By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When the Pawnee Black Bears met the Morrison Wildcats last season, they were trying to understand the system and concepts of their new coach Marlon Houston. With a season under their belts the Black Bears expect a much more competitive result at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in Pawnee.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Houston said. “We are ready to go out and compete.”
Morrison routed Pawnee 40-2 in Morrison last season. The Black Bears’ points were scored because the snap went over the Morrison punter’s head and out of the end zone. Morrison coach Cory Bales said he expects to see a different Pawnee squad.
“They are a lot more comfortable with what they are doing,” Bales said. “I expect it to be a hard-fought game.”
Bales said his team struggled in the first scrimmage but improved in the second.
“We gave up a lot of scores and didn’t move the ball well in the first scrimmage,” Bales said. “The second one was a little bit better. Offensively the passing game isn’t quite where I want it.”
Sophomore Jordan Quinata will be entering his first season as starting quarterback replacing Kyle Collins. Bales said he thinks the running game will do fine.
“Jordan will be able to do similiar to Kyle on running the ball,” Bales said. “He might be able to finish off some runs better. Jordan and (running back) Scotty Van Dorn will be a good one-two combo.”
Houston said it will come down to basics for his team to have a chance against the Wildcats.
“We have to keep from making turnovers, create turnovers on defense, win special teams and convert on offense,” Houston said.
Bales said his defense has to dictate what Pawnee can run.
“We cannot not let their big threats get open,” Bales said. “Browning Nicolet and Marlon Houston (Jr.) are good threats and they are older. We have to stop the run. We have our work cut out for us.”
Friday will be very special for the Coyle Bluejackets as they play their first game on their new field. Coyle hopes to make it extra special with a win over Covington-Douglas. Last season at Covington, Coyle lost 34-16 with penalties playing a big factor.
“We’ve never beaten them,” coach Shane Weathers said. “This is our 10th season and we haven’t beaten them. We are hoping to change that this year. We are going to have to play well, hold on to the ball and play penalty free.”
The Perkins-Tryon Demons have been looking forward to Friday’s game with Jones since the final seconds ran off of their 48-12 playoff defeat last November. The Demons beat Jones in last season’s opener in Perkins 18-15.
“P-T and Jones is always a battle,” Perkins-Tryon coach Lloyd Wertman said. “Why it’s not one of the top 10 games of the week, I don’t know.”
The Yale Bulldogs hope a change at quarterback will result in a victory against Hulbert. J.R. Wakely takes over behind center for Konner Fowler, who play tight end this season. Last year, Hulbert dominated Yale 29-6 at Yale. Coach Craig Ellis said tackling will be key.
“Last season we were over running the ball carrier,” Ellis said. “That’s something we need to improve this time around.”
The Cushing Tigers hope to repeat last season’s 34-6 outcome on the road at Mannford. Coach Barrett Shupe said he expects a much different Mannford team this season.
“All of their guys are back,” Shupe said. “They are going to be amped up playing at home.”
The game will also serve as Ian Jones debut at quarterback after he beat out Kyler Patterson. Shupe said he felt Jones was the best fit for his team.
“He manages the game well,” Shupe said. “He knows how to take care of the ball.”
The Perry Maroons hope to start their new coach Cameron Bennett off with a win against Blackwell in Perry on Friday. Bennett replaced Craig Hixon, who is now the coach at Woodward. Bennett’s comments on the opener were unavailable as of press time.