On to the second week of state championships.
Officially, this will be the final week for football coverage by the Progress, for Lincoln Christian is the final team left. It has been quite a ride.
Whether the Bulldogs remain in our coverage next year remains to be seen, but it has been a fun experience following this team throughout its playoff run. After all, Lincoln Christian is perhaps one of the best teams in the state, regardless of class.
It is riding a 26-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since Nov. 23, 2018. Come Championship Friday at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium in Edmond, it will have been 750 days since the Bulldogs experienced an ‘L’.
And Lincoln Christian (12-0) has looked even more dominant than ever this year, averaging 50.2 points per game behind the play of quarterback Max Brown and receiver Kolbe Katsis.
However, another private-school power awaits Friday night — Holland Hall.
The Dutch have looked just as impressive in their first season in Class 3A after competing in Class 2A the past few years. They are scoring 48.9 points per game and also boast an undefeated record of 11-0.
Holland Hall was held under 42 points only once all season, and that came in a 31-7 victory over Berryhill on Oct. 15.
It is also worth mentioning the Dutch have pitched five shutouts while surrendering just six or seven points on four other occasions. Verdigris was an unfortunate victim of that stingy defense, falling 52-7 on Oct. 30.
Kingfisher and Stigler put up 21 and 14 the past two weeks, respectively, but Holland Hall won those games by an average of 33 points.
With all that in mind, this game has the potential to be a classic.
Both teams will put up points with their explosive offenses, but as is the case with most championship-type games, this one will be decided by defense.
The Dutch were my pick to win the Class 3A state title, and I think they find a way to make one more stop than the opposition to earn their first state championship since becoming a member of the Oklahoma Secondary School Athletics Association five seasons ago … Holland Hall 35, LINCOLN CHRISTIAN 28
CARL ALBERT 39, Bishop McGuinness 26: Death, taxes and Carl Albert vs. Bishop McGuinness for the Class 5A state championship.
This is the fourth time in the past five years these programs are meeting to decide a state title, which is insane. No one can beat these guys.
The Titans are going for their fifth-consecutive title and are the favorite. They already beat McGuinness this year 56-35, but it took a massive comeback after falling behind 28-7 in the first half.
If the Fighting Irish get a lead like that Saturday night, will they blow it once more? There is no telling, but they certainly look capable of ending the Carl Albert dynasty.
I think McGuinness keeps it closer in the rematch, but it would be silly to pick against a program that doesn’t lose at this stage. The Titans are 15-1 in state title games, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t reach No. 16.
WAGONER 29, Clinton 3: Everyone expected Wagoner to be here, but Clinton is the team no one saw coming.
The Red Tornadoes finished fourth in District 4A-1 but somehow managed to maneuver through a tough road, taking down defending champion Poteau and Blanchard – two top-five teams – on the road. It is a Cinderella run that has many people reminiscing about the good ole days when Clinton was competing for a state title nearly every year.
The Red Tornadoes played for seven-consecutive Gold Balls from 1992-1998, winning two of them. They returned to prominence a few years later, winning championships in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Their most recent came in 2012, but they also lost to Wagoner in the 2011 title game.
Clinton returning to the top of Class 4A would make for a great feel-good story, but Wagoner is simply too dominant.
The Bulldogs allow only 5.8 points per game, and though the Red Tornadoes’ isn’t much worse at 12.4 ppg, its offense leaves a lot to be desired. Clinton averages 21.8 points and managed just 17 and 10 in the upset wins over Poteau and Wagoner.
The Red Tornadoes will somewhat slow down Wagoner and its 45.2 ppg offensive attack, but their inability to score and score quickly will be too much to overcome.
TIMBERLAKE 40, Tyrone 28: These teams score lots and lots of points.
Timberlake is averaging 57.3 points per game while Tyrone puts up 52.3 a night, and neither are afraid to get in a shootout. Just two weeks ago, the Bobcats bested Midway 78-68 in the Class C quarterfinals. That isn’t a typo.
The Tigers haven’t been in any games that high in scoring, but they’ve experienced something close to it three times this season with results of 54-48, 66-36 and 50-30.
I am not confident in this pick, but I voted Timberlake No. 1 in Class C all year in the AP poll and also picked it to win the title in my playoff predictions, so I’ll stick with my initial choice.
Last week’s record: 4-0
Overall record: 77-10 (88.5%)