The Pryor Times

September 30, 2013

The Porter Report

Dangerous Field

Chuck Porter
Sports Editor

PRYOR, OK — "I don't get no respect at all," the classic Rodney Dangerfield bit goes.

There was some talk this week that area football teams haven’t been getting the press they deserve. After last weekend’s games, that should be changing pretty quickly.

Take Locust Grove, for instance. The Pirates have started 4-0 on the field for the first time since 2006. They have a top-10 quarterback in the state and field the No. 10 scoring offense in Class 3A to go with the ninth-best scoring defense, even after surrendering 34 points to Tahlequah Sequoyah.

And yet, the Pirates only rated in the “Also Receiving Votes” section in the first three weeks in the press poll.

Of course, 3A is arguably the toughest classification in which to garner respect. Ten schools in 3A are still unbeaten, many of which (Seminole, Kingfisher and Blanchard, for instance) have certainly not gone starving in the “state qualifier” category.

But Locust Grove deserves some respect, and it finally cracked NewsOK.com’s top 10 this week. With a relatively soft couple of weeks ahead (0-4 Westville for homecoming Friday, 2-2 Jay Oct. 11), Locust should be 6-0 heading into a showdown at home Oct. 17 against its toughest district challenger, Hilldale.

Don’t count your chickens just yet, but a 9-1 record and a home playoff game (or two) wouldn’t be out of the question for this Pirate squad.

Before this season started, the only people who would have put Chouteau in the conversation for a playoff spot could have been found in the Wildcat weight room. Four games into the season, that point of conversation doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Welcome to the club, Chouteau Wildcats. You’ve earned your press.

The ‘Cats have already made huge strides this season, avenging last season’s losses to Warner and Chelsea. The latter win was Chouteau’s first against district competition since Steve Jobs announced something called the iPhone.

Chouteau’s seniors wrote down some goals before the season started, and one of them was a district win. Check. Now what? These waters are about as uncharted as the Bermuda Triangle — and nearly as treacherous.

Two more ranked opponents (Adair and Nowata) will oppose the ‘Cats later in district play, but two more wins should be all Chouteau needs to steal the fourth playoff spot. Keep your eyes peeled for showdowns against 0-4 Pawhuska Oct. 17 and 0-4 Caney Valley Oct. 25. Chouteau plays 1-3 Oklahoma Union Friday.

Again, counting chickens before they hatch. But four weeks ago, to us outsiders it didn’t even seem like Chouteau had a hen to lay the eggs.

Chouteau could be a trendy pick for the third spot in District 2A-7 behind Adair and Nowata. Those two squads will square off Friday in a game that will likely decide who gets home-field advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Adair’s continued success is just a bit surprising, considering the talent it lost to graduation and the number of young players Mark Lippe and his staff have been forced to put on active duty. Maybe it’s appropriate the Warriors wear green, but these saplings are budding into serious playoff contenders despite a setback Sept. 20 against Millwood.

Across the lake in Salina, the Wildcats have quietly clawed their way to a 3-1 record. After a season-opening loss at LG, Salina has outscored its opposition by an average of 33 points.

The Wildcats will get a chance to raise some eyebrows this Friday when they host Colcord. The Hornets are one of three teams in 2A-8, including Salina and Kansas, that sit at 3-1 with a 1-0 district mark. Everyone is chasing Commerce (4-0, 1-0).

After this week, the Wildcats will have a pretty good idea of where they will stack up in the race for one of four playoff spots in the district.

The hometown Pryor Tigers resurrected themselves from a 1-2 purgatory with a thrilling 42-41 overtime win over Coweta Friday, meaning, like all area teams, they have a 1-0 district record. That’s all that matters in this part of the season, anyway. The District 5A-4 race looks about as wide open as any, with five 1-3 teams, a pair of 2-2 squads and 3-1 Claremore.

And as far as getting press goes, a one-point overtime win is enough to make some headlines on any sports page.