By: Sandite Pride Editorial Board
The first round of the playoffs came to a close Saturday with some surprisingly close games, but no upsets, and the Sandite Pride post-season picks are perfect thus far.
No. 3 Sand Springs Sandites (Last week No. 3) vs No. 2 Bixby Spartans (2)
Sand Springs (7-4) beat the spread to win a defensive showdown against District One Champion Midwest City (7-4) on the Bombers' turf, for the second time in three years. Midwest City has got to be getting frustrated with the Sandites by this point, but they'll have to wait till next year for payback as the Sandites advance to the semi-finals for a rematch of last year's State Championship game.
Sand Springs executed well on both offense and defense and won the game though consistency and discipline. The Bombers slightly outperformed on both offensive yards per play, and defensive yards-per-play allowed, but gave up 89 yards on 11 penalties, with four of those committed in their own redzone. The home team gave up multiple first downs on penalties, and gave up a safety with a block-in-the-back in their own endzone. The Sandites also won the turnover battle with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. QB Hunter Greathouse completed 9 of 18 passes for 140 yards, but this was the first game of the season without a passing touchdown after multiple endzone attempts were dropped by the receivers. Payton Scott ended with 36 carries for 139 yards and two scores.
Bixby (8-3) absolutely steamrolled their opponents in Putnam City West for the most dominating playoff performance in the division at 49-7. QB Tanner Griffin completed 15 of 30 passes for 254 yards and five scores. The Spartans were mildly stymied on the ground with 34 carries for 134 yards, which is below their average, but still impressive considering the Patriots hold the number three run defense in the division.
Sand Springs and Bixby already met once this season and the Spartans prevailed 35-19 to remain undefeated at home and spoil the Sandites' district title. Bixby had the home field advantage in the game, and the two teams have a habit of splitting wins. Last year Bixby lost to both Sand Springs and Bartlesville in the regular season, then beat both in the playoffs, while the Sandites lost to Booker T. Washington in the regular season and won in the playoffs. The parity of the division means anything is possible, and Sand Springs already has a win over Muskogee, who beat Bixby.
Bixby boasts the top scoring offense in the State with 45 points per game, while the Sandites are fifth with 28 points per game. Sand Springs, however, has a habit of playing to their opponents' skill level. The Spartans have the number one run game and number two passing offense in the state, while the Sandites are only ninth in run coverage and eleventh in pass coverage. The two teams are tied for defensive scoring with both teams holding 28 total points this season. The Sandite offense is fifth in scoring, seventh in yards-per-play, and sixth in yards-per-rush. The Spartan defense is nearly identical to the Sandite defense in all areas but pass coverage, where they're significantly better.
The two teams will meet at Sapulpa High School Stadium Friday at 7:00 p.m. where the Sandites upset Booker T. Washington in last year's semifinal game.
The pick: Bixby 26, CPHS 24.
No. 1 Muskogee Roughers (1) vs No. 5 Lawton Wolverines (6)
Muskogee (9-1) has been heavily favored throughout the season, and was picked by a 31-point margin over the Stillwater Pioneers (5-6), leaving things very uncertain after barely coming from behind for a 24-22 win.
The Pioneers took a 14-0 lead at the Indian Bowl before the Roughers scored three straight to reclaim the lead. Stillwater made a gutsy two-point conversion on their next play to take the lead, but Trent Dennis sent a 28-yard field goal through the uprights for the final score with 0:05 remaining. Stillwater utilized a run-only offense, racking up 403 yards on 66 rushes without a single pass attempt. Muskogee was 24 for 91 yards on the ground, and QB Jacob Medrano completed 23 of 30 passes for 309 yards and three scores.
Lawton (7-4) was caught off guard by the return of Booker T. Washington (6-5) QB Phillip Wheatley who was expected to be out for the season, and barely pulled off a 21-20 victory in a game that they were picked to win by twelve. They took an early 14-0 lead with a pair of touchdown passes from Zack Hanna to Dominick Neal, but Wheatley responded with a 66-yard throw to DJ Jones and another pass to Trace Linn. A missed PAT proved to be the deciding factor in the game. Lawton managed only 27 yards on 32 carries against the Hornets who hold the number two run coverage in the state. Hanna was prolific in the air, however, managing 220 yards on 22 pass attempts.
Overall the Wolverines are fourth in offensive scoring with 33 points per game, while the Roughers are second with 39.5 points per game. The Roughers are also third in defensive scoring with 24 total points this season and second in points allowed, while Lawton is seventh in both defensive scoring and points allowed. Lawton will likely be able to run slightly better than in their last game, but will have a far tougher foe in the air as the Roughers are second in pass coverage.
The pick: Muskogee 31, Lawton 21.
No. 4 Midwest City Bombers (4)
Midwest City finished an impressive season with a 7-4, 6-1 record and the District One Title, after being knocked out of playoff contention by the Sandites. High points included a 20-17 win over Lawton, and a 35-0 shutout of Deer Creek. The Bombers can boast one of the most talented defenses in the state with first place in points allowed and yards per play allowed against both passing and running offenses. They also hold the fifth-best passing offense in the division.
No. 6 Booker T. Washington Hornets (5)
The Hornets finished the season with a 6-5, 4-2 record that could likely have been much better with a healthy quarterback in the end of the season. High points included a 21-14 win over District One Champion Midwest City, a 47-0 shutout of Ponca City, a 45-0 shutout of Sapulpa, and a 17-12 upset over then-No.1 Sand Springs. Their season came to a close with a close 21-20 loss at Lawton. The Hornets hold the number four scoring defense and allowed and were fifth in offensive points allowed. Their run-coverage was second only to Midwest City.
No. 7 Putnam City West Patriots (7)
The Patriots may not have made it past the first round of the playoffs, but they had their best season in decades and were unfortunately paired with the top-scoring team in the State. The Pats finished 7-4, 5-2, with the number three defense in the state in points allowed, and second in yards-per-play allowed. Offensively they were seventh in scoring, and sixth in yards-per-play. High points included winning the Putnam rivalry with a 16-5 win over North and a 42-10 win over Putnam City.
No. 8 Stillwater Pioneers (8)
Stillwater finished the season 5-6, 3-4, but were a much better team than their record indicates. Starting QB Jace Brownlee has struggled all season with a shoulder injury and has missed several games. Even when he could play, the team was rarely able to pass. High points included a 24-7 upset of Edmond Memorial and 34-26 upset of Mustang. The defense was fourth in the division in offensive points allowed, and their offense was third in rushing.
No. 9 Choctaw Yellowjackets (9)
The Yellowjackets finished a hit-or-miss season with a 5-5, 3-4 record and just barely missed the playoffs. High points included a 45-41 upset over Sand Springs, a 14-7 upset over Midwest City, and most impressively, a 52-26 upset over Lawton. Choctaw holds the number three offense in the State in scoring, and is fifth in yards-per-play. They struggled defensively, however, and finished ninth in points-allowed with almost every game being a shootout.
No. 10 Putnam City Pirates (10)
Putnam was just one win short of a winning season, finishing 4-6, 2-5. High points included a 16-7 win over in-town rival Putnam North and a 52-6 blowout of El Reno. They also upset Choctaw 36-32 and finished the season on a strong note with a 42-21 victory over Enid. They finished twelfth in offensive scoring and ninth in total offense and were fifth in the air. Their defense was solid at seventh in points allowed and fifth in yards-per-play.
No. 11 Enid Plainsmen (11)
Enid managed only three wins, but two were quite impressive, upsetting Choctaw 43-39 and dominating Deer Creek 45-17. They finished the season 3-7, 2-5 with a 42-21 loss to Putnam. They finished with the number ten offense and number twelve defense.
No. 12 Bartlesville Bruins (12)
The Bruins struggled off and on throughout the year, but finished strong despite three-straight losses. They gave it their all against Sand Springs and Booker T. and legitimately challenged both. They finished 3-6, 2-4 with wins of 42-20 over Ponca City and 51-28 over Sapulpa. They held the number eight offense in points scored, but were actually fourth in yards-per-play with the number two passing record in the division. Defense was their struggle and they finished fourteenth there.
No. 13 Deer Creek Antlers (13)
The Antlers had a rough start to their 6A debut season, finishing 2-8, 2-5 with wins of 21-14 over Stillwater and 20-14 over Putnam. They were shutout 49-0 in the finale at Lawton and finish with the number fourteen offense and number thirteen defense.
No. 14 Sapulpa Chieftains (14)
Sapulpa has been in a rebuilding year under new head coach Robert Borgstadt, but the Chieftains (1-9, 1-5) have shown promise. They only won a single game, 31-27 over Ponca City, but lost close ones of 24-21 to Duncan, and 52-42 to Choctaw. They finished thirteenth in running, scoring, and total offense, and fifteenth on the ground. Defensively they were fifteenth in points allowed, run coverage, and total defense, and thirteenth in pass coverage.
No. 15 Ponca City Wildcats (15)
The Wildcats finished 2-8, 0-6, but had several solid performances. They lost 42-31 to Enid, defeated Guthrie 9-0, and posted 35 points against Sand Springs. They barely lost 31-27 to Sapulpa and defeated Norman 10-6. Ponca finished the season fifteenth in total offense and eleventh in points allowed. They were tenth in points allowed, fourteenth in yards per play allowed, fifteenth in pass coverage, and tenth in ground coverage.