By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Don’t expect Fairview — 6-0 for the first time since 2001 — to be looking ahead to next week’s District A-1 showdown against Texhoma when the Yellowjackets visit Mooreland Friday.
One reason is the Bearcats are 5-1, only losing to Texhoma 42-6 on Sept. 28. The other is the Bearcats crushed the Yellowjackets 41-14 two years ago.
Humility is remembering that 2-8 season of 2010.
“They bloodied our nose pretty good,’’ said Fairview coach Chris Cayot. “It wasn’t long good that we were taking some good beatings from people that we are beating this year. That makes it easy to put things in perspective.’’
The senior-dominated Yellowjackets are a mature team, Cayot said, with a blue-collar attitude.
“We’re just executing and taking care of business,’’ Cayot said. “The kids are doing what we ask them to do.’’
The Yellowjackets’ camaraderie reminds Cayot of the 1990 Okeene team he quarterbacked to the Class A state finals.
“”The biggest thing about these kids is they just get along and play hard for each other more than any team I’ve ever coached,’’ Cayot, a 15-year coaching veteran, said. “They have a lot of fun.’’
The team’s numbers indicate they are having a lot of fun.
Fairview is averaging 50.6 points per game, 170.3 yards a game rushing and 259.5 yards per game passing. They have allowed only 6.2 points per game and only 241.83 yards per game.
The Yellowjackets are known for the big strike. They had two punt returns for touchdowns (Bryce Kippenberger, 65 and Brett Fast, 55) against Hooker and two one-play drives for scores.
Grant Nightengale had touchdown runs of 36 and 89 yards and had scoring passes of 52 yards to Ross Smith and 46 and 13 yards to Michael Christopher.
“It adds up pretty quick,’’ Cayot said. “We do things at our own pace, our own way. Right now, we’re throwing the ball well, catching the ball well and protecting the quarterback well. We can get on a roll pretty quick.’’
Nightengale has completed 104 of 153 passes for 1,402 yards and 15 touchdowns with one interception. He’s rushed for 533 yards on 51 carries for a 10.45 yard per carry average and 10 touchdowns.
Nightengale has been a good student of the game, Cayot said, taking what defenses give him. The Yellowjackets simpflied their playbook which has freed up the offense.
“He can find the soft spot and attack it,’’ Cayot said.
Christopher leads the Yellowjackets in receptions with 20 catches for 355 yards and four touchdowns. Nightengale has spread it out well among the other receivers.
Four others have 10 or more receptions — Ross Smith (13 for 260 yards and 5 TDs), Bryce Kippenberger (16 for 249 yards and 3 TDs), Jensen Smith (14 for 202 yards and one touchdown) and Joel Kliewer (12 for 118 yards). Smith caught three TD passes in a 31-12 win over Tonkawa Sept. 14 when he was in the right matchup, Cayot said.
Kippenberger, a transfer from Hennessey, has given Fairview some more options.
“It’s tough for people to try to match up with Michael and still keep track of where the other guys are,’’ Cayot said. “We have gone to a different type of passing system. It’s simpler. It’s not surprising we’re executing better.’’
Kliewer has been solid at running back with 197 yards on 40 carries for a 4.9 average. He scored on a pair of one-yard runs against Hooker.
The line of senior center Tim Regier, junior guards Joseph Stephens and Caleb Neufeld and junior tackles Dylan Morton and Hunter Kahn has graded high each week. Brandon Lowder and Zach Smith add depth.
“Basically, we rotate everybody except the center and quarterback,’’ Cayot said. “We don’t drop off much. We can play anywhere from 18 to 20 kids and rotate them enough where nobody gets tired.’’
Regier, who leads the team in tackles with 59, is the most valuable player on defense. He not only makes the calls for the offensive line blocking schemes, but calls the defensive signals.
Kliewer, a sophomore, has been a pleasant surprise at both running back and strong safety where he is second in tackles with 52.
They are followed by Lowder with 43, Fast with 34, Christopher with 26, Neufeld with 22, Kippenberger with 21 and Smith with 20.
“The (assistant) coaches have done a great job of getting the kids ready to play,’’ Cayot said.
Cayot said he was proud of how the Jackets were able to slow down Hooker’s Joe Bean last week. Hooker came into the game averaging 48.2 points per game. Fairview was the first team to hold the Bulldogs to under 26 points in a game.
“We did a good job limiting them in what they did,’’ Cayot said.
Fairview is ranked No. 12 in this week’s AP poll. A win Friday would give the Yellowjackets the most wins since a 7-4 season in 2006.
The Fairview-Mooreland series is tied 4-4 since 1976. Fairview won last year’s game, 49-14.