With three football games remaining in the high school regular season, the Pawhuska Huskies are looking like playoff contenders.
Head coach Bob Craig hopes to keep the Huskies on course Friday night when they host a dangerous district foe, the Chelsea Green Dragons.
It will be Homecoming 2013 at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium, but Craig said gave up worrying about the distractions associated with homecoming events "about a hundred years ago."
"There’s no need to get concerned about anything," said the veteran of 33 prep coaching campaigns. "You just let the kids enjoy it all and then try to focus their attention when the game gets going."
Chelsea enters the with a 2-5 overall record, the same as Pawhuska. The Huskies holds a 2-1 mark in District 2A-7 contests, however, while the visiting Dragons are 1-2. Craig said he expects the visitors "to line up and come right at us."
"That’s something that we have not always handled as well as we need to," said the first-year Pawhuska coach. "It will be our job to not give in and take away their will to win."
Craig said the Huskie offense is geared to search out and exploit an opposing team’s weaknesses. He added that the run-pass option ability of senior quarterback Zalin Edwards makes that strategy practical. Edwards was the major force in last year’s 28-12 PHS victory at Chelsea.
The Adair Warriors (6-1, 4-0) are atop the district standings, followed by the Nowata Ironmen (6-1, 3-1). PHS sits alone in third place. Tied with Chelsea for the district’s fourth position are the Oklahoma Union Cougars (3-4, 1-2), who were defeated by the Dragons, 16-6, two weeks ago.
Following the loss to Pawhuska, Chouteau-Mazie fell to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the district. Chouteau’s week three victory (30-20) over Chelsea had been the first 2A-7 triumph for the Wildcats since 2008. The Caney Valley Trojans (0-7, 0-3) are the district’s cellar-dwellers.
Last Thursday at Chouteau, Edwards and sophomore running back Matthew Taft rushed for two touchdowns apiece in the 42-14 Huskie triumph over the Wildcats. The fleet Pawhuska QB also passed for a pair of scores as the local offense outgained Chouteau-Mazie by a total of 347 yards to 94 — with a 127-to-five margin on the ground and 220-to-89 yards through the air. Another PHS senior, Taylor Priest, caught four passes for 90 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown, and junior Hayden Javellas had a 65-yard TD catch.
Pawhuska’s defense came up big behind senior Kendall Oller (13 tackles) and Bryce Wilson, juniors Marshall Tolson (one sack and three tackles for loss) and Tyler Reece. Rapidly-emerging sophomore Hayden Henley recorded two sacks. The Huskies picked up 15 first downs compared to nine for the Wildcats.
Pass interceptions were recorded by freshman John Bighorse and Edwards, while Gage Dagenais and Tolson both recovered fumbles. On the down side, PHS lost two fumbles in addition to having one punt blocked and a second partially blocked. Pawhuska was penalized 15 times for 110 yards compared to the home team, which was flagged for 35 yards on five infractions.
As always, turnovers and mistakes are factors that probably will decide the outcome of this week’s game against Chelsea, according to the coach.
"It only takes a few mistakes to make the difference between winning and losing," Craig said.
Next week will find Pawhuska on the road in suburban South Coffeyville versus the OK Union Cougars. For the regular-season finale, the Huskies home are back home to face district-leading Adair.
"Our guys have really hung in there and that has put us in the position we’re in," said Craig. "If we take care of business, we feel that we will have a chance for a district championship and possibly have a home game in the playoffs."
"But," he added, "we’re not there yet."
Huskies 42, Wildcats 14
CHOUTEAU — The October awakening continued Thursday night for the Pawhuska Huskies, who notched their second high school football triumph of the season with 42-14 throttling of the wannabe playoff contenders from District 2A-7, the Chouteau-Mazie Wildcats.
The Huskies scored pairs of touchdowns in the first, third and fourth quarters while limiting the home team to only one per half. Senior quarterback Zalin Edwards passed for two TDs and ran in a couple more as PHS improved to 2-1 in the district and 2-5 on the year. Chouteau, at 1-3 and 3-4, descended toward the southern border of postseason relevance.
Pawhuska survived a fairly serious bout with Pogo syndrome, as in: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
In addition to their own mistakes, the Huskies were subjected to some intriguing official rulings by the guys who blow the whistles (and, sometimes, the calls). After playing penalty-free at home last week in an eight-point loss to Nowata, the Huskies were flagged for a dozen infractions — in the first half.
Midway through the opening period, Edwards put the Huskies in front with a 31-yard throwing strike to Taylor Priest — who worked himself open in the end zone as the QB scrambled away from the Wildcat rush. The quarter concluded with Edwards capping a five-play, 53-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring dash after the preceding Chouteau possession ended on a sack by Marshall Tolson.
Pawhuska went scoreless in the second period, allowing the Wildcats to claw their way back into the contest by putting together by putting together a nine-play scoring march enhanced by a phantom pass interference call against the Huskies.
In the third quarter, the teams traded the ball back and forth with turnovers. The Huskies managed to cash in a TD after two minutes following an interception deep in Chouteau territory by freshman standout John BigHorse. Two plays later, Edwards trotted across from three yards out to make it 21-6.
Pawhuska launched another TD march when the Huskie defense held on downs at the PHS 12-yard line. One play after a 50-yard gain was brought back due to an illegal block, Edwards connected with speedy junior Hayden Javellas down the middle for a 65-yard scoring play.
Early in the fourth stanza, the Wildcats cut the lead to 28-14 with a TD pass. The final two Huskie touchdowns came 55 seconds apart in the later in the quarter. Both were scored by Matthew Taft, a sophomore running back who late in the first half had a 75-yard kickoff return TD wiped out by a penalty.
Taft first plunged in from two yards out with seven minutes remaining. Then, following a quick stop by the Huskie defense, he wound his way 34 yards with 6:09 left to play for his second score. Taft’s initial TD came on the first play after PHS receiver Bryce Wilson pulled down an Edwards’ bomb at the goal line. Wilson leaped to snag the 32-yard throw and managed to secure the ball as he fell to the turf.
Huskie freshman Caleb Bruce was a perfect six-for-six on extra-point kicks.
HUSKIES 42, WILDCATS 14
Pawhuska: 14-0-14-14 — 42
Chouteau: 0-6-14-14 — 14
P: Taylor Priest 31-yard pass from Zalin Edwards (Caleb Bruce kick), 5:46
P: Zalin Edwards 11-yard run (Bruce kick), 0:00
C: Austin Hershberger 4-yard run (run failed), 2:11
P: Edwards 3-yard run (Bruce kick), 9:54
P: Hayden Javellas 65-yard pass from Edwards (Bruce kick), 3:46
C: Isaac Carter 16-yard pass from Austin Hershberger (Hershberger run), 11:14
P: Matthew Taft 2-yard run (Bruce kick), 7:04
P: Taft 34-yard run (Bruce kick), 6:09
First downs: Pawhuska 15, Chouteau 9
Rushes-yards: PHS 31-127, C-M 34-5
Passing yards: Huskies 220, Wildcats 89
Pass comp-att-int’d: P 9-20-0, C 7-23-2
Fumbles lost: Pawhuska 2, Chouteau 2
Return yards: Huskies 29, Wildcats 124
Punts-avg-blked: P 4-21-2, C 3-18-0
Penalties-yards: PHS 15-110, C-M 5-35
Pawhuska Huskies (2-5, 2-1)
Rushing — Zalin Edwards 15 carries-51 yards (2 TDs), Matthew Taft 7-51 (2 TDs), Taylor Priest 1-6, Bryce Wilson 2-8, Daniel Nightengale 6-11.
Passing — Zalin Edwards 9 completions-20 attempts-220 yards (2 TDs).
Receiving — Taylor Priest 4 catches-90 yards (1 TD), Bryce Wilson 2-41, Hayden Javellas 1-65 (1 TD), John Bighorse 1-9, Connor McNeil 1-15.
Chouteau Wildcats (3-4, 1-3)
Rushing — Austin Hershberger 14 carries-12 yards (1 TD), Garrick Grossman 13-13, Robert Evans 3-7, Doug Moynahan 2-minus 15, Daniel Gordon 1-minus 10, Michael Ford 1-minus 2.
Passing — Doug Moynahan 0 completions-2 attempts, Austin Hershberger 7-20-89 yards (1 TD), Michael Ford 0-1.
Receiving — Isaac Carter 3 catches-69 yards (1 TD), Robert Evans 3-20, Daniel Gordon 1-0.