The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


November 2, 2012

EHS has tough task in season finale

ENID, Okla. — Enid will be looking to carry some momentum from last week’s 49-21 win over Stillwater, which snapped a six-game losing streak, into its season finale at 7:30 tonight at Sand Springs.

The Plainsmen (3-6, 1-5) put together one of their best performances of the season in defeating the Pioneers, dominating Stillwater on both sides of the ball in securing their first district win of the season.

“It was nice to finally have some reward for the kids,” said Enid head coach Steve Chard. “They’ve continued to work hard through this tough stretch.”

It also provided the players with a boost of confidence as they venture on the road for the last time this season to take on No. 9 Sand Springs (7-2, 4-2), a squad that has locked up third place in 6A-1 and a likely playoff appearance against Broken Arrow.

“I think some kids were able to see some success and some doubt was pushed out of their mind,” Chard said. “Kids are kids and they’ve got to see it to believe it. You have to see the results and then back it up with a win before you can say ‘I know I can do it.’”

One of the players who stepped it up last week was junior fullback Raeshaan Finley, who rushed for a career-high 104 yards and was responsible for all 80 yards in Enid’s final scoring drive against Stillwater, including rushing for the final touchdown.

“He had the best game of his career and that was great to see,” Chad said. “He’s polite, comes to work every day and does his job. He just hasn’t done as good in games as we think he could, and it was great to see him do that (against Stillwater).”

Meanwhile, the Sandites, after starting the season 6-1 have lost two of their last three games, including last week’s 52-33 loss to Owasso as the Rams clinched the district title with the victory, ending Union’s 14-year reign as district champs.

Sand Springs’ loss to Owasso followed a 41-27 win over Stillwater and a 59-7 loss to Union.

“It’s a tall order,” said Chard regarding tonight’s matchup. “They’re (Sand Springs) good. They don’t want to limp into the playoffs with two straight losses.”

Chard also sees some similarities between last year’s Sand Springs team and this year’s Enid squad.

“They kind of went through a season last year like we had this year,” Chard said. “They were a pretty good team that didn’t get a lot of breaks and didn’t make plays when they needed to.”

Sand Springs finished 3-7 in 2011, with five of their losses by seven or fewer points.

“The fact they’re 7-2 says a lot about their players and coaches,” Chard said. “They’re not head-and-shoulders above everybody else talent-wise, but they have good kids and coaches.”

A major concern for Enid on head coach Dustin Kinard’s team will be junior quarterback Cody Hale, the Sandites’ only non-senior skill player on offense,  who has thrown for 1,959 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. His favorite target has been senior wide receiver Cody Hilderbrandt,who has 10 touchdowns and is averaging 25 yards per catch.

Hale left the Owasso game late in the fourth quarter with a deep thigh bruise, but is expected back tonight

“We have a lot of good quarterbacks in our league and he (Hale) is no exception,” Chard said. “And Hilderbrandt has gone deep on everybody, but we take pride in the fact we haven’t given up many deep balls. We have good corners, but we have to stop the run off-tackle first.”

The Sandites’ rushing attack is led by Raymond McLauren, who rushed for over 100 yards and three touchdowns in Sand Springs’ win over Stillwater.

 McLauren has rushed for 880 yards this season and 11 touchdowns.

“We have put in a few different looks in the back end and adapted some stuff to fit their scheme a little better,” Chard said. “All the things on the back end on depend on the guys in the box stopping the run.”

The Plainsmen will be looking to establish the run against Sand Springs after racking up 469 yards on the ground last week against the Pioneers, led by senior Seth “Popeye” Handley’s 336 yards, the second-highest single-game rushing total.

Handley also owns the top mark with 377 yards and occupies four of the top 10 single-game rushing totals in Plainsmen history as well as currently ranking fourth all-time in career yards. He has 1,232 yards rushing this season entering tonight’s game, which currently ranks sixth all-time for rushing yards in a season, and is only two yards behind fifth-place Jonathan Burton.

“We’re going to look to establish the run,” Chard said. “We feel what we do well doesn’t fit with what they do well. They run a 3-4 and we do some things that may make them uncomfortable. We line up with a tight end and a fullback and in an I-formation, which is a lost art.”

Finley’s development last week gives Chard added confidence in Enid’s running game.

“Really, we have two guys that we feel comfortable with,” he said.

After a long, tough season, Chard would like nothing better than to end on a winning note, but points out the dichotomy of such a scenario.

“It’s kind of a funny way to look at it,” Chard said. “Really, the only way to end your season with a win is by winning a championship or by not making the playoffs and winning your last game of the season.”

But Chard, while acknowledging the disappointment of not making the playoffs, believes the season has set a positive tone for the future.

“A work ethic and the way things are going to be done has been established,” he said. “Kids know what is expected in the weight room and in the schoolhouse and they are going to be accountable in all things.

I really appreciate our (coaching) staff in that regard. I can promise you if our staff had shown one bit of complacency in that tough stretch that we had, the kids would have followed suit and done the same thing. Our staff didn’t do that, and our kids certainly didn’t either.”

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