Coaches often call the start of the district play the second season – as in a fresh start where everyone starts with 0-0 records.
That’s where the Durant Lions stand going into an important 5A-3 league opener tonight on the road at Coweta. Kickoff is slated for an earlier than normal 7 o’clock slot at Tiger Field.
The Lions will be looking to bounce back after a pair of losses to Ardmore and Ada which has them with an identical pre-district record as the Tigers. Coweta however is coming off their first win of the year, a 23-0 whitewashing of Catoosa following opening defeats at the hands of state ranked Metro Christian and Wagoner.
“This team believes in each other,” head coach Randy Matthews said. “This is the first step in their goal to win district. We need to start off with a positive and get a good taste back in our mouth. Getting district started off on a good note would do just that.”
Matthews plans to have all his troops available for tonight’s game, even Trever Wann, who suffered a scary injury in the first half at Ada.
Bouncing back quickly will be vital, especially on the road against one of the preseason top contenders in the district.
“We got a little humbled last week and learned some things,” Matthews added. “I think we’ve recovered well from that with a good week of practice. They all know we have a big game this week to start district.”
For the past two seasons, both playoff campaigns, Coweta has employed a spread-it-out “air raid” attack but is in the bit of a transition. New head coach Tim Holt Jr., a stalwart receiver at Southeastern just over a dozen years ago, had implemented a more balanced arsenal that seems to run as much as they throw.
Last week they rolled up 256 yards on the ground, the Tigers’ highest rushing output in a few years.
Quarterback Braden Calico is a dual threat with 129 yards rushing and 384 yards through the air thus far.
“They have a good tradition and expect to be in the playoffs,” Matthews commented. “They are very aggressive on both sides of the football.
“On offense they have a lefty quarterback, which is a little different, but he can spread it all over the field. They also like to run him a lot. Two other running backs that split time are also very good runners.”
Defensively, Coweta found its form last week, posting a shutout against Catoosa after struggling against the speed of defending Class 4A state champ Wagoner in a 32-7 loss in Week 2.
Forcing turnovers were the key for the Tigers a week ago as they came up with three interceptions.
“They are going to line up correctly and be sound,” the Durant head coach said. “We have to figure out ways to take advantage of what they give you. They really like to bring people on defense and put pressure on you. That’s how they create their turnovers, forcing people to make mistakes.”
Durant will look to get an offense untracked that has struggled with consistency for the past 10 quarters. Since racing out to a 20-7 halftime lead against Poteau, the Lions have managed just two fourth quarter touchdown runs by Tre Harper (one for 74 against the Pirates and a 47-yarder versus Ada). They have totaled 510 yards during that span and turned the ball over six times.
Through three contests Harper has 72 carries for 364 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Cade Buchanan has thrown for 386 yards and two scores. Jeremy Seward had 145 yards on 11 receptions while Matthew Knox has added 140 on six catches.
Jaston Daniels is the team’s top tackler with 35 stops. Bryan Usry has added 33 and Kolby Blake 30.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Matthews commented. “We have to take care of the football better and make sure we keep up the intensity for four quarters.”
WR 22 Matthew Knox
WR 86 Brody Morgan
or 2 Brandon Davis
LT 53 Jacob Gooch
LG 56 Braden Rudolf
C 64 Cameron Steadman
RG 75 Tyler Olive
RT 71 Bruen Wood
WR 9 Jeremy Seward
QB 5 Cade Buchanan
FB 7 Dakota Finley
RB 21 Tre Harper
DE 44 David Sanders
DT 60 Jared Iscimenler
DT 64 Cameron Steadman
DE 51 Parker Morgan
OLB 25 Bryan Usry
MLB 45 Landon Tubbs
OLB 42 Brandon Fox
CB 22 Matthew Knox
CB 7 Dakota Finley
SS 8 Kolby Blake
FS 13 Jaston Daniels