For football fans, there is nothing better than analyzing teams and schedules before the season starts.
It is our nature to predict which teams will be the best and which teams will have the most and least difficulty navigating through opponents.
I am no different in this regard when it comes to high school football. Even when I was in high school, I analyzed and kept track of teams that wouldn’t even play my school.
Yes, I was that into it.
More than six years have passed since I graduated high school, but my love for the sport hasn’t changed. In fact, it has grown.
Living in southern Tulsa, I have a lot of time to think while driving to Claremore during the week.
I was recently listening to The Franchise (107.9 FM), and the hosts were discussing the college football teams with the hardest and easiest schedules this season.
That got me thinking — which teams in Rogers County have the hardest road to the playoffs?
I now have the answer.
Using last season’s final RPI standings provided by IWasAtTheGame.com, I ranked all eight OSSAA football teams’ schedules in the Claremore Progress coverage area.
I’m not a mathematician, so I simply averaged those teams’ 2019 opponents based on their RPI points.
Only regular season results were considered.
IWasAtTheGame.com’s RPI rankings cover only the top 20 teams in each class, so any opponents below that weren’t included, though I still divided by 10 games to make for more realistic results.
Of course, programs can improve drastically from year to year, so take these strength of schedule rankings with a grain of salt. This is simply a fun exercise and in no way implies how teams will fare against their respective schedules.
This is how things turned out:
No. 1 | Sequoyah
Toughest opponent: Berryhill (67.17 RPI)
This isn’t too surprising considering the Eagles went 0-10 last season.
However, one thing that bodes well for Sequoyah this time around is it is hosting three of its five toughest opponents (Berryhill, Sperry and Hilldale).
Road games against Cascia Hall, Locust Grove, Inola, Verdigris and Vinita will be crucial to the Eagles’ success in 2019.
No. 2 | Oologah
Toughest opponent: Collinsville (64.97 RPI)
The Mustangs experienced a down year in 2018, mostly because of their brutal schedule.
Oologah played six playoff teams last season, three of which moved on to the quarterfinals or further. Not to mention two of those were in the top three of their respective RPI rankings, and two others were in the top eight.
The Mustangs went 1-5 against those teams, and like last year, the home-away ratio for these games is right down the middle at three apiece.
No. 3 | Claremore
Toughest opponent: Collinsville
I analyzed all Claremore’s 2019 schedule last week, so I’ll keep this one short.
The Zebras went 1-4 against their five toughest opponents (Collinsville, Tahlequah, Sapulpa, Skiatook and Bartlesville), getting outscored 114-55 in the process.
Ironically, Claremore had a higher RPI score than all but two of them.
No. 4 | Verdigris
Toughest opponent: Berryhill
Seven Verdigris opponents were in the top 20 of their respective class’ RPI ranking, and five of them — Berryhill, Sperry, Cascia Hall, Locust Grove and Victory Christian — registered scores of 60 or more in the formula.
With that in mind, the only reason the Cardinals aren’t higher on this list is because three of their opponents weren’t top-20 material (Stilwell, Jay and Sequoyah).
It won’t be getting nay easier for Verdigris, though, for three of five games against top five foes are on the road.
No. 5 | Inola
Toughest opponent: Berryhill
Inola deals with the same problem as district mates Verdigris and Sequoyah — too many heavy hitters in district.
Despite that, the Longhorns have an easier schedule than both of those schools because four opponents were omitted for not making the top 20 — Salina, Wyandotte, Sequoyah and Jay.
Inola also visits Lincoln Christian to open the season. LC logged an RPI score of 66.96, which is the third highest of any opponent for the eight Rogers County schools.
No. 6 | Catoosa
Toughest opponent: Wagoner (64.52 RPI)
Aside from a Week 4 meeting at Wagoner, Catoosa’s schedule is fairly easy until the second half of the season.
The back half is loaded, though, with four top-20 caliber teams in Grove, Cleveland, Bristow and Oologah.
Coweta, the Indians’ Week 3 opponent, just missed the cut in the Class 5A RPI rankings, so their schedule might be a little more difficult than numbers indicate.
No. 7 | Chelsea
Toughest opponent: Metro Christian (65.2 RPI)
Chelsea may have gone 0-10 last season, but its schedule doesn’t reflect that kind of difficulty.
Of the Dragons’ 10 opponents, only two cracked the top 20 in the Class 2A RPI — Metro Christian (No. 3) and Adair (No. 9).
Even Nowata, which won only one game in 2018, defeated Chelsea by double digits.
No. 8 | Foyil
Toughest opponent: Regent Prep (68.65 RPI)
Foyil crushed opponents to the tune of 41.11 points per game, pitching four shutouts on its way to the Class B playoffs.
However, the incredible success doesn’t exactly indicate a tough schedule, and the average RPI reflects that.
Against Regent Prep, the team with the highest RPI of all Rogers County opponents, the Panthers’ 58.12 RPI — 17th in Class B — showed in their 56-8 loss.
According to IWasAtTheGame.com, Foyil’s strength of schedule ranked 44th in the 47-team class.