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Verdigris sophomore Tyler Willis catches a pass over Vinita cornerback Tyler Floyd (7) during last week’s regular season finale.

Editor’s note: Home teams in ALL CAPS.

Last week’s record: 11-2 (84.6%)

Overall record: 109-15 (87.9%)

We made it. It is the first week of the Oklahoma high school football playoffs.

For many of us around the state, this is the unofficial beginning of the holiday season as 176 teams begin their quest to hoist the coveted Gold Ball in early December. That means 88 teams will see that journey end early by Friday night.

Not included in that group of teams is Claremore Christian, which competes in the Heartland Christian Athletic Association rather than the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.

The Warriors, who have played only seven games this season, will be playing for the HCAA Class 2A state championship at 5 p.m. at North Rock Creek High School in Shawnee.

This will be CCS’s third championship appearance in four seasons, having won the Class 2A title in 2018 and finishing as the Class 3A runner-up in 2020. The Warriors ran into perennial power Destiny Christian last year and fell 68-18, but that won’t be an issue this time around thanks to the drop in class.

There are only six teams in HCAA Class 2A, and CCS has defeated three of them this season by a combined score of 174-14. That isn’t including its 72-24 thrashing of Class 3A’s Cornerstone (Joplin, Mo.).

In other words, the Warriors are a dominant force in the small Christian-school league. Do the Lions of Southwest Christian Academy — based in Little Rock, Ark. — stand a chance against CCS coach Steve Robinett and the unstoppable force he has created?

Upon a quick look at SCA’s schedule, the answer is an emphatic no.

The Lions and the Warriors have common opponents, but CCS has looked much more impressive in its victories.

In fact, the Lions lost 46-38 to Cross Christian, a team the Warriors handled 56-8. Granted, SCA avenged that loss in a 40-22 decision last week to reach the title game, but it doesn’t compare to the drubbing CCS put on them.

The Warriors win this one with relative ease, giving rookie coach Robinett a special ending to his first year at the helm … Claremore Christian 45, Southwest Christian Academy 21

Verdigris 27, SEMINOLE 13: It’s not often you see two 9-1 teams battle it out in the first round, but here we are. Don’t let the Cardinals’ third-place finish District 3A-4 fool you, though, for they simply got the short end of the stick in a three-way tiebreaker. Verdigris is a title contender and will prove it once again with a dominant defensive performance on the road against an offense averaging 33.3 points per game.

BEGGS 49, Sequoyah 13: Despite being such a small town, Beggs is crawling with talent nearly unparalleled in Class 2A. Running back Red Martel, who is only a sophomore, has rushed for 1,326 yards and 18 touchdowns on only 93 carries (about 14.3 ypc) this season, so expect him to have a big game for the Golden Demons.

GARBER 54, Foyil 12: Lance Williams has done a phenomenal job rebuilding the Foyil program, but the Panthers aren’t ready to make a playoff run just yet. Garber is 9-1 and a potential dark horse in Class B, so an upset here would be shocking.

POTEAU 45, Catoosa 3: Similar to Foyil, Catoosa underwent quite a transformation under a new coach. Christian Hood, only 29 years old, turned a winless Indians team into a four-win playoff contender in only one season. However, Poteau is ranked No. 2 in Class 4A and is looking for its second title in three years. The Pirates have been held under 35 points just once all season.

Owasso 42, BROKEN ARROW 24: The Rams topped Broken Arrow 42-3 on Sept. 10, but that was more than two months ago. Josh Blankenship gets his Tigers to play his father’s team closer this time but is ultimately humbled again by dear ole dad, legendary coach Bill Blankenship.

REJOICE CHRISTIAN 46, Kiefer 31: This might be one of the most underrated matchups in the state, regardless of class. Rejoice Christian has an average margin of victory of 42.3 points per game since falling to Beggs 74-48 in Week 1, scoring 60-plus four times. However, at 38 points per game, Kiefer has proven it isn’t shy of the end zone.

COLLINSVILLE 45, Shawnee 17: As one of the favorites to win Class 5A, Collinsville shouldn’t have any troubles handling a Shawnee team enduring a three-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 150-47.

Bishop Kelley 35, PRYOR 20: Upset alert! After starting the season 0-4, the Comets have turned things around and are averaging about 44.7 points through their past six games. Pryor has been fairly consistent on its way to an 8-2 record, but I think Bishop Kelley sneaks up on the Tigers and shows why games aren’t played on paper.

LINCOLN CHRISTIAN 50, Vinita 14: Aside from a close game against Berryhill in Week 9, Vinita hasn’t faired well against top-tier opponents this season. Lincoln Christian exposes that weakness once more and sends the Hornets into next season with a three-game losing streak.

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