And then there was one.
Yes, the number of Rogers County football teams still alive in the playoffs has dwindled significantly since last week. Of the seven that advanced to the postseason, only one remains – Verdigris.
Four of those teams lost outright and were eliminated. Two were forced to forfeit because of COVID-19.
First it was Sequoyah, and now it is Claremore.
Despite winning last week, the Zebras were forced to drop out of their second-round contest with Class 5A No. 3 Coweta thanks to an untimely coronavirus outbreak. The program received notice just over 28 hours before kickoff.
East Central, which Claremore defeated 36-28 last week, will now take on the Tigers instead. What a wild, wacky season this has been.
Because things have been so crazy, I’ve decided to make a change to how the Progress covers football.
From now until the end of the season, I will be adopting Owasso and Collinsville into my coverage plans. Surprise!
Although portions of those cities are technically in Rogers County, the school buildings are just beyond county lines. That is why we don’t typically cover Owasso and Collinsville in sports, but you’ll occasionally see news stories from those areas.
However, be prepared to see a lot more from the Rams and the Cardinals the next few weeks. Owasso is No. 1 in Class 6A-I while Collinsville is No. 2 in Class 5A, so both programs have a great chance to advance far into the postseason. The Rams host Mustang this week while the Cardinals are on a second-consecutive bye week and have advanced to the quarterfinals.
Lincoln Christian and Pryor are close to county lines as well, so I might also add them to the list at my discretion.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at my Round 2 picks:
VERDIGRIS 30, Berryhill 20: Verdigris bested the Chiefs 31-14 on Oct. 2, but it might be a bit closer this time around. Back then, Berryhill had endured three cancellations and had played only two games, one of which was against a JV team.
Despite that, it was a 14-7 game heading into the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs have had a mixed bag since then, going 2-2 with wins over Central and Seminole and losses to Holland Hall and Vinita. Last week’s 35-0 win over Seminole was especially surprising considering they shut out a Chieftains team that averaged 33 points per game coming into the matchup.
Limiting the Verdigris offense will be much tougher, though.
The Cardinals score 41.3 points per game, and they will be even more formidable if Dylan White returns to quarterback after suffering an injury Oct. 15 against Central. White threw for 202 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-29 passing in the first meeting against Berryhill, and he also rushed for a score.
Even if the Chiefs find a way to slow down Verdigris, they’ll still have to overcome a stout defense that has forced 19 turnovers this season.
The last time these teams met, the Cardinals forced three turnovers and sacked Berryhill quarterback Jake Miller six times.
OWASSO 45, Mustang 12: This is another rematch from the regular season. Owasso won 43-14 on Oct. 23, and it’ll be a similar outcome this time around. DeShawn Kinnard, who transferred from Claremore to Owasso in September, is averaging five carries per game since joining the Rams and will likely see more action Friday night.
OTHER PICKS OF INTEREST
LINCOLN CHRISTIAN 53, Central 14
McAlester 37, PRYOR 28
Last week’s record: 6-0
Overall record: 65-10 (86.7%)