By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Coming into tonight’s season finale against Sand Springs at 7 p.m. at Selby Stadium, the Enid Plainsmen (3-6, 2-4) hoped to be playing for a potential playoff spot on Senior Night. However, last week’s 43-27 loss to Stillwater, combined with the Sandites’ upset win over Owasso, torpedoed those hopes. While the playoffs are off the table once again — the Plainsmen have not appeared in the postseason since 2009 — that doesn’t mean tonight’s District 6A-1 game is without meaning.
There is a little matter of pride, not to mention the Sandites (5-4, 4-2) are not content now that they appear to have clinched a playoff spot as a win tonight could secure second-place in the district behind Union, guaranteeing Sand Springs a home playoff game.
Enid head coach Steve Chard said the team is ready to put the frustration of last week’s loss behind them and finish off the season on a positive note.
“We’ve had a great week of practice, which I really appreciate our staff and players for, and how well they have worked in the weight room in the mornings and practiced this week knowing that we’re eliminated,” Chard said. “It’s a tribute to the pride these kids have.”
Preparation was a key issue, Chard said, in the Plainsmen’s loss to Stillwater.
“I didn’t have a good feeling before the game,” he said. “I didn’t think we prepared quite like I would have liked as far as when we got there (to Stillwater) in having our game face on. (We) played better in the second half, but we still would like to play better defense and that was not good defense, especially in Week 9.”
The team missed the presence of Stephen Hocker, who will miss tonight’s game as well due to being suspended following his ejection in the Owasso game, further limiting the Plainsmen’s options on an already-light defensive line.
The Plainsmen defensive line weighs around 175 pounds on average in the box, presenting a significant challenge they have had to endure most of the season.
“We don’t have a lot of depth on the D-line and the physics of (being outweighed) got in our way and I think in Week 9 it kind of caught up with us,” Chard. Three Stillwater players rushed for over 100 yards last week.
But being outweighed hasn’t been a challenge the team has backed down from this season.
“The fact we’re fighting it out at 175 pounds shows you how much guts and how much I appreciate these players we do have,” Chard said. “It’s not their fault they’re not 260.”
Chard pointed to the effort of senior linebacker Isiah Singleton, who despite being listed at a generous 5-10, 200 pounds, has fought off double teams all season from players who significantly outweigh him.
“He gets doubled, and it will happen again (tonight),” Chard said. “He’ll duke it out and make 10 tackles and have a good game.”
Singleton is seventh on the team with 55 tackles this season.
Tonight, the Plainsmen will be facing a Sand Springs team averaging 34 points per game, but also yielding 34.2 points per game and coming off an impressive 38-21 win over Owasso, led by quarterback Cody Hale who has passed for 2,283 yards and 19 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Hale passed for 185 yards last week, while Tre Betts rushed for 136 yards on 12 carries, including a 53-yard touchdown. Betts plays at receiver, defensive back and running back as several of Sand Springs’ skill players do. Betts has 778 combined offensive yards this season and nine touchdowns.
Enid will counter with some hot quarterback play of its own in a game that figures to offer plenty of offense, as junior Frederick Lawrence has hit his stride the last few weeks and is playing well, including throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns last week, in addition to one rushing touchdown.
Senior Night: Tonight will be the final game for 21 senior members of the Enid Plainsmen who will be honored in pregame ceremonies, and Chard recognizes the bittersweet moment tonight offers his senior players.
“Not everyone gets to play tackle football,” Chard said. “Most kids, when they are seniors, that’s the last time they are ever going to do it. It’s not like when you get old you are going to go and play a pickup game of football in full pads. It’s not like basketball or golf or tennis where you can play your whole life. This is it for a lot of them to ever play real football, and to me that’s enough to want to play hard. I really appreciate the work they have put in.”
The senior members of the Plainsmen are: Aaron Beagle, Mason Camp, Sam Clemens, Christopher Daniels, Mason Dillard, Bates Enmeier, Raeshaan Finley, Caleb Harris, Stephen Hocker, Alex Lofton, Marshawn Mills, Taylen Rowley, Tony Salcido, Kirby Scott, Isiah Singleton, Parker Sommers, Christian Voitik, Reece Wagoner, Tristan Washington, Traven Watkins and Markell Windler.
Retiring: After 37 years with the Enid football program, assistant coach Keith Lea is retiring and will be recognized before tonight’s game for the years of stalwart service he has given to the program. Lea has been a mainstay of Enid football, including coaching on the 1983 state championship team and has served as the outside linebackers coach this season.
By the numbers: Heading into tonight’s season finale, Lawrence has already worked his way onto several Plainsmen single-season top 10 lists.
Lawrence currently is tied for third with Connor Daugherty at 127 completions and would need only 15 more in tonight’s game to claim second-place, passing Austin Box. Lawrence also is fifth in single-season passing yards with 1,703; ninth in attempts at 225 and second in completion percentage at .564 … Raheem Mitchell is second in rushing in Class 6A with 1,020 yards … Camp currently is tied for third in the Plainsmen record books in single-season field goals with six, which also places him seventh on the Enid career list.ó