PRYOR, OK —
Game of the Week: No. 11 Salina (6-1, 4-0 District 2A-8) at No. 5 Commerce (7-0, 4-0 2A-8), Friday, 7 p.m.
Adair got its shot at its district front-runner, Nowata, in Week 6. Pryor and Locust Grove each toppled first-place foes in Week 7. In Week 8, Salina finally gets its chance to seize control of District 2A-8 when it travels to unbeaten Commerce Friday.
For two teams that run the ball almost every down, Commerce and Salina couldn't attack opposing defenses more differently.
In 2012, Commerce rode star running backs DC Chance and Parker Morgan to the Class 2A state quarterfinals. Morgan graduated in May, so this season Commerce fans have marveled at the brand-new DC universe. Chance topped the 1,000-yard mark in Week 6 and averages over 15 yards per carry heading into Friday's titanic clash against the Wildcats.
Salina, meanwhile, cycles through a veritable stable of talented runners out of its wing-T offense, led by seniors Jon Parsons, Bret Fite, Cale Backward and Damon Gourd and junior Kyle Johnson. The quintet has combined for 1,770 yards and 22 touchdowns en route to a six-game winning streak. That swath of destruction includes district dark horses Colcord and Wyandotte after Salina held unbeaten Locust Grove to its lowest offensive output of the season (29 points) in a Week 1 loss.
Commerce, on the other hand, has raced through a flimsy opening slate. The only teams with winning records the Tigers have faced are Cherryvale (Kan.), Wyandotte and Kansas, which all float 4-3 marks.
Salina had some success stopping the Commerce attack in 2012, but the Tigers ultimately left Mayes County with a 14-6 win. Stopping Chance will be no easy task, but with fall break last week head coach Kyle Fowler and his staff had an extra day to formulate a containment plan for the elusive back. "We've got to be sound. That's the key," Fowler said.
If the 'Cats can zero in on Chance and put pressure on quarterback Jameson Blake (44 percent completion rate), they will have a great shot at the upset.
Bold Prediction: Commerce 24, Salina 14
No. 10 Pryor (5-2, 4-0 District 5A-4) at Tahlequah (1-6, 1-3 5A-4), Friday, 7 p.m.
Pryor head coach Jason Freeman said after last week's win over Claremore that he didn't care if every win was by one point. In fact, the nine-point margin over the Zebras was the Tigers' largest in district play. 5A-4 is the tightest district in the class, but after the season-defining win Thursday, Pryor's confidence level is running high. Tahlequah's is waning after a 25-23 loss to Central, and now finds itself in a win-to-stay-alive situation against Pryor. Expect Tulsa World Athlete of the Week Brennon Barth and Pryor to run away with this one late and stay atop the district standings.
Bold Prediction: Pryor 45, Tahlequah 24
No. 10 Locust Grove (7-0) at Dewey (4-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Look up "trap game" in the dictionary and circled next to it in red ink will be the Locust Grove-Dewey matchup Friday. Sandwiched between the emotional Hilldale win and a potential district-clinching senior night contest with Lincoln Christian Nov. 1, non-district foe Dewey is primed to play spoiler. The game may not matter in the standings, but after felling its biggest obstacle to a perfect regular season last week, Head coach Matt Hennesy's squad (including Tulsa World Player of the Week Cory Rohde) needs to be on high alert when it boards the bus Friday if it wants to be 8-0 Saturday morning.
Bold Prediction: Locust Grove 43, Dewey 12
No. 6 Adair (6-1, 4-0 District 2A-7) vs. Oklahoma Union (3-4, 1-2 2A-7), Friday, 7 p.m.
As with every team on the remaining Adair slate, the Warrior offense will prove too much for Oklahoma Union to handle, and Adair will send the Cougars back to South Coffeyville with a loss. Two more intriguing subplots here: Can Adair's No. 1 scoring offense put up 60 for the third-straight week? And how will the young Warrior players handle being favored in every game for the next month? The schedule will toughen up in the playoffs and Adair will need to respond to adversity — likely the first time it will face any since its Week 6 win over Nowata.
Bold Prediction: Adair 55, Oklahoma Union 6
Chouteau (3-4, 1-2 2A-7) at Caney Valley (0-7, 0-4 2A-7), Friday, 7 p.m.
There doesn't appear to be a better way for Chouteau to right the ship than a matchup with the worst scoring offense in all of Class 2A. Caney Valley has stumbled to a meager 6.2 points per game while allowing 40.4. The Trojans may be just the cure for the ailing Wildcats, who stayed healthy deep into the season before a slew of injuries to key players contributed to losses at Adair Oct. 11 and home against Pawhuska last week. Chouteau faces a pair of must-win games this week and Nov. 1 at home against Nowata to stay alive in the 2A-7 playoff chase.
Bold Prediction: Chouteau 24, Caney Valley 8
Chuck's Week 7 Picks: 3-2