Class 4A playoff preview
by Ben Johnson (@BenJohnsonTUL)
11/7/2018 4:08:03 PM
posted in: Articles | 3,378 views

Players to watch

- Gunnar Thompson (Poteau): A 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end who is starting to get recognition by Division I coaches has wrecked havoc on opposing offenses all year long with 74 tackles and nine sacks. He's also chipping in on offense at tight end with 22 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
- Bryce Madron (Blanchard): Junior tailback has powered the Lions' offense all season long with 1,499 yards and 31 touchdowns on 146 carries.
- Tavien Woodworth (Fort Gibson): Junior running back has eclipsed 200 carries through 10 games with 201 rushes for 1,474 yards and 17 touchdowns.
- Jose Oritz (Catoosa): Senior tailback has amassed 1,198 yards and 17 touchdowns on 151 carries this season.
- Sam Brandt (Bethany): Junior quarterback does it all for the Bronchos. He's carried the ball 99 times for 805 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he's also completed 106 out of 163 passes for 1,717 yards and 16 touchdowns. On defense, he's logged 50 tackles and two interceptions.
- Carson Berryhill (Tuttle): Senior quarterback has tossed 19 touchdowns while completing 83 of 144 passes for 1,324 yards. 
- Devin Hembry (Hilldale): Rushed 88 times for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Hornets this season.

Don't overlook... Bristow

The Pirates were forced to move up a class from the past several seasons, but it's worked out swimmingly. Bristow has outscored opponents by a combined score of 478 to 206, and the Pirates' lone loss was a 29-28 contest in overtime against Wagoner. Tyler Wayland at quarterback is as dangerous as it gets, and the Pirates will attempt to control the game in the trenches.

Favorite (potential) matchup - Bristow vs. Poteau

Both teams face an uphill battle to get to this point, but what a showdown it would be. Bristow's dominating running game against Poeau's defense would be a sight to behold. 

Coaching candor

How do other high school coaches see the 4A postseason playing out? We asked and they made their predictions (after being granted anonymity, of course). 
Coach One: "For the semifinals, I'll go with Broken Bow against Wagoner. Bow is really fast but Wagoner knows how to win. I'll also go with Bristow against Blanchard. Bristow has the fasteset backfield in maybe 4A history. So I"ll go with Bristow. In the finals, Wagoner won the first time and will win the second time. After all, they are Wagoner."
Coach Two: "Tuttle is the total package. They are extremely physical on both sides of the ball. They have tremendous line and skill kids. They don't have a weakness that can be spotted. Really good players at all positions. To top if off, they are extremely well coached."

Prediction time

Michael Swisher: Poteau over Wagoner - Iíll be the first to admit I have no idea whatís going to happen in the 4A playoffs. I think you could play out the bracket 10 times, get different matchups in the final each time and have six or seven different teams bring home the gold ball. Thatís the long way of saying I wouldnít be surprised if neither of these teams are in the title tilt. So why not Poteau? Pirates win their first-ever football crown.
Ben Johnson: Poteau over Wagoner - Could be in store for a rematch of last year's first round matchup that Wagoner barely won. The Bulldogs deploying Schyler Adair against the Pirates' defense would be exceptional to witness. I would like to go with Bristow in the championship game, but I picked Poteau at the beginning of the season so I'll stick with the Pirates.
Whitt Carter: Tuttle over Clinton Arguably the most wide-open class in the state should make for a fun few weeks of playoff games. The Red Tornadoes missed the playoffs last year for the first time since the Civil War, but are more than back. Clinton finished 9-1 with the lone loss by just a touchdown in week 2 to Class 3A favorite Heritage Hall. The recipe is the same, as Clinton runs the football right at you and plays great defense, a recipe for success in November and December. Meanwhile, Tuttle has been as impressive as anyone in the class this year, as they too are back among the elite after finishing 6-5 a year ago. Quarterback Carson Berryhill leads a great Tigers' offense that has wins over Kingfisher, Plainview, Bethany, Cushing and Blanchard - all playoff teams. I picked Tuttle to win it at the beginning of the year and I'm sticking with the Tigers. 

*Photo courtesy of John Sullivan Photography

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