Playmakers emerge as Plainsmen seek 2nd-straight district win

Enid's Luke Rauh carries the ball against Westmoore Oct. 9, 2020, at D. Bruce Selby Stadium. 

ENID, Okla. — Last week’s 20-7 win over Edmond Memorial was Enid’s first district win since 2017. While it could be considered a milestone win for the program, Plainsmen head coach Rashaun Woods sees it as significant, but not necessarily more so than any other for a program that sits at 3-3 (1-2 district) this season after going 0-10 in Woods’ first year.

“Winning the game, regardless of who it is and whether it’s in district right now is a great thing for us,” he said Wednesday. “It’s a great thing for Enid. We want to try to build on it. I don’t think there are any games or wins that are more important than others right now. It’s something that you want to build on regardless of who your opponent is, what time of year its and so forth.”

The win puts Enid in a far more positive mode as it prepares to visit Norman (1-4, 1-3) at 7 p.m. on Friday as opposed to last year when the team entered its game against the Tigers winless and not competitive. The Plainsmen fell 55-7 last season in a game that featured a running clock for the second half.

This year, however, the Plainsmen have shown they are not just competitive, but capable of winning.

They jumped out to a 20-0 lead last week over the Bulldogs, a team that defeated the Plainsmen 35-0 one year ago for its only win of the season.

It was a combination of a fast start on offense and a smothering defense.

“We were able to limit negative plays and that gave us a chance to win the game,” Woods said. “Our defense played lights out and anytime they do that ... you’ve got a great chance.”

The Bulldogs’ lone touchdown came when a Bulldogs’ defender ripped the ball out of Enid running back Johnny Villa’s arms and returned it for a touchdown. Otherwise, the Plainsmen likely would have had their second shutout of the season.

Plainsmen sophomore linebacker Carlos Alvarado led the Enid defensive charge with 15 tackles against Edmond Memorial.

Enid’s defense has recorded 13 sacks this season, which Plainsmen defensive coordinator Kareem Sears said Thursday is the most in the 10 years he has coached the Plainsmen.

The game had its share of highlight moments for the Plainsmen, both on offense and defense.

Sophomore Tykie Andrews showed why he has become Enid’s top receiving threat when he hauled in a 52-yard pass from Blake Priest (who passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns last week) despite being blanketed by a defender. Andrews tipped the ball, kept his focus and ran another 30 yards before being forced out of bounds. Enid took the lead on an 8-yard pass to sophomore Luke Rauh, who, like, Andrews is finding himself a bigger part of the Plainsmen offense.

“Tykie Andrews is developing into a player, although he’s just a sophomore now, that’s going to make a lot of catches and a lot of plays here at Enid,” Woods said. “I’m excited to be part of giving him a chance to develop. He’s only going to get better.”

Andrews leads the Plainsmen with 24 receptions for 478 yards, an average of 19.9 yards per catch.

At the end of the first half, with Enid up 14-0 after a Villa touchdown reception, the Bulldogs were driving for a potential touchdown deep in Enid territory until senior defensive back John White decided to put his name in the record books.

Picking off a pass in the end zone, White, who leads the team with four interceptions, appeared to give little consideration to doing the safe thing and taking a knee. Instead, he took it 107 yards the other way to put Enid up 20-0 at half. White broke an Enid record for longest interception return that had stood since 1964. He also did it without benefit of practicing the week leading up to the game.

Woods approved of White’s decision to not take a knee and praised him for the way he responded following a hip flexor injury that kept him off the field during practice.

“I have taken a mantra of scoop-and-score every play,” Woods said. “Intercept it, take it for a touchdown. That’s we he did. I loved that he did it. It was a tremendous play for the team, for him. The kids got the green light to be aggressive and to go after it.

“He (White) showed up every day and did his rehab during practice. He also conditioned with (strength and conditioning coach) Tracy Baldwin and prepared himself to be ready to play on Friday. For a guy to be mature enough to make sure he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing when nobody is looking is something special.”

While Enid’s ground game only accounted for 67 yards last week, Luke Rauh continued to emerge as a top backfield threat. Rauh gained 35 yards on nine carries and had three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown, but equally important, did not fumble.

“Johnny (Villa) is still playing for us. He ended up putting the ball on the ground that one time and that affects playing time,” Woods said. “Guys understand how important ball security is and how it affects who plays. Luke Rauh has been making play after play after play and he’s really coming on. He’s a guy that’s going to continue to compete at that position and probably get more carries as the season wears on.”

The Plainsmen will be facing a Norman team Friday whose record of 1-4 (1-3 in district) is a bit deceiving. Its losses have been against Mustang in overtime, Yukon, Jenks and last week, Westmoore. Its sole win is a 27-20 win over Edmond Memorial.

The Tigers though led 35-19 over Westmoore with just over one minute left in the game last week before the roof caved-in on them in the form of Jaguars’ quarterback Dayton Wolfe, who took Enid apart in a 45-27 win on Oct. 9, and an avalanche of penalties.

The Tigers have a mobile quarterback in sophomore Tias McClarty, who had two long touchdown runs last week, and is equally comfortable running the option as part of a productive running game.

“Their quarterback can really run and he’s OK throwing the ball, but the main thing is containing his athletic ability when he runs the football because he is electric,” Woods said. “They aren’t one of the premier teams in 6A1 in terms of throwing it, but they’ve got a couple of guys that are flat-out ball players on the outside that can catch the ball.

“They’ve got a lot of kids that can do some things. They’re extremely athletic just about everywhere, so it’s going to be a challenge, but we feel confident that if we come out and limit mistakes and execute, we’ll have a chance.”

Woods said the Plainsmen will likewise look to run on the Tigers.

“We’ve run the ball on just about everybody and we had some hiccups last week. We’ve got to be able to run the football and depending on how well we do that, will definitely play a part in the game for us.

Woods said the team is mostly healthy. Left guard Eric Ford though is out for the season and left tackle Aiden Crawford is questionable.

Norman leads the series 26-11-3. The game can be heard on KCRC (1390 AM).

OSSAA playoff changes: Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association announced earlier this week that, due to the unusual circumstances this season due to coronavirus, it was opening the football playoffs to all teams. Woods said he supports the decision.

“They’re just trying to find a way to get this done and this is what they’ve come up with,” Woods said. “I’m all for it. Besides, it’s another opportunity to play another week and we’re excited about it. If nothing else, just a chance to play another game and have a chance to win it.”

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

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