Lawton, OK 73507
Record: 6-5 | Rank: 6
|@ Putnam City||W||7-56|
|vs Del City||L||28-55|
|@ Putnam City West||W||21-42|
|vs Deer Creek||W||34-17|
|@ Midwest City||L||56-45|
| Ben Johnson
Not to worry, the track is not set to repeat. It only feels like that.
Jenks is going after another Class 6AI gold ball this Friday. This time, it’s not against Union, but instead against a Broken Arrow team that was been on a roll ever since coming out of the chute in August.
It’ll be a traditional power taking on a program that is on the cusp of transforming itself into a traditional power. The Tigers could enter that lofty atmosphere, just one year after Owasso did the same thing.
Meanwhile, in Class 6AII, it’s Bixby against the revolving door. Since the Spartans made a championship game appearance an annual trip since the advent of 6AII, Bixby has taken on varying number of opponents. Twice Bixby has played Lawton, then there was Sand Springs one time and last year it was Booker T. Washington.
In 2018, Bixby will welcome Stillwater into the title fold. The Pioneers, with perhaps the best quarterback-running back duo on Gunnar Gundy and Qwontrel Walker, will chase their first state title in more than 40 years. What a job Tucker Barnard has done in Payne County.
Now, on to the game previews….
*All games scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.
No. 1 Broken Arrow (12-0) vs. No. 2 Jenks (11-1)
Where: Chapman Stadium (University of Tulsa)
Road to the title game
- Broken Arrow: 49-0 vs. Moore in the quarterfinals; 10-7 vs. Owasso in the semifinals
- Jenks: 42-12 vs. Putnam City North in the quarterfinals; 27-24 vs. Union in the semifinals
What to watch for
- Broken Arrow’s Noah Cortes vs. Jenks’ defense: Only two teams have managed to keep the Tigers’ tailback in check all season long -- Jenks and Mansfield (Texas). Cortes finished with 90 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in Broken Arrow’s win over Jenks earlier this season. Cortes has been a man on a mission this entire season, but Jenks is bound to have a few schemes in the works to limit Cortes’ production. It will be a matter of Cortes’ finding room for a big play from scrimmage.
- Jenks’ Ian Corwin efficiency: The Trojan’s senior quarterback has not given the ball away much this season. He has completed 138 of his 226 pass attempts for 2,245 yards and 19 touchdowns. Only eight of those incompletions have gone for interceptions. One of the giveaways was to Broken Arrow’s Bryce Mattioda in the fourth quarter of the game between the two teams in September. In Corwin’s last game -- Jenks’ 27-24 win over Union -- he completed 20 of 34 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
- Championship game comfort: Neither team played in last year’s 6AI title tilt, but Jenks’ roster is littered with players used to playing for golden supremacy. The prevailing question is, how will Broken Arrow’s players handle the spotlight? Despite Jenks’ early score to put the Trojans up 7-0 in the matchup in September, Broken Arrow owned much of the first half, and Jenks coach Keith Riggs admitted it. “They played well and got after us, especially in the first half,” he told the Tulsa World after the game. So can Broken Arrow strike early again, or will both teams be forced to grind it out early and often?
- On Sept. 20, Broken Arrow beat Jenks, 28-13. The Tigers’ defense stifled Jenks throughout the game and limited the Trojans to 135 yards on offense.
- According to Broken Arrow’s stat tracker, the Tigers managed only seven “chunk” plays against Jenks on Sept. 20. Four of the seven plays came in the second quarter, highlighted by Quintevin Cherry’s 20-yard TD run that gave the Tigers a 14-7 lead. Tate Robards hit Matt Kaiser for two of the plays -- a 25-yard completion in the first quarter and a 15-yard completion in the second period. Noah Cortes had three of the plays with rushes of 13, 16 and 11 yards.
- This will be the second time for Broken Arrow and Jenks to meet in a championship game. The Trojans beat the Tigers, 35-14, in 2015.
- Broken Arrow has never beaten Jenks twice in one season.
- Head coach David Alexander, in his fifth season at Broken Arrow, is 43-16; This is Keith Riggs’ first year as head coach at Jenks after replacing Allan Trimble and his 22-year tenure.
- Jenks is 16-8 in championship games; Broken Arrow is 0-3.
- A title would be …… Jenks’ 17th; Broken Arrow’s first.
Michael Swisher: Broken Arrow over Jenks - No reason to believe this won't hold true. Sure, BA looked less-than-stellar in its semifinal win over Owasso. However, many a title run have included games where the eventual champ had to win when it wasn't at its best (even in a three-game march to a title). The Tigers are still the most complete team and will send the Jenks-Union drought to a catastrophic second year.
Ben Johnson: Jenks over Broken Arrow - I’ve seen this script before. There was Spencer McIllwain in 2002, then there was Coleby Evans in 2011 and recently it was Cooper Nunley and Dillon Stoner in 2015. I grew up on the Tigers falling short in championship games. This Tigers team is different, from Matt Kaiser to Noah Cortes to Zach Marcheselli to Bryce Mattioda to Andrew Raym. This Broken Arrow roster is loaded. I believe Broken Arrow is fully capable of winning its first gold ball. But I also believe Jenks will give the Tigers all they want in the second meeting between these two this season. I’ve operated under the umbrella that I can’t pick Broken Arrow until I see it win a championship -- just like last year, I wasn’t going to pick against Union or Jenks until I saw someone beat them in a title game. Plus, I’ve been so bad at picking this year that I’m really doing Broken Arrow a solid here.
Whitt Carter: Broken Arrow over Jenks - This was my pick at the start of the playoffs and I'll stick with it. I've been on the Broken Arrow train since August and was feeling great about it, until last week. The Tigers were seriously challenged by an Owasso team they had already beaten by four touchdowns earlier this season. The Tigers will have an even tougher test in a Jenks squad that has rolled since Broken Arrow beat them 28-13 in September. I think it'll be another close one this week and like last week, I think the Broken Arrow defense comes up with a big play or turnover late in the game that turns out to be the difference.