6), #5 Lawton (8-1), and #13 Putnam City West (4-6).
It hasn’t always been this clear-cut, however. Historically, Stillwater leads the series 30-11-1.
The two teams first met in 1934 and Sand Springs brought home a 13-6 win on their way to a 7-2-1 season finish. The Pioneers, however, recorded the first shut out of the series the following year in a low scoring 3-0 week 9 game. 1936 was a 0-0 tie, but Stillwater got the better of the Sandites for the next decade.
The biggest loss Stillwater ever dealt the Sandites was 70-6 during the 1-year tenure of Travis Rhodes in 1961. Sand Springs scored 6 points exactly in five-straight meetings from 1961-1975.
In 1977, Stillwater spoiled the Sandites’ perfect season in round two of the playoffs. Charles Page was ranked #1 in 3A under head coach AD James. Richie Schuler was the quarterback that year. Sand Springs beat Broken Arrow 14-7, defeated Highway 97 rival Sapulpa 21-7, upset #1 Owasso 20-9 on the Rams’ home-field, and shut out three teams to secure their seventh district title before the Pioneers brought an end to the magical season.
The first overtime game between the two teams was in 1978 and Stillwater edged out Sand Springs 29-26, then in 1979 Stillwater spoiled the Sandite homecoming with a 13-10 loss.
The Sandites finally rebounded in 1981 in the second year with Gary Quimby as head coach and Eric Haines at quarterback. Sand Springs went 5-5 in the regular season and secured their eighth district championship with a triple overtime win over Ponca City and a narrow 22-21 victory over the Pioneers.
The series now stood at 2-10-1 and in 1982 Sand Springs managed to repeat with a single-touchdown win at Pioneer Stadium under head-coach Chris Thurmond. It was one of only two wins that season.
The Pioneers spoiled yet another magical season for the Sandites in 1987, handing them their second loss of the season in week eight, 17-9. The first loss of the season was a 28-27 overtime defeat by Bartlesville. Those three teams shared a district title that year and the Sandites went 10-3 after beating Memorial and Norman in the playoffs before losing 14-10 to eventual state champion Lawton.
In 1989 Stillwater shut out Sand Springs 17-0, but in 1990 Sand Springs returned the favor. That year Sand Springs beat Broken Arrow 6-0, #6 Stillwater 13-0, and Ponca City 28-0 on their way to the playoffs. In the post-season, the Sandites beat #10 Union and #9 Jenks to earn a #5 ranking in the state before losing 24-7 to Putnam North in the semifinals for a final record of 9-4.
Sand Springs fended off the Pioneers 10-7 in 1991 for another playoff appearance, but Stillwater ran away with the next five meetings, including 12-0 and 14-0 shutouts in 1993 and 1995, respectively.
In 1997 Sand Springs upset #2 Stillwater 17-11 on their way to a perfect regular season, then beat #7 Broken Arrow and #11 Sapulpa in the playoffs before barely falling 10-7 to Yukon in the semifinals. It was the tenth and final district championship for Sand Springs.
Stillwater won a 28-0 shutout in 1998 and a 45-0 shutout in 2000 as part of a 6-meeting streak before a 37-16 loss in 2008 under Dustin Kinard. Sand Springs won 45-41 the following year, then lost 42-35 for homecoming in 2010, and 38-37 in 2011.
The Sandites are the reigning victors, however, with a 41-27 win in 2012 and a 44-41 win in 2013.
The 44-41 game in 2013 was the highest scoring game of the series, and the last several meetings have been shootouts.
Terrance Dixon of Sand Springs currently holds the record for most rushing yards ever recorded at Pioneer Stadium with 299 and three touchdowns (also a record) in the 45-41 win in 2009.
The 2009 game also set the record for longest touchdown pass recorded in Pioneer stadium (73 yard reception by Patrick Goggin from Darrack Harger) and longest interception return for touchdown (68 yards by Devlin McVicker).