Week 4 Picks.tif

Claremore coach Jarrett Hurt, right, and his coaching staff communicate play signals to players on the field during a road game against Catoosa last week.

Editor’s note: Home teams in ALL CAPS.

Last week’s record: 9-1 (90%)

Overall record: 36-3 (92.3%)

We’ve been spoiled the past few weeks.

Of the 39 games in the Rogers County area so far, 10 have been decided by seven points or less. Throw in a 10-point game between Catoosa and Pryor, and that is 11 great games.

Four of those were one-point decisions, two of which came at the expense of Claremore. Inola was involved in two one-pointers as well, but it walked away with wins on both occasions.

This week … won’t be nearly as fun. That is unfortunate because it is the beginning of district play, which means the glorified exhibitions are over – these games actually matter.

If my score predictions are accurate, the average point differential for district games will be 29.5. In other words, prepare yourself for a lot of blowouts. If you take out the one six-point game in my picks, the average margin of victory is a whopping 31.4 points per game.

I don’t pick shutouts, but three of the games listed below could easily end up that way.

Claremore Christian – Barnsdall is excluded from that average because the Warriors aren’t affiliated with the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA), therefore making that matchup a nondistrict contest. Even so, it might be the most intriguing game of the week.

With all that out of the way, let’s not drag this out any further.

We start with Claremore and its attempt to earn its first win of the season after a shocking loss at Catoosa last week. The Zebras are on the road again, traveling southwest for a showdown with Glenpool.

Last year, these teams were locked in a high-scoring affair in which Claremore came out on top 49-28, but I suspect there won’t be as many points this time around.

The Zebras have struggled offensively through the first three weeks at 18.7 points per game, but their defense has kept them in games while allowing only 21.3 ppg.

Glenpool, on the other hand, has been solid even in a 34-26 loss to Fort Gibson last week. At 2-1 entering district play, the Warriors are looking like a possible spoiler in 5A-4.

Claremore might’ve corrected some of its issues since last week, but it won’t be enough to overcome an upward-trending program that is playing in its third-consecutive home game … GLENPOOL 28, Claremore 17

VERDIGRIS 48, Jay 3: The Bulldogs opened the season with a shocking 46-42 victory over ranked Class 2A team Adair, but it has been all downhill since then, for they have suffered blowout losses to Miami and Grove in recent weeks.

After avoiding an upset at the hands of Victory Christian, Verdigris returns to its dominating form on Homecoming Night and easily cruises to 4-0. This game was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

SEQUOYAH 34, Kansas 14: Through three games, Kansas hasn’t shown much to prove it can hang with a team like Sequoyah. The Eagles are stout defensively, and their offense simply gets the job done. That will be enough to send Sequoyah to 3-1.

Barnsdall 31, CLAREMORE CHRISTIAN 30: I thought this was going to be a barnburner last year, but Barnsdall claimed an easy 52-6 win. Something tells me it’ll actually be close this time, though.

CCS has looked as dominant as ever through three games, averaging 56 points per game. The Panthers looked dominant as well before suffering a 48-0 loss to Summit Christian last week.

All things considered, Barnsdall gets the nod in a close one because it beat common opponent Foyil (46-0) slightly more than the Warriors did (42-14).

DEWAR 63, Foyil 8: Foyil stands little chance of upsetting Class B’s No. 3 team, which also happens to be the defending state champion. Dewar is averaging 58 points per game.

Chelsea 38, CHOUTEAU-MAZIE 18: A win here would already give the Green Dragons their best season since 2015 (4-7). Chelsea ended its three-game losing streak to Chouteau-Mazie last year, and it should have enough offensive firepower behind Cash Ramsey and Chase Smith to make it two straight over the Wildcats.

Berryhill 37, INOLA 13: Berryhill got taken to the woodshed last week against Class 4A No. 2 Cushing, but it is hard to punish a smaller school for going up a class and testing itself against a quality opponent.

The Chiefs are sneaky good and could possibly challenge the likes of Verdigris and Holland Hall in District 3A-4. This team is good; don’t let that 41-point loss to Cushing fool you. Victories over Fort Gibson and Cascia Hall are a testament to that.

Meanwhile, Inola has been scraping by opponents on its way to its first 3-0 start since 2015. That is especially impressive considering the Longhorns sport an entirely new coaching staff this season.

However, I think all those close games finally catch up with Inola. Berryhill gets back on track with a convincing win over a well-coached Longhorns squad.

Grove 50, OOLOGAH 32: The Ridgerunners have proven themselves to have an explosive offense thus far, scoring 52 points per game. But as if modeled after a Big 12 team from the late 2010s, their defense leaves a lot to be desired.

Grove’s one good defensive performance came against Jay in a 44-6 win, but that isn’t saying much given Jay’s resume. The points surrendered to Vinita (32) and Pryor (34) are more indicative of what the Ridgerunners can do defensively.

Oologah scores some points here, but the Grove offense is just too much.

CATOOSA 20, Skiatook 14: This was a tough one to pick.

On one hand, Catoosa looks massively improved from last year and is coming off a thrilling victory over Claremore. Meanwhile, Skiatook has been quite underwhelming and scored only seven points total its first two games in losses to Glenpool (40-0) and Collinsville (43-7). And you can’t put any stock in its 52-0 win over Nathan Hale because the Rangers are notoriously one of the worst teams in the state.

The formula I use to pick these games tells me Skiatook wins by seven, but my gut tells me the Indians get this dub. I’ve gone against the formula twice this season already, and it worked to my benefit.

Catoosa gets the nod here because of its run defense. The Bulldogs rarely throw the ball, and I believe Indians coach Christian Hood is prepared for that. After all, his defense held Claremore, which averaged 259 yards rushing the first two games, to 102 yards rushing on 34 carries.

Owasso 42, UNION 27: Union was my preseason pick to win Class 6A-I this year, but Owasso has proven itself to be the new favorite alongside Jenks.

The Rams are an offensive juggernaut, and their defense held a good Broken Arrow offense to three points two weeks ago. Union struggled against that same team only a week earlier, claiming a 35-28 win.

Although both teams are coming off a bye and the game is being played at Union’s new stadium, Owasso earns another impressive win.

REJOICE CHRISTIAN 43, Salina 24: Finally, a home game. The Eagles get to play on their home turf in Owasso after three road games to open the season.

Salina is improved this year and could cause some problems, but Rejoice takes care of business in its long-awaited homecoming.

TAHLEQUAH 41, Pryor 10: In this Battle of the Tigers, Tahlequah dominates defensively. This is by far the best defense Pryor has faced, and Kenny Davis’ team will struggle to find consistency as Tahlequah pulls away.

COLLINSVILLE 66, Nathan Hale 6: Even without star quarterback Andrew Carney, the Cardinals are really, really good. Nathan Hale is really … well, you get where I’m going with this.

Lincoln Christian 62, SEQUOYAH TAHLEQUAH 3: After missing all of last season because of the pandemic, this will be Sequoyah Tahlequah’s first district game since Nov. 8, 2019. Don’t expect a friendly “welcome back” gift from Lincoln Christian once the game kicks off, though.

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