By Lee Coleman, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
There likely will be a playoff atmosphere at Garber tonight when the fifth-ranked Wolverines host second-ranked Pond Creek-Hunter in a District B-1 showdown.
The winner will find itself with a huge advantage in the chase to host a playoff game.
The Panthers (5-0, 4-0) knocked off Waukomis 52-6 last week, while the Wolverines (5-0, 4-0) shut out Seiling 46-0 to set the stage for tonight’s battle of undefeated teams.
“It is a big ballgame,” said Panthers head coach David Kerr. “It will be a big step for one of the home playoff berths. There is a lot of football left, but we are looking at this game as a big one for us.
“We are not satisfied being 5-0. Every week is tough in B-1 and our kids understand the magnitude of this game and the need to stay focused.”
Garber finds itself in the hunt for a playoff spot after missing the cut last season with a 4-6 record.
“Pond Creek is a good football team trying to get a home playoff game,” said Wolverines head coach Mark Harmon. “You have to go out and play them all and prepare for every game to be a district champion.
“We prepare the same way every week and hopefully, we can slow them down and make good things happen for us.
“We can do that by preparing for the things we can control. We like playing at home and it will be an advantage for us before it’s all over.”
Harmon said Garber’s improvement from last year is the result of effort.
“Everybody has done a lot better this season,” he said. “We are a whole lot better football team and that all started in the summer.
“We have done it through old-fashioned hard work and the kids are buying in. Football is real big here in Garber and that puts a lot of pressure on the kids to perform well.”
Pond Creek-Hunter senior running back Brady Krittenbrink has been a force, rushing for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Josh Irvin has been solid after replacing Zach Rayner, who injured his elbow, throwing for 471 yards and four touchdowns.
“We have been studying well and watching a lot of film to get ready for them,” said Harmon. “We have tried to get rid of any surprises, be ready and be good students of the game.”
Garber counters with 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior quarterback Jordan Avants. Avants has rushed for 902 yards with 19 touchdowns, and passed for 927 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Garber has been impressive,” said Kerr. “They have looked good, and Garber is a tough place to play. We’ll go out and see what happens.
“Avants breaks a lot of tackles, so we’ll have to wrap him up and get some help. We need to fly to the football and try to contain him and not let him go off on us and break big plays. It will take a team effort on our part.”
With the playoffs five weeks away, both coaches acknowledged the importance of the game.
“I’m enjoying this season,” Kerr said. “I like our attitudes and they are a fun group to be around. These guys prepare very well and they are having a good time.
“Our goals are in front of us and winning the district is the first step. We have some tough games ahead. We have to play our game and try to control it.
“Special teams could be big in this game. We have to be prepared and hopefully, things will come out in our favor.”
Harmon boiled it all down to basics.
“We have to have more points than they do,” he said. “We will do what we do and they will do what they do.
“We have to have some maturity to get into the playoffs. Good athletes make good plays.”