Class 5A is always intense, mainly because everyone’s always out to get Goliath.
In this case, Goliath in 5A is none other than the Carl Albert Titans.
The Titan dynasty has won five straight state championships with four of those being led by former QB Ben Harris. Harris graduated last spring and is now a walk-on for the defending Big 12 Champion Oklahoma
However, with most of the star power being gone due to 2021 graduation, 5A is wide open this year.
There could be some teams in the state championship conversation that we haven’t heard about in years.
As a matter of fact, my sleepers for each District could end up being in this conversation as well:
District 1: Ardmore
Despite having a rough year in 2020 going 5-4 (3-3), the Ardmore Tigers managed to finish fourth in the district with a key win on the road against Duncan 49-27. They also took care of business against Woodward in the play-in round, 35-14. You have to admit that even though the Tigers got dominated by Carl Albert in the next round, 49-14. Carl Albert was nothing nearly unstoppable, not only in the playoffs, but for the entire season (except, of course, against truly unstoppable Bixby). Ardmore already looks very promising in 2021. The Tigers are 3-0 and come in at No. 8 in the 5A rankings this week. They own two of these victories on the road including last Friday at 6A-II opponent Ponca City. What’s even better for the Tigers is they have El Reno and Duncan at home this season. El Reno topped the District in 2020 while Duncan claimed third. Duncan is having a slow 1-2 start this season after losing back-to-back games at Lawton 39-7 and at home against Guthrie 41-7. Not to mention, El Reno’s offense struggled as well in their first matchup. Worst case scenario for Ardmore is that they only lose at MacArthur which could still put them in a comfortable position in the playoffs.
District 2: Guthrie
The Bluejays have had some ups and downs the past few years including missing the playoffs in 2019, falling short of winning the district in 2018 and barely managing to be a .500 team from 2015-2017. The last time Guthrie won a state championship was in 2013. However, 2020 was a different story despite being unable to matchup against Eisenhower and rival Carl Albert due to COVID-19. Regardless, Guthrie pulled off a shocking upset against MacArthur in the playoffs, 42-39, which advanced the Bluejays to the quarterfinals. The Guthrie defensive squad is showing a lot of improvement and they are a huge reason why they have an impressive 3-0 start. The 41-7 win at Duncan last Friday might show that this Bluejay team is a legitimate contender to win the district, especially with Carl Albert appearing to have a rebuilding year this year. Guthrie enters in this week at No. 5 in the rankings.
District 3: McAlester
The McAlester Buffaloes are looking to keep adding to the Cinderella season they had last year. Finishing third in the district last season may not look like a big deal, but the Buffaloes were at the right place at the right time when the playoffs kicked off in 2020. With Glenpool having to forfeit the first game, McAlester began to shock the state winning a shutout against Pryor 47-0, pulling off an overtime thriller against El Reno 43-41, and just falling short to Bishop McGuiness in the semifinals, 28-21. Overall, what a miraculous season for the Buffaloes. On top of that, they’re already at 3-0 this year. What’s even better is that McAlester’s three top scoring weapons are back, including the third leading rusher in Oklahoma from last season, junior Eric McCarty. He had 34 touchdowns in 2020, not including three touchdowns receiving. They also have senior quarterback Trent Boatright as well as another one of their rushing weapons, Dakota Moton, who is a junior. Not to mention, the Buffaloes are on a seven-game winning streak on the road dating back to last year. They may be ranked No. 1 in 5A right now, but remember they didn’t even finish second in the district last year. Not only do I think they’re the sleeper for District 3, I think they have a major chance to win 5A in 2021 and snap Carl Albert’s streak.
District 4: Tahlequah
This is the team to keep an eye on this season. The Tigers finished 6-5 last season with an early exit in the playoffs, but they finished third in the district and the Tigers have a lot of talent back on both sides of the ball. They have a great solid running core with QB Tyler Joice contributing to the running game as well. Joice along with McMurtrey, Sparh, and backup QB Brody Younger have combined for 12 rushing touchdowns in just three games this season. The Tigers’ two wins this season weren’t against high power teams and their loss did come to defending 4A state champions Wagoner Bulldogs. However, the Bulldogs were challenged in this matchup and had to score a late touchdown in the fourth quarter to comfortably win 21-7. This is a loss that the Tigers shouldn’t be ashamed about and it was a great defensive performance by Tahlequah. If the running game continues to work for them as well as their defense, they might have a chance to sneak into the playoffs again this year.