By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
No. 1 Bixby Spartans (Last week No. 2, preseason No. 1) vs No. 2 Lawton Wolverines (Last week No. 5, preseason No. 8)
The State Championship Semi-final games came to a close Friday with a big upset for Lawton, setting the Wolverines up for a rematch of their 2014 State Finals game. The two-time defending State Champions from Bixby defeated the Sandites for the third-straight year in a nail-bitter and will now take on their toughest offensive opponent since losing to Muskogee in week five.
Bixby has the more explosive record against mutual opponents, winning by an average score of 44-18, compared to Lawton's 29-22, however, Lawton is 4-0 against mutual opponents while the Spartans are 3-1. Muskogee topped Bixby 45-42 in a week-five shootout after winning the turnover battle, while the Wolverines topped the Roughers 35-28 by winning the turnover battle.
This season has seen an unprecedented amount of parity and circular losses as the Division-II teams that never had a shot in 6A-I are revitalizing their programs in a highly competitive year with numerous newcomers to contention. Choctaw upset Midwest City and Lawton; Lawton upset Muskogee; Putnam West upset Sand Springs; Stillwater upset Edmond Memorial and Mustang; Deer Creek upset Stillwater; Muskogee upset Bixby; Sand Springs upset Muskogee; Booker T. upset Sand Springs. In a season this wild, anything could happen.
That being said, Bixby is still the clear favorite to win--for many reasons. Bixby doesn't lose without major mistakes and miracle plays. They have three losses this season, and two were to annual powerhouse teams. 6A-I No. 1 Jenks was ranked as high as 23rd in the nation by MaxPreps before they lost in a 45-21 upset to No. 3 Union. The Trojans topped the Spartans in a close 38-34 come-from-behind battle in week two in their closest match of the season. The next Spartan loss was 44-34 to Arkansas 7A No. 4 Bentonville (10-2). Bixby's loss to Muskogee came on the heels of three turnovers in a game that the Spartans dominated offensively.
Lawton has battled through a slightly weaker schedule with bigger losses and closer wins. They lost 56-41 to 5A No. 3 Carl Albert (11-1), 35-28 to 5A No. 1 MacArthur (12-0), and 20-17 to Midwest City (7-4). Though those were all respectable losses to quality teams, they have several other blights on their schedule. They gave up 37 points to Eisenhower (2-8), only beat Putnam City (4-6) by a close 26-14, and Stillwater (5-6) 21-14. They then gave up a massive 52-26 loss to Choctaw (5-5). Though their four-straight wins since then have been of solid quality, they simply don't match up to Bixby.
Bixby owns the number-two scoring defense, while Lawton comes in at fifth. Bixby is sixth in offensive points allowed, Lawton is seventh. Lawton has a slight edge on Bixby defensively when it comes to yards per play, both rushing and passing, but the Spartans have the most dominant scoring offense in the State, by a significant margin. While the Wolverines are fourth in scoring, the Spartans are first with 41.5 points per game. Lawton has the edge in the air, but Bixby has the top run game in the State.
Their overall records indicate a close game, but when you limit it to their four mutual opponents, Bixby emerges as the clear favorite. Lawton has actually under-performed their foes offensively, while winning on turnovers. Bixby out performs their opponents by nearly 200 yards, while also winning the turnover battle every time.
The Spartans are back-to-back defending State Champions with an 8-0 post-season record over the last three years. Lawton is 0-2 against the Spartans over the last two seasons, falling 35-21 in the 2014 State Title game to end the season 11-2. Last year the Wolverines lost to Bixby in the quarterfinals 36-6 to finish the year 8-2.
Wolverines (8-4, 5-2)
defeated Putnam City 26-14
defeated Booker T. 21-20
defeated Putnam West 35-28
defeated Muskogee 35-28
Average score: 29-23
First downs: 15
Fumbles-lost: 7-2 (total)
Recoveries: 3 (total)
Interceptions thrown: 3 (total)
Interceptions caught: 8 (total)
Spartans (9-3, 5-1)
defeated Putnam City 56-20
defeated Booker T. 28-0
defeated Putnam West 49-7
lost 45-42 to Muskogee
Average score: 44-18
First downs: 23
Fumbles-lost: 6-3 (total)
Recoveries: 4 (total)
Interceptions thrown: 2 (total)
Interceptions caught: 9 (total)
The Pick: Bixby 30, Lawton 24.
No. 3 Sand Springs Sandites (Last week No. 3, preseason No. 2)
The Charles Page High School Sandites (7-5, 4-2) don't have the record or the stats to indicate a top-four team, but they have the kind of Sandite magic that ends up on ESPN Sportscenter and upsets number-one ranked teams. The Sandite Defense is tenth in points allowed and ninth in yards per play allowed, but second in scoring. Offensively they were only eighth in yards per play, but fifth in scoring. The Sandites had several big wins, including a 35-7 rout of Highway 97 rival Sapulpa, a 56-35 shootout with Ponca City, a 26-25 upset of top-ranked Muskogee, and a 23-14 win at Midwest City.
No. 4 Muskogee Roughers (Last week No. 1, preseason No. 4)
Muskogee may not have won their first State Championship in thirty years, but they did finish with a District Title and their first winning record since 2008 at 9-2, 5-1. The Roughers boast the number one yards-per-play offense in the state and won several notable games. They bested District One Champion Midwest City 16-12, upset Bixby 45-42, dominated Booker T. Washington 23-7, and shut out Ponca City 48-0. Their offense was second in scoring, fifth rushing, and first passing. Their defense also played lights-out all season and are first in scoring and second in offensive points allowed with the second-best pass coverage.
No. 5 Midwest City Bombers (Last week No. 4, preseason No. 5)
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 (Last week No. 6, preseason No. 3)
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 were fourth in points allowed. Their run-coverage was second only to Midwest City.
No. 7 Putnam City West Patriots (Last week No. 7, preseason No. 14)
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 five 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 (Last week No. 8, preseason No. 10)
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 third in the division in offensive points allowed, and their offense was second in rushing.
No. 9 Choctaw Yellowjackets (Last week No. 9, preseason No. 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 (Last week No. 10, preseason No. 7)
Putnam finished 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 eleventh in offensive scoring and ninth in total offense and were sixth in the air. Their defense was solid at eighth in points allowed and fifth in yards-per-play allowed.
No. 11 Enid Plainsmen (Last week No. 11, preseason No. 12)
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 and were sixth in yards per rush.
No. 12 Bartlesville Bruins (Last week No. 12, preseason No. 6)
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 six offense in points scored, but were actually fourth in yards-per-play with the number three passing record in the division. Defense was their struggle and they finished fourteenth in points allowed, eleventh in yards per play, but an impressive fifth in yards per pass.
No. 13 Deer Creek Antlers (Last week No. 13, preseason No. 11)
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 (Last week No. 14, preseason No. 13)
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 tenth in the air. Defensively they were fifteenth in points allowed, run coverage, and total defense, and thirteenth in pass coverage.
No. 15 Ponca City Wildcats (Last week No. 15, preseason No. 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 tenth in offensive scoring. They were eleventh in points allowed, fourteenth in yards per play allowed, fifteenth in pass coverage, and eleventh in ground coverage.