SWOK Sports

NOTHING BUT GREEN: Magazine touts city, area teams

July 23, 2017

 

Shortly after returning from my honeymoon last week, I opened my mailbox to find a pleasant surprise.


It wasn't cards filled with congratulatory praises or money, nor was it anything else newlyweds would typically expect to receive after tying the knot.

 

No, what awaited me was far more valuable than cash or kitchen utensils.


That's right -- what graced the inside of that mailbox was the VYPE Pigskin Preview, otherwise known as the "Bible" of Oklahoma football.
 

I'm being facetious, of course, but if you love high school football like me, you understand my excitement.

 

After all, I don't have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads, 'We interrupt this marriage to bring you football season' for no reason.
 

I have picked up this publication every year since 2009, and it is always money well spent. This year is no different.


The 2017 edition is packed from cover-to-cover, providing information on 438 high school football teams in the state, including sections on the state college teams -- Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa.

 

All of that in only 256 pages. It doesn't get any better.


It didn't take me long to put on my analyzing glasses when reading through the preview, and while you will be getting much more information from the Constitution in the next few weeks, I thought I'd give you some highlights and surprises about some of the Southwest Oklahoma teams from our coverage area.
 

Lawton High
 

The Wolverines have performed well the past few seasons under coach Randy Breeze, making the 6A-II title game in twice since the division's inception in 2014. VYPE rewarded that success, ranking Lawton High fourth entering the season.


Although it is a high ranking, it isn't quite good enough to win the district championship in the preseason projections. VYPE gave Midwest City the nod this time, but it is not an outlandish pick.


The Bombers won the district last season, edging the Wolverines 20-17 at home, and it looks to be tight race against this year. 
 

If VYPE's standings come to fruition, Lawton could be looking at a fourth-straight playoff confrontation with Bixby, which has won three-straight state titles, two of which came against the Wolverines.
 

There is no question the Spartans have Lawton's number, outscoring the Wolverines by 52 points in the past three meetings. However, the gap seems to be closing. 
 

After falling to Bixby by 14 points in 2014 and by 20 points in 2015, Lawton narrowed the margin to eight points in a 39-31 loss to the Spartans in last season's championship game. This could be the year Breeze's squad ends the streak.
 

The Wolverines have to make it to Bixby first, though. In this scenario, their first-round opponent would be Sand Springs, which is slotted one spot below Lawton at No. 5.

 

The Sandites have won seven or more games in four of the past five seasons.
 

With star seniors Dominick Neal and Jayquan Lincoln anchoring the team, Lawton won't be an easy out for any team.


Neal and Lincoln are two of the top 100 players in the state, according to VYPE, and they are also listed on the All-VYPE 6A-II team as a receiver (Neal) and as an athlete (Lincoln), respectively.

 

Miles Davis also made the squad, representing the Wolverines as a defensive back.
 

MacArthur
 

The Highlanders have become a perennial powerhouse under the watchful eye of Brett Manning, compiling a record of 77-13 in the past seven seasons, six of which featured 10 or more wins.

 

Despite falling short the past two years, MacArthur is once again a favorite, ranking second in VYPE's Class 5A poll behind Bishop McGuinness, last season's runner-up. 
 

As expected, the Highlanders are the favorite to win 5A-1 for the third-straight year. Standing between MacArthur and district supremacy is Ardmore, which came in fourth in VYPE's ranking. 
 

The Tigers have become an annual rival of the Highlanders, with each of the past two meetings ending in one-point victories for Manning's team. In fact, Ardmore is the only team to defeat MacArthur in the regular season since 2014 -- a 27-22 decision.

 

If both teams hold serve this season, the district title will be decided on Nov. 3, the final week of the season.
 

If VYPE's predictions are correct, the Highlanders will entertain Guthrie in the opening round of the playoffs once again before working their way through Skiatook or Coweta to set up a colossal rematch with defending champion and VYPE No. 3 Carl Albert in the semifinals.
 

The Titans have become a regular playoff hurdle for MacArthur, and if the teams were to meet again this season, it would be the fourth-consecutive postseason matchup between the two.

 

Luckily the Highlanders get to see how they size up with McGuinness and Carl Albert in preseason scrimmages coming up in August.
 

Surprisingly, MacArthur didn't have any players make the VYPE Top 100, but that doesn't mean it isn't loaded with talent.
 

Offensively, senior Jarious McKnight represents the Highlanders as a receiver on the All-VYPE 5A team, and senior Rylan Webb earned recognition as one of the top linebackers in the class.
 

Altus and Duncan are in the district as well. The Bulldogs are anticipated to fill the final playoff spot for 5A-1, while the Demons' absence from the postseason is expected to extend to five seasons.
 

Eisenhower
 

The Eagles present possibly the biggest surprise of all Southwest Oklahoma teams. As noted in the magazine, Eisenhower hasn't had a winning season since 2010 (8-4), but according to VYPE, that is going to change this season.
 

The Eagles are unranked, but that was reasonably expected given the team's history. What wasn't foreseen, however, was Eisenhower's position in the district standings.
 

How does third place sound, Eagle fans? An improvement of that caliber is certainly unprecedented considering Mike Burris' bunch would have to nearly triple its win total from last season to land in such a good position. 
 

The biggest factor for the prediction is quarterback RJ Fisher.


The senior is one of 17 quarterbacks on the Top 100 list, and he is also the starter for the All-VYPE 5A team. His performance last season, which included more than 2,400 yards of production and 25 touchdowns, has people believing in the Eagles and their ability to rise back to prominence.
 

Should VYPE's bold prediction come true, Eisenhower would be matched up with Ardmore in the first round of the playoffs, which would be a tough matchup for any team in Class 5A. 
 

Fisher and the offense will need help from the defense, though. Last season, the Eagles gave up 56 points or more on four occasions.

 

However, two of those games came against juggernauts McGuinness (56) and Carl Albert (57).


If Eisenhower can hold its lower-tier district foes (Guthrie, Piedmont and Woodward) to minimal scoring opportunities, the offense, which averaged 38.2 points per game last year, could very well lead the Eagles to the postseason.

 

Eisenhower gave up more than 28 points per contest in losing efforts against those three teams in 2016.
 

Cache, Elgin eye 4A playoffs


One postseason move within the district has put Cache's playoff chances in jeopardy.
 

The Bulldogs have made the playoffs the past two years after a decade-plus absence, but VYPE predicts bad times will befall the program once again.

 

A year after a 6-5 season, the Bulldogs are slated to finish fifth in 4A-1, but first-year head coach Farron Griffith is getting plenty of good offseason work from his players, and he's confident they may surprise the experts.
 

What if I told you the team that will supposedly make the leap to replace them, Newcastle, has a record of 2-18 since 2015?

 

Unfortunately, that is the case.
 

The district turned upside down when former Southmoore assistant Jeff Brickman took the Racers' head coaching position, bringing star quarterback Casey Thompson with him.

 

Although games aren't won by one player, VYPE believes the addition of a Top 100 player will be enough to end Cache's resurgence as a playoff contender.
 

The Bulldogs travel to Newcastle for a regular season finale that is sure to be filled with high emotions if a spot to be among the final 16 teams is up for grabs. The Oct. 13 matchup with Weatherford at home will also have major playoff implications. VYPE has the Eagles finishing fourth in the district.
 

Look for All-VYPE 4A team selection Hayden Nunley to be a difference maker for the Bulldogs at running back and linebacker, where his great quickness is an asset.
 

Newcastle's acquisitions also impact Elgin.
 

The Owls haven't sniffed playoff ball since 2013, and they aren't figured to this season, either.

 

Jason Cunningham's crew finished in a three-way tie with Cache and Elk City for fourth place in 4A-1 last season, but point differential gave Cache the nod despite Elgin defeating the Bulldogs 8-7 in an overtime classic.
 

This year's four-way gauntlet involving Newcastle, Weatherford, Cache and the Owls for the district's final two spots in the bracket will be something to behold if VYPE's predictions bare fruit.

 

Elgin is the dark horse of the group, but with nine starters returning, experience could give the Owls the advantage they desire.
 

Around the area
 

Southwest Oklahoma has several teams in the smaller classes forecasted to make a run at not only the postseason, but also a state championship.
 

Leading the way for that honor is Tipton, the defending Class C champion. Despite that accolade, VYPE has the Tigers entering the season as the No. 2 team, behind only Pond Creek-Hunter. Tipton snuck by the Panthers in last year's championship game, 28-26. 


The Tigers have two representatives on the All-VYPE team for Class C -- offensive lineman Hunter Elliot and defensive back SemaJ McBride.
 

However, Tipton's district, C-2, is loaded with area teams targeting the champs.
 

Mt. View-Gotebo is the leading candidate to score the upset, coming in at No. 10 in the class and third in C-2. Temple is also expected to make it out of district play despite going only 1-9 last season.
 

Mangum leads the way in Class A, ranking fifth in the VYPE poll and first in District 2. Mike Wendt's team is coming off a 6-4 season, missing the playoffs for the fifth time since the turn of the decade.

 

Behind Mangum in A-2 is perennial power Hollis, coming in at No. 13 in the poll.
 

Hollis has reached the quarterfinals or further in three of the past four seasons, winning the title in 2013. Defensive end Moses Reyes highlights the Tigers' stout defense as an All-VYPE team selection.
 

Elsewhere in Class A, Apache is primed for another successful season, cracking the top 10 at No. 9 in the VYPE preseason rankings.

 

The Warriors are favored to take home the A-3 crown, and veteran coach Larry McDaniel has been upbeat about his club's improvement in the weight room.
 

Moving to Class 2A, Trey Norris and the No. 12 Hobart Bearcats are projected to finish second in District 3 behind Washington. Norris, a defensive lineman, is well-represented, making both the Top 100 list and the All-VYPE 2A team.
 

In Class B, Cyril is so respected, it was ranked twice in the preseason poll (yes, VYPE, I noticed that typo). For the sake of this column, though, I'm going use the highest ranking, which is No. 9. 
 

The Pirates, who are projected to win the District 3 title, are led by Top 100 pick and All-VYPE quarterback Josh Garza, a talented run-pass leader. It would be Cyril's fifth postseason berth in six seasons.


Carnegie is forecasted to make the playoffs alongside the Pirates as the third team out of B-3. Central High and Empire are also anticipated to move on past the regular season from their respective districts. Empire is a surprise pick, having won only one game since 2015.
 

VYPE showed favor to Marlow and Anadarko of Class 3A, electing to advance both squads out of District 3, which is headlined by No. 2 John Marshall. The No. 13 Outlaws are slated to finish second, whereas the Warriors are locked in at third.
 

The Pigskin Preview is great for prep junkies, but with this massive magazine being published so early in the summer, it is hard to get fully accurate information.
 

That is why the Constitution sports staff is already working hard to get district previews prepared with all the latest roster updates, which you can expect before the school year starts.
 

Get ready -- football is almost here, and this fanatic can't wait.

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