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Verdigris linebacker Reese Roller (11) springs forward to sack Vinita quarterback Gunner Huffman (3) during Friday's District 3A-4 action.

Although a third-place finish in District 3A-4 couldn’t be avoided, Verdigris once again proved itself to be a title contender.

The fifth-ranked Cardinals let Vinita hang around in the first half but pulled away in the second, wrapping up the best regular-season finish in school history with a 43-12 road victory. Verdigris, now ranked fourth, will play at new No. 5 Seminole (9-1 overall, 6-1 3A-3) in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Cardinals (9-1, 6-1 2A-8) held the Hornets, who came into the game averaging 36 points per game, to only 178 yards on 53 while managing seven sacks and returning two interceptions for touchdowns.

Evan Anderson and Caden Parnell both snagged a pick-six, with the first coming in the opening quarter and the second coming as the final score in the fourth.

Parnell had a sack as well, but that was only the beginning of his contributions to the blowout victory. He also rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and tallied one reception for 17 yards.

Reese Roller — who finished with 15 tackles in all and rushed for 40 yards and two scores on four carries — led Verdigris with four sacks.

Junior quarterback Dylan White accounted for 216 of the Cardinals’ 412 yards, completing 13 of 19 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown while also logging 28 yards rushing on four carries (7 ypc).

His 49-yard touchdown strike to Isiak Layton in the second quarter gave Verdigris a 22-12 halftime cushion, serving as the beginning of a run that saw it score 29 points unanswered.

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