PRYOR, OK — The path gets steeper for each area team this week, with two teams (Pryor, Salina) hitting the road. The second round will weed out the contenders from the pretenders, and there are several juicy storylines to follow as Mayes County gears up for Round 2:
Pryor (8-3) at Lawton MacArthur (9-2), Saturday, 4 p.m.
Pryor has a chance to make it to the state semifinals for the first time in the modern era with a win over the fifth-ranked Highlanders Saturday. This game was moved back from Friday to give the No. 9 Tigers some respite from the 466-mile round-trip they’ll have to endure in this 5A quarterfinal.
Pryor wasn’t the only school in this matchup that escaped with a five-point win over an unlikely foe in its first-round game. MacArthur nearly dropped its first-rounder to 6-5 Edmond Deer Creek, which held a one-point lead over the Highlanders as late as the fourth quarter.
MacArthur has shown signs of mortality during the regular season too, losing at home to Del City Sept. 27 and to 6A No. 3 Lawton Sept. 13. The Highlanders have reeled off seven straight wins since the Del City loss, racking up at least 30 points in each victory.
The opposition will take a step up for the Tigers, who needed a last-second touchdown to dispatch 4-7 Skiatook Friday.
One thing Pryor has going for it is an aptitude for winning close games. In games decided by seven points or fewer, the Tigers are 4-1, and that excludes a 35-26 win over Claremore Oct. 17 that wasn’t decided until the final minutes.
This matchup is begging for a close outcome. Pryor’s dominating offensive line will be key to keep drives going and MacArthur’s fifth-best scoring offense in the state sidelined, but it could be the end of the ball for the Cinderella Tiger squad.