ENID, Okla. — After essentially being dragged up and down the field the past couple of weeks in losses to Class 3A powerhouses Kingfisher and Perkins-Tryon, Class 2A Chisholm is feeling a little relieved to start district play. The Longhorns (1-2) host Oklahoma Christian School Friday at 7 p.m.
"I'd rather not run into another Perkins or Kingfisher, that's for sure," said Longhorns head coach Joey Reinart on Thursday. "Going against good teams like that, when you get in the game and that first half, it's all hitting you real fast (for an inexperienced team)."
Like they did two weeks ago at Kingfisher, the Longhorns found themselves in a deep hole at halftime against Perkins, down 34-6.
Reinart said the team did show improvement in both halves of each game.
"I know you can look at it as the game was out of hand, but I think though we improved in the second half of both games as far as our mentality and fixing things, so we've got to try and get them to understand things are important from the get-go."
It also didn't help that Chisholm lost one of its top offensive playmakers when Luke Balenti left the game early with a knee injury. His status remains in doubt this week. Reinart said Balenti is getting around right now on crutches as they await a definitive diagnosis. Losing Balenti early and finding themselves down big in the first half, made the margin for error practically nil.
Quarterback Bryce Patton did connect with Cody Wichert twice for the team's only offensive scores in the 47-12 loss to Perkins last week. But the problems extended beyond offense.
Reinart said a lack of experience at linebacker and in the secondary were contributing factors.
"When you go against a really good quarterback like the Perkins quarterback, you can be off just a little bit and you pay for it," Reinart said. "Not every athlete we face is going to be like that. You're going to be able to get away with it. But we've always kind of hung our hat on our guys doing the job correctly every time and we just have to keep getting better at it."
Recent history has shown Chisholm has successfully navigated its way back to the top of District 2A-1 following a rough non-conference schedule, including in 2019 when it rebounded from losses to a pair of 4A teams. Reinart believes his current Longhorns, though not as experienced, have the potential to rebound and remain energized and confident.
"They understand," he said. "They've seen this before. They've not physically been out there on a Friday night, but they've seen this progression happen before, so they do know you just have to keep plugging and keep getting better. They understand we aren't that bad and hopefully have a lot of faith in the coaching staff to get them in the right spot and lined up the proper way."
Chisholm's opponent this week comes in as a bit of a mystery with no recent game film to review.
OCS (2-0) has not played a game in three weeks after opening with a 27-14 win over Christian Heritage on Aug. 28 and defeating Morrison 40-8 on Sept. 4. OCS was scheduled to play Crossings Christian on Sept. 4, a game that fell victim to COVID-19. OCS had a scheduled bye week last week.
OCS will enter Friday's game either really well-rested and prepared or potentially really rusty. Current film would have been even more helpful considering the changeover that has occurred at OCS this season.
"They've had a few weeks off, so hopefully what we've seen early in the season is still what they've got going now," Reinart said. "They have a new staff, new offense and a new defense. It's traditionally a good program that just fires in more athletes every year. They always have some big linemen and good skilled athletes."
Chisholm defeated OCS 29-12 last season, but trails the all-time series, 5-3.