Prior to the start of the 2019 prep football season a couple of things were pretty clear about the Enid Plainsmen football team. Namely, they would be young and thin.

With the vast majority of their roster comprised of relatively inexperienced sophomores and juniors it meant there was going to be a pretty steep learning curve for first-year head coach Rashaun Woods’ squad.

While the team does possess some playmakers, its depth (or lack thereof) means the team, at least until the other young players get fully up to speed, can ill afford injuries to its starters.

Both elements have been on display through the first two games as the team has made some youthful mistakes while also dealing with injuries to key players.

Starting senior running back Trent Mitchell missed Game 2 against rival Ponca City with a knee injury, linebacker Hunter Filarski suffered an injury in the opener and most recently linebacker Dylan Gau, one of the team captains, appeared to hurt his knee in the Ponca City game.

Those are critical absences for any team, but especially a young team. But the Plainsmen have shown early they are not lacking one quality component and that is heart.

Yes, the Plainsmen are sitting at 0-2 after a 6-3 loss to rival Ponca City on Friday. But consider that they have lost by a combined total of five points, which includes their 23-21 loss at Guthrie in the season-opener.

Both games demonstrated that the young Plainsmen have plenty of resiliency but also had tell-tale signs of youth. The Plainsmen dug themselves an early hole in the opener thanks to miscues, but behind a stout defensive effort, battled back before coming up short. Against Ponca, the Plainsmen were unable to hold a 3-0 lead, but kept the Wildcats out of the end zone.

Enid’s defense has only surrendered an average of 239.5 yards of offensive through the first two games.

Enid cleaned up some of the mistakes from Game 1, such as issues with the center snap. But crucial mistakes cost them at critical junctures against Ponca City, such as a penalty that wiped out what would have been a momentum-building interception by Jadon Dimarucut and they committed offside infractions that thwarted their drives.

There also, though, were positives, such as Jonathan White demonstrating that he is becoming a ball-hawking defensive back with his second pick in two games this season. Johnny Villa and Nickey Chinoska ran well at times in Mitchell’s absence and Daigen Gibbens is developing into a reliable threat in the passing game.

Sure, it hurts to lose to your rival, especially when it meant Ponca City was able to snap a 17-game losing streak and extend Enid’s losing streak to 10 games. But the mistakes are certainly all things that are correctable and Woods will likely be focusing on fixing those.

Enid now heads into an open week before facing a tough Bishop McGuinness squad on the road on Sept. 20 for the final non-district game. While the competition gets tougher, it also will be an opportunity for the Plainsmen to continue to show they are making progress and reducing the severity of their learning curve.

The team is 0-2, but has legitimate reasons to believe it could be 2-0.

Making them feel at home: Big time kudos to Oklahoma Bible Academy for making visiting Putnam Heights Academy (formerly Seeworth Academy) feel a bit at home on Friday.

Putnam Heights, as was reported by News & Eagle sports reporter Cody Nagel last week, has been through a rough offseason after the inner-city charter school was taken over by Oklahoma City Public Schools following allegations of financial misuse that saw the school scramble to find a new building three weeks before the season. It relocated into the old Putnam Heights elementary school. Its uniforms were donated by Putnam City North.

It’s been a nomadic, vagabond existence this season for the team coached by former Sooner standout Anthony Fogle, who also coached with OBA athletic director James Cheatham in 2012 at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

The newly christened Panthers will play all six of their games on the road this season, but OBA students stepped up to make the Panthers feel a little less like visitors, decorating the visitor’s locker room with handmade signs with messages like “You got this Putnam Heights!”

They also specially prepared packages for each visiting player. OBA fed the Panthers a post-game meal.

The Trojans improved to 2-0 with a 33-0 win, but the lesson provided no doubt went far beyond the final score as OBA showed its mission is not just a slogan.

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

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