PRYOR, OK —
Game of the Week: No. 9 Pryor (6-2, 5-0 District 5A-4) vs. No. 11 Collinsville (6-2, 4-1 5A-4), Friday, 7 p.m.
District 5A-4 was never supposed to come down to a Week 9 matchup between Pryor and Collinsville. East Central and Claremore were supposed to be the title favorites heading into this season, and Pryor wasn't supposed to make the playoffs after a Week 3 loss to Miami.
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Here we are, with two weeks to go in the 2013 regular season and with the hometown Tigers knocking on the door of a district championship. Tiger head coach Jason Freeman threw "supposed to" out the window a long time ago.
Pryor is looking at what could be a four-game home stand after a perfect 3-0 road record in 5A-4 play. All it needs to do is get past Collinsville — but that's not an easy task by any standard. The Cardinals come flying into the bout with title aspirations of their own, with running backs Ryan Haymaker and Shawn Kocheksi leading the way (1,478 yards, 16 TDs).
A Collinsville win would create a two-way tie atop the standings with East Central and Claremore lying in wait with a pair of losses apiece. Claremore holds the tiebreak over Collinsville and East Central, while Collinsville holds the tiebreak over just East Central.
But Pryor can avoid any tiebreak scenario with a win.
Backfield tandem Brennon Barth and Matt McGouldrick have been in rare form the last three weeks, especially in Friday's 41-15 shellacking at Tahlequah. For the Tigers to claim the district, those two will need to gut out a few big runs and get some support on defense. Look for ball-hawk defensive backs Anthony Martinez and Taylor Kegley to take aim at errant Cardinal passes and tackle Alex McCammon to make a some big negative yardage plays. That should be enough to come out on top.
Bold Prediction: Pryor 28, Collinsville 24
No. 9 Locust Grove (8-0, 4-0 District 3A-7) vs. Lincoln Christian (5-3, 3-1 3A-7), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
The last thing standing between Locust Grove and a district title — and likely an unbeaten season — is Lincoln Christian. The Pirates' feared Legion of Doom defense has been a bit less frightening the last couple weeks, surrendering 41 points in back-to-back games but somehow coming away with wins in both. The Bulldogs, winners of five of their last six, can put up points in bunches too. The team that makes a big stop late in the game will be the one that takes away the win. The edge goes to the home team on senior night.
Bold Prediction: Locust Grove 42, Lincoln Christian 37
Salina (6-2, 4-1 District 2A-8) vs. Quapaw (1-7, 1-4 2A-8), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Salina football program can take three huge steps in the next three weeks, starting with Friday at home against Quapaw, where the 'Cats can clinch a playoff berth. A playoff spot would be Salina's first since 2010, when the current crop of Wildcat seniors were freshmen. Look for Salina to clinch on senior night, even if it must play without senior quarterback Cale Backward, who left last week's game with a concussion.
Bold Prediction: Salina 54, Quapaw 6
Adair (7-1) vs. Westville (0-8), Friday, 7 p.m.
The biggest question in Adair Friday night will be which lasts longer: the senior night festivities or the game itself. Despite having just five seniors on the roster, the Warriors have trotted out the highest-scoring offense in Class 2A. Since its 24-13 win over Nowata Oct. 4, Adair has outscored its opponents 190-6. The Adair defense has an opportunity to record its third shutout in the last four weeks and fourth for the season.
Bold Prediction: Adair 65, Westville 0
Chouteau (3-5, 1-4 District 2A-7) vs. Nowata (7-1, 3-1 2A-7), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
This one's all for pride. Caney Valley eliminated the Wildcats from playoff contention last week, so the last two weeks of the season will be all about the seniors. They won Chouteau's first district game in six years and have a chance in the last two weeks to post four wins overall for the first time since 2005. Nowata is still in the hunt for a district title and is unlikely to give Chouteau an edge this week, however.
Bold Prediction: Nowata 44, Chouteau 12
Chuck's Week 8 Picks: 4-1
Overall: 30-8 (78.9 percent)