By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Fairview 63, Pioneer 8.
That score from last year’s game serves as motivation for Pioneer wide receiver-safety Blake Gabriel for tonight’s rematch at Mustang Field to open the 2013 season for both teams.
“It was definitely a letdown because we were really wanting to win,’’ Gabriel said. “To get beat like that was embarrassing ... we knew they had a really good team, but getting beat like that does affect your confidence a little bit.’’
Fairview’s Grant Nightengale took his first steps toward winning the News & Eagle Northwest Oklahoma Player of the Year by scoring five touchdowns and hitting Brett Fast with a 50-yard scoring pass in that game.
The Yellowjackets were up 28-0 after the first period and 48-8 at halftime. Pioneer was down 34-0 before Gabriel scored on an 85-yard pass from Jett Jobe.
“If anything, it’s an advantage for Pioneer, I’m sure that will give them some motivation,’’ said Fairview coach Chris Cayot. “It was one of those deals where we made a few things happen and it was a snowball deal for Pioneer ...the first quarter was a coach’s nightmare for them.’’
Pioneer coach Kurt Myers can second that.
“They were really good,’’ Myers said. “They came out fast and we turned the ball over to them and gave them a short field. You can’t do that against teams like Fairview.’’
Fairview was effective with both the read option (298 yards rushing) and Nightengale’s arm (210 yards passing).
“They attack you with what you give them,’’ Myers said.
“We’ve got to play within our scheme and not make mistakes.’’
Nightengale has graduated, but the offense hasn’t changed with junior Jaden Dillard at the controls.
“He has to get better on the accuracy of his throws,’’ Cayot said of Dillard. “In our offense, you have to throw the ball in little spots, that’s something Grant had gotten real good in. Jaden is getting better every day. He works extremely hard and is extremely coachable. He’s really made a lot of strides because of that.’’
Fairview returns four starters in the offensive line and Fast is back at receiver. Cayot said Nightengale’s biggest asset was his ability to spread the ball around.
Defensively, the Yellowjackets are led by returnees Fast, Hunter Kahn, Caleb Neufeld and Joseph Stephens, who is coming off an injury.
“Our young kids have been coming along well,’’ Cayot said. “That has allowed us to progress and maybe work on some things we didn’t think we would be working on yet.’’
Pioneer lost its first seven games a year ago, partially due to a brutal schedule that Myers called “the toughest in the state.’’
Gabriel said he welcomes a tough opener and is optimistic about 2013.
“Everyone is having a lot more fun,’’ Gabriel said. “We’re flying around on defense. Everybody is more upbeat than they have been in the past. Hopefully, that translates into wins.
“This is the year I’ve been waiting for. It’s definitely different being the senior leader. Stopping the read option will be a big key against Fairview. We will need to establish the run and open up the passing game. We hurt ourselves with turnovers (against Fairview) last year, but the read option was a big play for them.’’
Myers said the opener “is pretty important, but not the end of the earth ... you want to come out and play well, but you have nine games after that ... we’re not about moral victories, we want that win on the scoreboard, but in the end we want to know we left everything out on the field.’’
The Pioneer offensive starters will be Dalton Snow at center, John Fuxa at left guard, Dom Benites or Gage Huffman at right guard, Cody Smith at left tackle, Hunter Lamle at right tackle, Charles Clardy at tight end, Gabriel and Bucko Gray at wide receivers, Jerry Green at fullback, Chase Courter at tailback and Collin Mason at quarterback.
Starting on defense will be Clardy and Snow at ends, Lamle at nose guard, Benites at tackle. Green at SAM linebacker, Jerry Don Valtr at middle linebacker, Cole Hammock at WILLIE linebacker, Stephen Rich and Chance Tucker at corners and Courter and Gabriel at safeties.
The game can be heard on KXLS (95.7 FM).