AFTON — One of the oldest rivalries in Ottawa County and Oklahoma will be rekindled Friday, Oct. 14 when Afton hosts Fairland.
This will be at least the 88th time the schools have met, dating back to 1922. Afton holds a 55-30-2 advantage.
Tulsa World files show Fairland winning that first battle 9-7.
“If you’ve been around the Fairland-Afton thing for so long, you know that Afton — it doesn’t matter if they are up or down — has figured out a better way in this rivalry to dig down deep, regardless of the records to get the job done and we haven’t,” Fairland head coach Kent Marshall said.
“Friday night is going to be one of those ballgames. On paper, maybe we should win the ballgame, but we’ve got to go out and take care of business.”
While Fairland enters the game with a 2-3 record, Afton — the defending Class A state champ — is winless in six games.
This is the first time since 2002 that both teams enter the game with losing. Afton was 1-5 and the Owls 0-6.
“They are in uncharted territory,” Marshall said. “It will be interesting to see what they bring. We are liable to see every kind of trick formation, trick play, that type of thing. You just keep your eyes wide open, trust what you see and go play.”
Afton head coach Fred Peery feels the same way.
“I am sure they will throw whatever they can at us offensive and defensively I am sure they will come at us as much as they can.”
Colcord rolled to a 58-14 victory over Afton last Friday.
That was the widest margin of defeat on the season for the Eagles, who have dropped three other games by margins of six (Tulsa Webster, 14-8 in overtime), eight (Salina, 28-20) and four (Quapaw, 20-16) points.
“Those are three games we probably should have won or at least had a chance to win them,” Afton head coach Fred Peery said. “We were ahead (of Quapaw) in the game and there’s maybe six minutes left and it gets turned around in a hurry. A couple things went wrong to turn the tide on us.”
Marshall has either played or coached in the rivalry as a player or coach.
He graduated from FHS in 1980, playing for Bob Collins in his final season as the Owls’ head coach.
Marshall then assisted Duane Thomas in the 1980s before leaving to start the football program at Diamond, Missouri.
He returned to his alma mater as head coach from 1992 to 1994 and returned in 2015.
Ironically, Brad Ferguson, who coached the Owls in the mid-1990s, is in his first year as principal at Afton High School.
“They knew the potential for this was there with those young kids coming up,” Marshall said. “Afton, in a couple years, will be right back up doing well.”
Peery has been stressing to his players that a slot in the playoffs is still possible.
“I don’t think our kids have given up,” Peery said. “That’s not the type of kids they have here. They are resilient and want to fight the good fight and do the best they can.”
In other games Friday night, it will be Wyandotte at Kansas, Oklahoma Union at Commerce, Rejoice Christian at Quapaw, Welch at Coyle and Deer Creek-Lamont at Bluejacket.
This will just be the second time in three weeks that Welch will play a game.
The Wildcats had to forfeit their Sept. 14 game to Foyil, lost to Medford 54-0 on Sept. 28 and forfeited to Covington-Douglas last Friday.
Following Friday night, WHS has three games remaining: Oct. 18 at home with Southwest Covenant, Oct. 26 at Bluejacket and Nov. 2 at home with Deer Creek-Lamont.
All three of the games the Cats have played were ended at the half via the eight-man mercy rule.