By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
How dominant has Kingfisher been in the first round of the playoffs?
The Yellowjacket seniors hadn’t even started school the last time Kingfisher dropped a first-round playoff game (29-0 to Pauls Valley in 2000).
The No. 2-ranked Yellowjackets (10-0) will be going for their 13th straight opening-round win when they host 6-4 Purcell at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Kingfisher has reached the finals four of the last six years and the semifinals six of the last seven. It has lost in the second round only three times since 2001.
“That’s something not a lot of people in the state can say at any level,’’ said Kingfisher head coach Jeff Myers, who took over the program in 2004.
Myers and the Yellowjackets are accustomed to the question of when are they finally going to get another gold ball to join the one they claimed in 2003.
“We get asked that question more and more the further we go into the playoffs,’’ Myers said. “We tell them we have the same goal every year. The state championship is our ultimate goal, but you can’t take away the success the kids have had.’’
The Yellowjackets completed an undefeated season by beating Marlow 34-7 in a non-district game Friday. That was the closest game Kingfisher has had this season. The next closest was a 31-0 win over Hennessey Sept. 20.
“It’s tough to go 10-0,’’ Myers said. “To do it two years in a row says a lot for our kids. I hope we can continue the tradition and make a good run in the playoffs.’’
The Yellowjackets have put up impressive numbers.
Landon Nault has rushed for 1,684 yards and 34 touchdowns. Nick Smith rushed for 743 yards and seven scores.
Docker Haub and Tucker Arrington, who have shared the quarterback’s job, combined to throw for 1,106 yards and eight touchdowns and have rushed for 466 yards and nine scores.
Marlow was the only opponent to run for more than 100 yards (113) against the Kingfisher defense. They held seven opponents to under 100 yards passing.
They intercepted 20 passes and recovered nine fumbles. They only had three interceptions and five fumbles for a plus-21 giveaway-takeaway margin.
Kingfisher comes into the playoffs “as healthy as we have been all season,” according to Myers.
The biggest opponent for Kingfisher could still be itself. The Yellowjackets’ one weakness has been penalties.
“We have to work on our discipline,’’ Myers said. “Penalties are killing us. We left a lot of points on the field because of penalties on plays. That’s something you can’t do in the playoffs. It’s nothing that can’t be corrected.’’
Kingfisher still outscored opponents 489-67.
“There’s some luck involved,’’ Myers said. “You just try to stay as focused as possible and not make stupid mistakes. You have to use your head.’’
Kingfisher’s opening-round playoff opponent, Purcell, also has a rich tradition. Milt Bassett, Myers’ father-in-law, coached the Dragons to a state championship in 1972.
“It’s always a program that has been thought of highly,’’ Myers said. “A lot of good athletes have come out of there.’’
Three of Purcell’s losses came in District 3A-4 play — 29-6 to No. 5 Plainview, 56-40 to No. 11 Lone Grove and 27-7 to Sulphur. Purcell fell to 2A power Washington 15-13 the second week of the season.
The Dragons have a couple of 300-pounders in their line and a solid passer in Drew Rolin and a top-flight running back in Dominque Garcia.
“I think we match up well,’’ Myers said. “We need to use our speed to our advantage and keep playing sound defense like we have. It’s going to be a challenge, but for the most part, our secondary has done a really good job this year.’’
Kingfisher, with a win, would host the Cushing-Jones winner on Nov. 22.