By Andrew Glover
CUSHING, Okla. —
Only 15 miles of highway separates Cushing High School from Perkins-Tryon High School. While some of their football players may be friends away from the football field, they will be battling each other at 7:30 p.m. Friday at O’Dell Field in Cushing to determine who will hang on to bragging rights for another season.
“It’s kind of cool to play against your friends,” Perkins-Tryon senior quarterback and defensive back Shelby Reese said. “You’ve played with them for so long. Even though we are friends, we have to put that aside on Friday and go for the win.”
Last season the Tigers defeated the Demons 42-27, for their first win in the series since 2006 and the first district matchup between the two rivals. While the final score favored Cushing, P-T held a 27-21 lead in the fourth quarter. That’s when Cushing turned to its star running back Gage Stallworth, who ran for 243 yards in the second half and scored four touchdowns. Stallworth said Cushing played really well.
“We came ready to play,” Stallworth said. “We knew we were the better team.”
Reese said it was tough letting last year’s game slip away but will have their eyes on Stallworth this season.
“Gage did a good job of running the ball and we couldn’t stop him,” Reese said. “We are going to be more prepared this year.”
The Demons (4-3, 2-2) may be a slight underdog against the undefeated Cushing Tigers (7-0, 3-0). P-T Senior receiver, running back and kicker Matt Waitt said that’s a role P-T is embracing.
“Hopefully we can clean some things up and catch (Cushing) when it’s riding high,” Waitt said. “If we can run the ball we have a good chance.”
Cushing senior defensive lineman Trevor Hubble said the Tigers are used to having a target on their back.
“We understand all the teams we play are going to give us their best shot,” Hubble said. “We just have to worry about ourselves and execute.”
Stallworth said opponents have keyed on him all season adding it actually helps his teams’ offense.
“When I’m being targeted, it opens up our passing game,” Stallworth said. “We have some guys who can run the ball well — Dakota Lee and Josh Houtchens. Also our quarterback can pass and run. In the second half, defense adjust to stop our whole offense instead of just me and that’s when I get my yards.”
A victory would mean a lot to both schools. For the Demons, it would allow them to move up in the district standings. Cushing would move within a victory of clinching District 2-3A. For the seniors of both schools it would give them lasting bragging rights.
“It will be a good game with Seminole,” Stallworth said. “We aren’t worried about that now, we are focused on Friday night against Perkins. If we play for 48 minutes we should win.”
“We need to have this victory,” Reese said. “It’s a good rivarly game and we enjoy it as a team. Our coaches will have us ready.”