The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 6, 2013

Waukomis looks to end season on winning note

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Waukomis (3-6, 2-6, District B-1) hosts Canton (2-7, 1-7) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the season finale with a chance to end the season with wins in three of its last four games.

“It gives you a positive spin if you win the last game,’’ said Chiefs head coach Jon Claborn. “I think it’s a big game for both teams. We’re pretty even.’’

Claborn put Canton in the middle tier of the B-1 schedule with Seiling, Merritt and Ringwood, all of whom defeated the Chiefs this season.

The Tigers, like Waukomis, depend heavily on sophomores, including strong-armed quarterback M.J. White Eagle.

“I think we have won the games we’re supposed to have won (Kremlin-Hillsdale, Covington-Douglas and Medford),’’ Claborn said.

“They (Canton) beat us badly last year (42-0) and they had good scores (in losses) against Laverne (38-14) and Seiling (28-24). We see this as a way to get that signature win.’’

The Tigers pass more than any team in B-1 with the possible exception of Covington-Douglas, Claborn said.

The Wildcats threw for 183 yards against the Chiefs, but Waukomis had three interceptions. The Chiefs have 12 interceptions with every defensive back having at least one pickoff.

“We’re going to have to pressure him and play well in the back end,’’ Claborn said. “We have done a good job of winning the turnover margin lately.’’

Waukomis has forced eight turnovers over the last three weeks and has not thrown an interception. They have lost five fumbles.

“Staying clean will keep you in the game longer,’’ Claborn said.

Over the last three weeks, the Chiefs have 477 yards rushing and have averaged 58 points per game. They have allowed 38.7 points, an improvement over the 59.1 points they allowed the first six games of the season.

Claborn attributes that to an easier schedule and the team’s maturity.

“I think our kids are starting to figure things out,’’ Claborn said. “We have 19 games now under our system, the young linemen are starting to develop. Our schedule was top-heavy early. We were more even with the teams we played in the second-half of the season. The kids have played well.’’

Fullback Ryan Coontz, the lead blocker for tailback Gage McCartney, has shown particular improvement. Coontz is playing at 100 percent again after coming off ACL surgery the year before.

“Anybody coming back from surgery is tentative early,’’ Claborn said. “He’s caught-up conditioning-wise. He’s been a big part in what we have been able to do as Gage’s lead blocker.’’

McCartney had touchdown runs of eight and 10 yards and caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Justus Crites in a 52-20 win over Medford last week.

“He’s a good work-horse guy,’’ Claborn said. “He doesn’t always look to bounce outside. He’s happy to be a slasher. With a back like him, you want to get the ball and move the yard markers and run the clock. You don’t have to break it every play. He’s starting to understand that.’’

Crites had a 65-yard punt return and an 80-yard scoring run against the Cardinals as he continues to be a big play threat.

“He’s been tackled, but I don’t think he’s been caught this year,’’ Claborn said. “He gets out in the open as quickly as anyone chasing him.’’

It will be the final game for five seniors — Dustin Breeze, Devon Webster, Austin Thorlton, Adonis Pace and Tim Sheets.

“They are a group of program guys,’’ Claborn said. “They have matured from when I first met them. They have become more accountable and have figured out what seniors are supposed to do.’’

Sheets had a special moment when the lineman ran for a two-point conversion against Medford. He didn’t come out until last spring, but had been the ultimate team player while serving on the scout team.

“He’s a guy who you need in the program,’’ Claborn said. “He’s improved on every snap of every practice. He’s never asked for anything. He lost a lot of weight in getting in shape. He’s a guy who proves high school football is more than X’s and O’s. Football has been good to Tim, and Tim has been good to the Chiefs. I hope it proved to the other guys that hard work will be rewarded.”

Canton has won the last three meetings by a combined score of 140-26.

A victory would give Waukomis its most wins in a season since a 5-5 mark in 2007.