3-2-1 ... High school football season is finally here.
When the bright lights of Lantow Field flicker on at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night, the chase for a state championship begins for both Claremore and Oologah.
The Zebras and Mustangs kick off the football season in the annual “Battle of Rogers County”.
Last fall, the Mustangs blanked Claremore, 16-0 in the season opener. Oologah went on to make the Class 4A state playoffs and lost to Oklahoma City Douglass in the quarterfinals.
Claremore, meanwhile, finished 4-7 and fourth in District 5A-4. The Zebras also reached the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs, before losing to eventual state champion Booker T. Washington.
Both teams, though, will open Thursday night with athletic starting quarterbacks that love to throw the football.
Matt Whatley, a sophomore for Claremore, and Zach Cantwell, a senior for Oologah, became the starting quarterbacks midway through the 2010 season.
Whatley and Cantwell will have the luxury of having several talented playmakers around them to help ease the pressure.
For Claremore, the offense centers around senior tailbacks Chase Talbert and Chris Szcinski as well as receivers Jordan Cunningham, Trey Dunlap and Kord Monaco.
A new face to the Claremore offensive attack who is expected to get carries in the backfield is senior fullback Brenton Washausen.
Oologah, meanwhile, will rely heavily on Cantwell’s explosive right arm and speedy wide receivers Dalton Barnes and Tyler Brunk.
Also expected to contribute for the Mustangs this season on offense is Lincoln Christian transfer running back JW Thomas and Blade Cantwell, the brother of starting quarterback Zach Cantwell.
Note: There will also be a softball game taking place at 4 p.m. for Claremore fans at Lady Zebra Complex on Thursday.