TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah’s playoff hopes were fully intact on the night of Sept. 21, when the Tigers blasted Grove in the District 5A-4 opener. Three and a half weeks later, those postseason chances are on the verge of waving goodbye.
In order to pencil in an 11th game of the season, Tahlequah must win its final three games of the regular season.
That starts Thursday night at Pryor.
“We know our backs are against the wall,” Tahlequah coach Brad Gilbert said.
The Tigers (1-6, 1-3 District 5A-4) find themselves in a must-win situation after dropping a gut-wrenching, 20-15 decision at Central last week. Tahlequah was on the receiving end of three Central fumbles, but in return, the Tigers offered up a fumble and two interceptions to cancel out the turnover battle.
“We had our chances to win at the end,” said Gilbert, whose club has lost its last night games away from home. “We had three trips inside the red zone and didn’t score. That hurts any team’s chance to win a game on Friday night.”
Remaining positive, though, Gilbert said his team showed up for practice Monday and churned out possibly the best session of the year.
“(Monday’s) practice was about as good as we’ve had all year,” Gilbert said. “The kids aren’t quitting. They were disappointed [after losing to Central], and I’m glad to see that because that means they care. Now we just hope to continue having good practices.”
After roaring out of the starting gate with impressive rushing statistics, Tahlequah running back Mason McMillan’s production has taken a hit during the Tigers’ current three-game losing skid. After leaving the Coweta game with a hip injury, McMillan was once again held under 100 yards rushing against Central, mustering only 59 yards on 16 carries.
At quarterback, David Dick’s production has also decreased. Against Central, Dick completed only five passes (on 14 attempts) while tossing two interceptions.