The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


September 26, 2013

EHS looks to break Bartlesville hex

ENID, Okla. — Enid will be looking to exorcise the ghosts of the past three games against Bartlesville, when the Plainsmen welcome the Bruins for homecoming at 7 p.m. Friday at D. Bruce Selby Stadium in the district opener for both teams.

Bartlesville eliminated the Plainsmen from playoff contention in 2010 with a 28-9 win in the last game of the season, then followed that up with a late rally in a 54-49 win in 2011 in the final game that again kept Enid out of the postseason. But that wasn’t the end of the Bartlesville hex.  

The Bruins delivered more heartache to the Plainsmen last season when Enid surrendered a 42-30 lead with under three minutes left and stunned Enid with a 44-42 win on the last play of the game. It also overshadowed a six-touchdown performance that night by Enid quarterback Chance Pryor, who now is playing for St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

The image of Calan Crowder’s diving touchdown catch from Stephen Cochran to win the game has remained indelibly etched in the memories of the Plainsmen.

After that game, Enid head coach Steve Chard, in his first year, said it was the “kind of loss that makes you sick to your stomach.”

The players who were there last year haven’t forgotten.

 “This one is personal because of the way they came back on us last year,” said Enid quarterback Frederick Lawrence earlier this week after practice.

Lawrence, then a sophomore, wasn’t a starter, but that doesn’t mean he felt the loss any less. “I want it (a win) just as much or more than any senior on this team,” he said.

Chard said the team certainly remembers, but isn’t dwelling on it.

“They are well aware,” Chard said. “I told them ‘surely you guys don’t have to be reminded how the game went down at the end and if that’s me, I can’t wait to get back on the field and get back at those guys.’

“We don’t have to motivate them to play. They had a great week of practice and I only mentioned it one time. Once the game starts, all that is out the window. Every game is different. It’s a different set of players. The biggest thing is if we win, we are 1-0 in district.”

It is a different Bartlesville team that comes into Selby Friday than Enid faced last season. Protagonists Crowder and Cochran have left, and the Bruins have a sophomore, Colton Penrod, at quarterback. They also start several sophomores at other key positions. The young Bruins are 2-1 on the season, but have feasted on a steady diet of 5A competition with their wins coming over Tulsa East Central and Skiatook (41-10 last week), two teams that are a combined 0-6 on the season. They lost to Bishop Kelley in the season-opener.

By contrast, the Plainsmen have played a fairly challenging pre-district schedule that included a road win over Edmond Memorial sandwiched between losses to surprising Choctaw, which is 2-1 on this season, and 5A top dog Guthrie. Enid’s opponents have a combined record of 7-2.

But Chard cautions not to take this Bartlesville team lightly based on their early season schedule.

“They’re used to playing 6A (teams),” Chard said. “They did well last year.”  

But the Plainsmen offer better athletes than what the Bruins have faced this year, including a ball-hawking secondary that has six picks, which should be bolstered further by the return of Alex Lofton who missed last week’s game with a sprained ankle. The secondary will challenge the Bruins’ young quarterback, who passed for 288 yards and four touchdowns last week.

The Plainsmen will look to get pressure on Penrod. The Bruins typically go with an empty backfield and Penrod has shown escape ability.

The Bruins also have a weapon in senior Slade Nordic, who is a dangerous wide receiver but also can carry the ball and plays a good bit at defensive back. Chard said Nordic is similar in some respects to Guthrie’s Kai Callins, who rushed for 179 yards last week and scored two touchdowns.

“They (Bartlesville) have four good receivers, but he’s their best one,” Chard said. “He’s real fast, he’s all over the field and plays like Callins. He’s not quite there, but he’s close. He’s a college player.”

Nordic had 110 yards receiving and returned a punt for a touchdown against Skiatook.

The Plainsmen offensive game plan may show a little more diversity as the team opens up the playbook a bit more. Chard said the team would like to possess the ball and run about 35 rushing plays, taking advantage of its emerging weapons, including junior tailback Raheem Mitchell.

Mitchell had a highlight reel 80-yard touchdown on a screen pass last week and leads Enid in both rushing with 330 yards and three touchdowns, and 160 yards and one touchdown receiving.

 “He has that special gear when he gets in the open,” Chard said. Senior Aaron Beagle, “the man with the hands” according to Lawrence, leads the Plainsmen with 16 receptions.

Lawrence has passed for 652 yards and one touchdown this season, while also rushing for three scores, and the coaching staff continues to be happy with his progression in his first year starting.

“Fred had a great game last week,” Chard said. “He took everything they gave him.’’

Lawrence was 16-for-27 with 248 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Guthrie.

An intriguing area to watch tonight will be on kickoffs. The Plainsmen kicked short last week to keep the ball away from Callins, but it often resulted in Guthrie setting up in Enid territory. This week Bartlesville will offer a different dilemma on kickoffs.

“They will onside kick every time,” Chard said. “They will score and be up 20-0 and kick it onside, it’s just what they do and they do it real well. So that’s the first thing we (did) in practice this week is working against their onside stuff.”

Chard expects a typical hard-fought district contest. “I’m sure it will be a knockdown, drag-out,” he said. “I fully expect that.”

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