Editor’s note: Home teams in ALL CAPS.
Last week’s record: 11-1 (91.7%)
Overall record: 98-13 (88.3%)
The Oklahoma high school football regular season concludes this week, which means we’re close to being graced by some postseason action.
Entering Week 10, eight area teams have clinched a spot in the playoffs while two are battling to keep their seasons alive. Three squads have already been eliminated from contention.
Exact seedings for each team will be hashed out after all the games have gone final, but among those already in are Verdigris, Sequoyah, Foyil, Owasso, Rejoice Christian, Collinsville, Pryor and Lincoln Christian. Six of those are ranked in the AP poll, for which I am a weekly voter.
Fighting to advance are District 4A-3 rivals Oologah and Catoosa. The Indians won the head-to-head meeting 21-20 in a dramatic comeback Oct. 14, but the Mustangs currently boast the superior district record.
However, that is likely to change after this week.
Oologah is fourth with a win over No. 8 Bristow but can afford a loss if Catoosa also loses, whereas Catoosa will claim the final spot with a win over Cleveland paired with an Oologah loss. Given both team’s opponents this week, the Indians have the best chance to advance to the playoffs.
Claremore, Chelsea and Inola have been eliminated and are out of the postseason hunt.
Meanwhile, Claremore Christian — which doesn’t compete within the confines of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association — begins its postseason campaign in the Heartland Christian Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs.
Here are the most likely playoff seedings for each area team, given my game predictions below:
First: Rejoice Christian (2A-8), Collinsville (5A-4), Lincoln Christian (3A-3).
Second: Pryor (5A-4).
Third: Verdigris (3A-4), Owasso (6A-I-2).
Fourth: Sequoyah (2A-8), Foyil (B-8), Catoosa (4A-3).
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s dive into my picks for the final week of the regular season.
PRYOR 27, Claremore 17: Things could’ve been really interesting this week had the Zebras won any of their three district games decided by seven points or less. They didn’t, though, and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
No. 10 Pryor is likely locked in at second even with a loss here, but the Tigers don’t leave anything to chance and earn a second-consecutive victory over Claremore. Don’t be surprised if this is another close one for Jarrett Hurt’s squad.
Verdigris 34, VINITA 13: Even with last week’s upset over defending state champ Holland Hall, No. 4 Verdigris would need chaos to avoid opening the playoffs on the road. The Cardinals get their max district points here, but the Dutch and Berryhill — both of which sit ahead of Verdigris in the standings — should as well, pinning the Cardinals at third.
ADAIR 29, Sequoyah 24: This was a tough one to pick because Adair has looked underwhelming the past three weeks, but given the recent series history and the fact that Sequoyah is 1-3 on the road this season, I see the Warriors winning a close one.
It is a tossup, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles pull out the victory and create a three-way tie for second in 2A-8. They’d need Sperry to lose to Rejoice Christian for that to happen, which is likely (see my pick for that game below).
CLAREMORE CHRISTIAN 56, Arkansas Christian 8: The Warriors win this one quick and in a hurry. Arkansas Christian is 1-6 on the season and doesn’t even belong on the same field as Claremore Christian.
Drumright 50, FOYIL 28: Foyil was a major benefactor of a six-team district (eight is the norm), and though it could finish as high as third with a win Friday night, I foresee the Tornadoes taking that spot. Despite that, any playoff berth for the Panthers is a positive start to Lance Williams’ rebuild of the program.
Hominy 41, CHELSEA 22: Much like Claremore, Chelsea was the victim of several heartbreaking losses in district play. The Green Dragons lost to Caney Valley and Woodland by a combined three points, and winning just one of those games would’ve made this a playoff play-in game.
Unfortunately, their luck doesn’t improve this week as they drop a fifth-consecutive game to close the season.
HOLLAND HALL 56, Inola 7: After last week’s upset loss, No. 3 Holland Hall will be looking to make a statement to Class 3A that it remains a title contender. Inola, which has dropped six straight since starting 3-0, will finish winless in district play for the first time since 2006.
Bristow 46, OOLOGAH 16: Bristow is one team the Mustangs wish they didn’t have to meet in a must-win situation with a playoff spot on the line. The eighth-ranked Purple Pirates still have an avenue to the district title, so they won’t be lacking any motivation.
CATOOSA 30, Cleveland 20: The Indians wouldn’t be in this position had they not been upset by Miami on Oct. 22, but luckily that head-scratching loss didn’t doom their playoff hopes. Catoosa takes care of the Tigers, who are losers of four straight, and spoil county rival Oologah’s season in the process.
Owasso 56, PUTNAM CITY 14: Bill Blankenship and his No. 3 Rams use this trip to Oklahoma City as a tune-up for its upcoming rematch against Broken Arrow in the playoffs next week.
Rejoice Christian 49, SPERRY 29: Rejoice Christian wraps up the district title and a 9-1 regular season in only its second year in Class 2A.
Collinsville 44, TAHLEQUAH 20: Make that consecutive undefeated regular seasons for Collinsville (and third in four years). The second-ranked Cardinals cruise past Tahlequah, setting up what could be an epic run to the first football state championship in school history.
LINCOLN CHRISTIAN 40, Stigler 16: In a matchup between top-five teams, No. 1 Lincoln Christian takes care of business with relative ease to wrap up its third-consecutive undefeated regular season. The Bulldogs will undoubtedly be favored by many to raise the Gold Ball for the second time in three seasons.