The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 18, 2013

Kingfisher ready for another shot at 3A football crown

ENID, Okla. — Blanchard 28, Kingfisher 21.

For one year and 11 days, the Yellowjackets have lived with the memory of last year’s Class 3A state championship game loss to the Lions — the school’s fourth loss in a title game in the past seven years.

But revenge and redemption are two words not in Kingfisher’s dictionary when the two unbeatens (Blanchard 13-0 and Kingfisher 14-0) meet in a title rematch at 7 tonight at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.

“It’s still a matter of going out and playing your game and not making mistakes,’’ said Yellowjackets head coach Jeff Myers. “If you do that, everything falls into place.’’

Mistakes were costly to the Yellowjackets in last year’s game. Kingfisher had four turnovers — two interceptions and two fumbles — and were flagged 13 times for 108 yards in penalties.

“We made some mental mistakes that were uncharacteristic of us,’’ Myers said. “We felt we let that one slip away. Blanchard outplayed us. You have to give them credit. They were ready to play and we didn’t. We can change that.’’

Myers is 110-25 in his 10 seasons at Kingfisher, but is 0-4 in championship games. The Yellowjacket senior class is 47-7, but 0-2 in title games.

“When you lose that final game, it sticks in your craw for a long time,’’ Myers said. “Last year was no different than 2007 (a 21-16 last-minute loss to Clinton). I’ve been blessed to part of a program that has been a successful year-in and year-out, but the gold ball is the ultimate goal. That never changes. We have just come up short.’’

Kingfisher had tied last year’s game at 21 when the now-graduated Grant Newton scored on a one-yard run with 7:15 remaining. Fourteen seconds later, the Lions’ Braden Stringer ran 58 yards for the winning score.

“I think it made it a little sweeter and more interesting (with) Blanchard making it (to the finals) as well,’’ Myers said. “They are just like us — they’re hard-nosed and get after it. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. We respect them and I’m sure they respect us. There’s a lot of similarities between us.’’

Both have standout running backs — Kingfisher’s Landon Nault has rushed for 2,266 yards and 45 touchdowns, while averaging 8.6 yards per carry. Stringer has rushed for 3,042 yards and 43 scores while averaging 10.6 yards per carry.

Both have productive quarterbacks — Docker Haub has hit on 43 of 69 passes for 596 yards and 12 scores and only two interceptions. He’s rushed for 414 yards and five scores.

Blanchard’s Blake Owen has completed 54 of 92 passes for 945 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions. He’s rushed for 816 yards and nine scores, and had 55 yards rushing on Blanchard’s game-winning drive in a 20-17 win over Plainview last week.

Kingfisher’s defense has forced 20 turnovers in playoff wins over Purcell, 52-9; Jones, 48-0; Beggs, 46-8 and Seminole, 32-14. The latter was the closest game the Yellowjackets have had this season. They have outscored opponents 667-90.

Blanchard has outscored opponents 550-143, including playoff wins over Perkins-Tryon, 76-13; Newcastle, 41-0; Lincoln Christian, 41-13; and Plainview.

“That’s (turnovers) been a huge factor for us,’’ Myers said. “We have been able to capitalize on them.’’

Wendell Prim has seven interceptions for the Yellowjackets. Nick Smith has six. Brady Smith and Nault have three apiece.

Kaden Jackson (9) and Jace Sternberger (5) have combined for 14 quarterback sacks for Kingfisher. Linebackers Dylan Blundell and Tristan Ransom have 87 and 85 tackles respectively.

“There’s not anybody that’s a superstar,’’ Myers said of his defense,”but they all go in and get it done. They play hard and together.’’

Blanchard’s defense is led by Jalan Daniels and D.J. Williams, who have 133 and 98 tackles respectively. Trevor Harrison has five interceptions.

Myers said chemistry has been a key to the 2013 seniors success. Nault, a finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman, is unassuming and “would be fine without the publicity.’’

“They had always had the same goals,’’ Myers said. “There was no jealously of the attention Landon was getting. This (three finals) is simply a reward for the time and effort they put in.’’

Myers welcomed the game being moved up to today from Saturday because of weather concerns.

“I’m happy we didn’t have two more days to think about it,’’ he said. “The weather will be awesome. It’s like playing in mid-October again.’’

It will be the fourth time Kingfisher has played at OSU’s 60,000-seat stadium in the last five years.

“I would like to say being there before to a certain extent is an advantage,’’ Myers said. “But you still have to line up and play. It’s still just another game ... only this time it’s the accumulation of the season. You do get caught up in a huge venue a little. We’re happy that OSU allows us to do that.’’

The game will be televised by FOX Sports Oklahoma.

“Our kids have done (TV) interviews before,’’ Myers said. “Once you get out there and playing, you don’t realize you’re on TV. I don’t think it will have an affect on us.’’

The four silver balls are an excellent accomplishment that will be appreciated later on. For the moment, they remind Myers of all the near-misses.

“It (championship loss) stays with you,’’ Myers said. “I think about it constantly. It’s something I have in the back of my head all the time.

“We started with summer pride in the first week of June and now it’s Dec. 19. The football season has lasted the entire summer. It’s a long grind, but they have done everything we have asked of them. Hopefully, we can finish it up. There’s nothing like a state championship.’’

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