Class A playoff preview
by Ben Johnson (@BenJohnsonTUL)
11/8/2018 3:41:11 PM
posted in: Articles | 2,510 views

Players to watch

- Grant Elerick (Stroud): Junior quarterback has completed 69.2 percent of his passes (139 of 201) for 2,218 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.
- Zach Hale (Christian Heritage): Senior QB has 1,647 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 119 of 187 passes. Also had 129 tackles and six interceptions on defense.
- Tanner McBee (Hooker): Senior tailback has rushed for 1,170 yards and 15 touchdowns.
- Jacob Bruce (Hulbert): Senior tailback is closing in on the state's all-time rushing yardage record. For the season, he has 2,564 yards and 31 touchdowns on 234 carries.
- Andrew Crow (Rejoice Christian): Senior tailback has logged 1,665 yards and 31 touchdowns on 135 carries for the Eagles.
- Blake Hipp (Hominy): Completed 83 of 132 passes for 1,598 yards and 22 touchdowns.
- Trent Littlejohn (Minco): Senior middle linebacker has racked up 94 tackles, two sacks and an interception for the Bulldogs.
- Griffin Lamb (Cashion): Senior QB has been nearly flawless while orchestrating the Wildcats' offense. Has 1,526 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air, and he's rushed for 426 yards and six scores on the ground.
- Alec Meinert (Hobart): His offense has been solid -- 1,217 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air and 324 yards on the ground -- and he's put together an impressive season punting the ball (34.7 yard-per-punt average), too.
- Tyler Peters and Danchez Patterson (Wynnewood): Pair of junior running backs has totaled 2,222 yards and 29 touchdowns this season.

Don't overlook... Stroud

Seems like every Class A school could fit in this space. There's always a time where you casually remember that Team X or Team Y is really really good. That's been Stroud this year. The Tigers' defense took a little while to get into a groove this season, allowing Chandler, Okemah and Prague to score a combined 80 points in three weeks. Since then, Stroud has issued only 68 points over the past seven games. Then there's the Tigers' offense, which features Grant Elerick at quarterback and Collin Seaton at running back. Stroud might be the most dangerous 9-1 team out there.

Favorite (potential) matchup - Rejoice Christian vs. Hooker

The quadrant of the bracket that features Rejoice Christian and Hooker also has some dangerous teams in Crossings Christian, Wynnewood and Gore. But Rejoice Christian and Hooker have been top notch in Class A all season long. A running back match up of Andrew Crow against Tanner McBee would be highly-entertaining, too.

Coaching candor

How do other high school coaches see the Class A postseason playing out? We asked and they made their predictions (after being granted anonymity, of course). 
Coach One: "I think it will come down to Cashion vs. Hooker. Cashion won the toughest district in Class A, and Coach Shackelford has them rolling. They are battle tested. Hooker had a great run last year, and they are big and physical. They're poised for another deep run. I give the edge to Cashion. But Rejoice Christian and Crossings Christian could be dangerous, as well as Fairview."
Coach Two: "Class A football is stacked this year with a lot of great teams fighting for the title. Teams that have a shot at winning the title are Hooker, Rejoice, Ringling, Morrison, Stroud, Tonkawa, Minco, Hulbert, Cashion, Thomas. The favorites would have to be Hooker, Cashion, Rejoice, Ringling all supporting records of 10-0.
However, the team with the easiest path through the bracket would have to be Cashion. As long as Cashion can stay healthy and get past Tonkawa, who they may face in the semifinals, look for this team to be in the state championship. Cashion has been battled tested throughout the year beating good teams such as Crossings Christian and Minco. Lynn Shackelford is a great coach that is no stranger to the playoffs. My prediction is Cashion will be in the Class A final game.
The second team I predict to make the finals is the Hooker Bulldogs. Hooker made a semifinal run last year in the playoffs, so their kids know what it takes to make a run deep in the playoffs. The Bulldogs are big and physical relying on a powerful run game behind a nice sized class A line. Hooker has put up an average of 34 points per game while their stingy defense has only given up nine points per game. The Bulldogs have the tougher route to the state title game, in my opinion, having to go through teams such as Rejoice in the quarterfinals. Rejoice has scored an average of 53 points per game. They will face one of three traditionally sound programs in the semifinals Ringling, Stroud, or Morrison. However, I think Hooker's size and physical line play will advance them to the state final game."

Prediction time

Michael Swisher: Hooker over Cashion - The Bulldogs were on the doorstep of the state finals a year ago, but some untimely interceptions derailed those hopes. Nothing has derailed them this year. Meanwhile, Cashion has proven it can go to the air with Griffin Lamb’s arm or grind out wins with T.J. Roberts’ legs. That combined with one of their best defenses recently also has the Wildcats unbeaten. In the end, Hooker will have just a little too much and will hoist the gold ball, giving them the opportunity for the double-take as they’ll likely be the top-ranked 2A team in basketball, too. (Oh, but look out for Cashion for the next four years or so).
Ben Johnson: Cashion over Morrison - Picking Cashion to make the championship game wasn't all that difficult. There are some solid teams on the Wildcats' half of the bracket, but none that I see measuring up to Cashion's level. Now, the other side of the bracket, my goodness -- absolutely stacked. Hooker, Rejoice Christian, Ringling, Stroud and Morrison are all teams with the talent level to reach the final game of the season. So it was basically just grasping at straws on who would face Cashion in the finals. Ultimately, I went with Morrison. The Wildcats were unstoppable most of the year, and their lone loss was to Tonkawa when running back Ryker Hughes was out with an injury. Other than that, Morrison's defense has been stellar all year long. And it will need to be in the playoffs. And this is where I tell you, I said all of those words to mention that I still think Cashion wins it all.
Whitt Carter: Cashion over Hooker Another class that seems to be wide open, I will take the one I trust the most. Cashion has been great this season and got out of one of the toughest districts in the state unscathed. Griffin Lamb leads an always aggressive, potent offense that has put up some big numbers this year. Hooker has had a nice season too, finishing 10-0 and rolling through their schedule. But this seems like the year Lynn Shackleford and crew get it done. The Wildcats bring home the Class A state title.

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