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Enid defensive players take advantage of a fan on the sideline against Ponca City Saturday, September 4, 2021, at D. Bruce Selby Stadium. 

ENID, Okla. — The Plainsmen will be using their bye week to get healthy as they prepare for a tough seven-game stretch to close out the season.

Enid was 2-0 last season heading into the bye week before dropping a game on the road to Lawton MacArthur, which began a streak of three straight losses. The circumstances are different this season, as the team is coming off two quality wins over Putnam City (35-28) and Ponca City (6-0).

Last season, the Plainsmen’s opening game against Putnam City was canceled due to COVID-19, forcing a last-minute meeting with Class 3A Madill. They’ve also shown they have the ability to make plays on both sides of the ball.

Putnam City rebounded from the loss to Enid with a 36-35 win over Putnam City North, who had been sitting just outside the Top 5 in 6A-II in the AP Oklahoma Prep Football Poll before the loss.

“We’ve got two quality wins,” EHS head coach Rashaun Woods said about the difference between this squad and last year’s squad. “Whereas last year I thought we caught a lot of criticism for the Madill game, but all-in-all it was still a win. That’s definitely a difference between this year and last year.”

Improving offensive efficiency

The Plainsmen will have several areas to address, in particular on the offensive side of the ball. Enid was hindered by untimely penalties and turnovers late in the game in its win over Ponca City.

There were times where the Plainsmen were clicking offensively with a mix of the running game with Luke Rauh and the short passing game between Bennett Percival and Tykie Andrews. Still, they were only able to convert that momentum into points once, on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Percival to Zane Wiggins.

Percival, a sophomore, completed 60% of his 15 passing attempts for 97 yards in his first home game. He also threw three interceptions including two in the fourth quarter.

Percival showed why his coaches spoke so highly of him in the offseason during the Plainsmen’s Week Zero win over Putnam City. The 6-3, 175 pound pitcher-quarterback went 17 for 29 for 263 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his first career start.

Woods said the offense has to be more efficient moving forward.

“Throwing the football we’ve got to be better,” he said. “Too many turnovers in that aspect. We’ve got to improve on that, and every week that we can be close to 70% or better (completion percentage) and not turn the ball over as many times as we did, we’re in a good place.

"I felt like we took a step back from that standpoint, but we still have a lot of talent and a lot of games left to play, and we’re also pretty healthy. So with all those things combined, I think we’ll continue to improve.”

Defense hoping to add depth

Enid’s defense has likely been the biggest bright spot so far this season. After giving up several long runs early against Putnam City, the defense quickly turned it around and were able to limit the running ability of Putnam City’s Marcellous Hawkins.

Hawkins rushed for four touchdowns and had another through the air against Putnam City North, and scored the game-winning two-point conversion in double overtime to win the game.

Last week, Enid’s defense came away with its first shutout against a 6A team since 2009, which came in a 42-0 win over Ponca City.

It will also benefit from the return of sophomore defensive back Daigen Gibbens, who suffered a hamstring injury and is still waiting to play his first game of the season. Woods said Gibbens “should be” available for the game against Lawton MacArthur on Sept. 17.

“The added depth at the defensive back position with him being a veteran for us is important as we get into teams that can really beat us down the field with the passing game,” Woods said.

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Masri is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Tarik? Send an email to tmasri@enidnews.com.

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