No. 4 Booker T Washington at No. 1 Sand Springs: game preview

Photo: Morgan Miller

Photo: Morgan Miller

Sand Springs vs. Booker T History
Year, Coach, QB, result

1986 LD Baines, Blair Culley, 21-42 loss (A)
1987 LD Baines, Blair Culley, 15-12 win (H)
1988 LD Baines, Blair Culley, 14-28 loss (A)
1989 LD Baines, Brett Pennington, 0-35 loss (H)
1990 LD Baines, Brett Pennington, 17-31 loss (A)
1991 LD Baines, Brett Pennington, 15-14 win (H)
1992 LD Baines, Mike Quimby, 7-48 loss (H)
1993 LD Baines, Delvin Jordan, 14-21 loss (A)

2012 Dustin Kinard, Cody Hale, 21-7 win (A)
2013 Dustin Kinard, Cody Hale, 42-38 win (H)
2014 Dustin Kinard, Conner Sitton, 35-42 loss (H)
2015 Dustin Kinard, Hunter Greathouse, 14-17 loss (A)
2015 Dustin Kinard, Hunter Greathouse, 30-23 win (N)

Overall record: 5-8-0

Longest Streak: BTW 3
Longest Streak: CPHS 2

Shutouts: BTW 1
Shutouts: CPHS 0

Road wins: BTW 3
Road wins: CPHS 1

Biggest win: BTW 48-7
Biggest win: CPHS 21-7

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

By now just about everyone has heard of "The Play 2pt.0." The famous two-point conversion scramble utilized by Hunter Greathouse and Josh Taber to win a 26-25 upset at the Indian Bowl over previously undefeated No. 1 Muskogee. The ESPN SportsCenter Number One Play of the Day has seen national attention and received more than 13,000 views on the Sandite Pride Facebook page.

The play was very similar to a touchdown score by the Sandites in last year's State Championship loss to Bixby. That year Taber's big brother Jacob picked off a Tanner Griffin pass and pitched a lateral to Cruz Desjarlais for the score. This year it was Greathouse who received his own pass after it was batted fifteen feet up into the air. The QB scrambled and dropped back to his right to look for an option, then made the pitch to Taber as he was closed in on by a trio of Rougher defenders. Taber broke a pair of tackles and dove for the endzone like an arctic fox for the win.

While the end play received the headlines, the whole game, and the fourth quarter in particular, were marked by incredible Sandite athleticism and numerous outstanding plays. 

Greathouse was 16 of 32 for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns with only 1 interception, marking the first time this season the Sandites have relied on the pass game for more than 60% of their total offense. That's not to say the infamous Sandite run game wasn't still prevalent as junior Payton Scott finished his seventh straight game with 100+ yards. 

While the offense was salty as always and ultimately won the game with their quick thinking and adaptive play-making, it was made possible due to what was possibly the most exceptional performance of the season by the defense. The Sandites were coming off a high from the previous week when the defense scored the first two Sandite touchdowns of the game against Ponca City, both on forced fumbles and recoveries for big returns. They also had two interceptions.

The Sand Springs defense has been notorious on the ground for some time, but struggled both last season and this year when it comes to aerial assaults. Last year they were able to shut down the run game from both Bixby and Booker T, but were dominated by Bartlesville's air raid. That struggle carried over into this year as they gave up an upset to Choctaw and allowed Ponca to rack up more yardage and points than the Wildcats have managed all season. 

When the Sandites lost co-defensive coordinator Robert Borgstadt to Sapulpa and graduated the majority of their State Runner-Up starters, the future of the Sand Springs defense was in question. It didn't take long for the team to prove they still had what it takes, however. The unit has been steadily improving all season and made a huge statement against Muskogee.

Booker T. also graduated a lot of players from last year's team that split with the Sandites. Starting QB Dakaria Willis graduated, but newcomer Philip Wheatley has been an improvement in the air, throwing 122-202-1222-3 with eight touchdowns this season. The Hornet aerial game will be a huge obstacle for the Sandites as Wheatley has already completed as many passes this season as Willis even attempted. 

The Hornets are a whole different beast from last season when they ran 44% of their offense through now-Oklahoma State freshman running back Justice Hill. Last season a mere 27% of Booker T's yards came through the air, as opposed to 52% this season. Wheatley isn't quite the double threat that Willis was, but he still is third in his team on the ground with 26 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown. Rylan McQuarters and Tyler Holmes split the bulk of the running with over 700 yards between them and five touchdowns each. Six running backs have scored this season as well as six receivers, meaning the Sandites won't be able to focus their coverage on any single player.

Booker T's defense is equally stout, bringing in seven interceptions for two touchdowns this season, plus six fumble recoveries. They've also racked up 29 sacks this season. 

Here's how the two teams matched up against their three mutual opponents.

No. 1 Sandites (5-2, 3-0)

defeated Sapulpa 35-7
defeated Ponca 56-35
defeated Muskogee 26-25

Average score: 39-22
First downs: 18
First downs allowed: 15
Fumbles-lost: 2-1 (total)
Fumble recoveries: 3 (total)
Penalties-Yards: 4-29

C-A-Y-I: 11-20-157-1
Average: 7.85
Allowed: 17-26-181-1
Average: 6.96

Rushes-Yards: 39-233
Average: 5.97
Allowed: 32-148
Average: 4.63

Plays-Yards: 59-391
Average: 6.62
Allowed: 58-329
Average: 5.67

No. 4 Hornets (4-3, 2-1)

defeated Sapulpa 45-0
defeated Ponca 47-0
lost 24-7 to Muskogee

Average score: 34-8
First downs: 15
First downs allowed: 12
Fumbles-lost: 6-6
Fumble recoveries: 2
Penalties-Yards: 7-90

C-A-Y-I: 16-26-180-0
Average: 6.92
Allowed: 9-22-92-1
Average: 4.18

Rushes-Yards: 39-223
Average: 5.71
Allowed: 30-82
Average: 2.73

Plays-Yards: 65-403
Average: 6.2
Allowed: 52-174
Average: 3.31

The pick from Sandite Pride is Sand Springs 29-24. The Hornets will likely get a few interceptions, but the Sandites haven't given up a pick-six this season and I don't expect that to change. I would be surprised if the lead doesn't get exchanged a few times. Booker T. will likely find most of their offense in the air, and if they don't limit their turnovers they'll be hard pressed to overcome Sand Springs's phenomenal defense.

On paper, the Sandites have the better offense and the Hornets have the better defense, but in actual application we'll likely see it go the other way. The Hornets aren't as disciplined as the Sandites and will likely give up a lot of penalties and turnovers that the Sand Springs defense will more than capitalize on.

While Booker T. and Muskogee were nearly perfectly matched offensively, the Roughers had the decisive win thanks to turnovers. If both Sand Springs and Booker T. play the same way against each other that they did against Muskogee, Sand Springs will win. There is a lot of parity between the two, however, and when it comes down to the field anything can happen. If stats on a page won games, then Muskogee would have dominated the Sandites. Sand Springs has always had a fourth quarter magic, however. Sand Springs has the home field advantage, but the number one ranking often puts a monkey on your back. 

No matter who wins, it's likely to be every bit as exciting as last week's game against Muskogee, and it should be a packed house, especially with it being Senior Night. The Church That Matters tailgate crew will be hosting their weekly fundraiser for the athletics department before the game and will be selling hot dogs, burgers, and chicken sandwiches with chips and a drink, so come early and come hungry!