High school football season is near, and with several key starters returning for Claremore, the Zebras are expected to break into the upper echelon of Class 5A.
In anticipation of a possibly historic outing for coach Jarrett Hurt’s team, I looked at all 10 Claremore football games for the 2019 season, ranking them from 10 (worst) to 1 (best).
Factors include recent series history, difficulty and anticipated margin.
No. 10 | Will Rogers
When: Game 6 | Friday, Oct. 11 (7 p.m.) | at Booker T. Washington
The Ropers haven’t experienced victory on the gridiron since 2016 while still in Class 4A.
Will Rogers is 0-19 since, scoring only 84 points — a mere 4.42 points per game. It suffered 10 shutout losses during that time, including a 47-0 whipping from the Zebras last season.
Four of those shutouts came last season, when the Ropers gave up 40.4 points per game while managing only six touchdowns total themselves.
Last time: Claremore quarterback Charlie Murdock threw three first-half touchdown passes of 13, 16 and 14 yards to three different receivers.
Jace Hightower led the attack on the ground with two touchdowns rushing, and Coleman Parsons and Parker Hause rushed for one score apiece as well.
No. 9 | East Central
When: Game 5 | Friday, Oct. 4 (7 p.m.) | Homecoming at Lantow Field
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Since winning 13 games in 2012 and making a state championship appearance, East Central has undergone an unprecedented fall from grace.
The Cardinals haven’t had a winning season since, accumulating a 14-45 record from 2013-2018.
Claremore has won the last four meetings with the Cardinals as a result, and that trend doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
In those encounters, the Zebras outscored East Central by a 168-35 margin. Twenty-two of those 35 came in a 15-point loss in 2013.
Claremore even blanked the Cardinals, 49-0, in 2017.
Expect this one to be another easy win for the Zebras.
Last time: Murdock threw for 171 yards and three touchdowns — all to Dylan Kedzior — on 10-of-18 passing to lead Claremore to a 35-7 win.
Parsons finished with 56 yards rushing and a touchdown. Mason Hayes recovered a faulty snap in the end zone for a defensive touchdown as well.
No. 8 | Memorial
When: Game 7 | Thursday, Oct. 17 (Noon) | at LaFortune Stadium
As dominant as the Chargers have been in basketball, they’ve been equally atrocious on the gridiron.
Memorial is another one of those teams that struggles to find wins, though it managed four last season.
The Chargers haven’t posted a winning season since making the playoffs in 2015 and finishing 7-4. Similarly, they haven’t bested the Zebras since 2011.
Claremore owns the last four meetings with Memorial, outscoring it by 56 points in the previous two wins (34-14, 49-13).
However, the fact that this game is being played at noon on a Thursday adds some much-needed intrigue to the contest.
Could it be a trap game for the Zebras? Improbable, but that is why the games are played and not decided on paper.
Last time: Hightower scored on runs of 11, 24 and 10 yards in helping Claremore to a 34-14 victory.
A fumble recovery in the end zone by Jacob Velasquez in the opening quarter and a 10-yard pass from Murdock to Quentin Skinner accounted for the remainder of the Zebras’ points.
No. 7 | Sapulpa
When: Game 2 | Friday, Sep. 13 (7 p.m.) | Night of Champions at Lantow Field
This should be a good early-season measuring stick for Claremore on both sides of the ball.
Some of the Zebras’ best skill position players are back, but they managed only seven points against the Chieftains last season.
Those players will certainly be out for retribution, but Claremore will still be breaking in a young offensive line, so it’ll be interesting to see where the Zebras’ execution level lies early on.
Sapulpa suffered from Big 12 syndrome last season, scoring a lot of points while surrendering just as much if not more.
The Chieftains averaged 36.8 points per game last season on the way to a 7-4 record and a Class 6A II playoff berth. They scored 40 or more five times and 63 twice.
Conversely, Sapulpa surrendered 33.3 points per game.
Claremore will be looking for its first win over the Chieftains since 2014.
Last time: Sapulpa appeared to have a rather stout defense prior to district play last season, and the results were indicative of that.
The Chieftains surrendered 32 points through the first three game, few of which came in their 27-7 win over the Zebras.
Claremore’s lone score came late in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard connection between Murdock and Larry Ree.
Eli Williams, Sapulpa’s 6-foot-5, 220-pound dual-threat quarterback who threw two touchdowns and ran for two more against the Zebras, is back for his senior season.
No. 6 | Pryor
When: Game 9 | Friday, Nov. 1 (7 p.m.) | Senior Night at Lantow Field
These two rivals seem to never fail in providing an entertaining matchup.
Pryor has been down in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped it from competing with Claremore.
The past four meetings have been decided by an average of eight points per game, with the Zebras edging the Tigers in each.
Pryor hasn’t seen postseason action since 2014, but don’t let that fool you. The Tigers were at least somewhat competitive in five of their losses last season, and they are looking to improve on their 3-7 record and fight for a top-four spot in District 5A-4.
Even if the Tigers aren’t in playoff contention come Week 9, an upset could disrupt Claremore’s postseason destination.
A late-season meeting might bode well for Pryor as well.
Last time: The Tigers had the Zebras on the ropes early, jumping out to a 14-point lead in the first half.
A loss would’ve pushed Claremore from third in district to fourth, but Hurt’s squad avoided a first-round altercation with eventual semifinalist Bishop Kelley.
The Zebras scored the game’s final 28 points, holding Pryor scoreless in the second half on the way to a 42-28 win.
Hightower finished with 206 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries, putting the game away with a 56-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter.
Murdock threw for 161 yards, completing 10 of his 16 passes, and Kedzior returned a kickoff for a score in the first half.
Editor’s note: Come back tomorrow to see a breakdown of Claremore’s top five 2019 opponents.