Editor's Note: Home teams in ALL CAPS
It has been a long eight months for high school football enthusiasts across the state.
For some, constantly checking the calendar every day of August and asking, “Are we there yet?” like an impatient child on a long car ride might’ve become the norm. Well, I’m here to give you a favorable answer to that burning question.
Yes, we’re here. We made it. It is football season once again in Oklahoma.
Although scrimmages are a fun way for teams to test themselves, they don’t quite measure up to the real thing. Some schools are so eager to play games that count, they schedule opponents before the “official” beginning of the season.
This is called Week Zero, and several teams in the Progress coverage area are partaking in the festivities.
Sequoyah, Claremore Christian, Foyil, Chelsea, Inola, Owasso, Rejoice Christian and Lincoln Christian are all in action, with four of them pairing up to play each other.
We start with a matchup that has been a staple in these parts since at least 1999 — Sequoyah versus Inola.
The Longhorns have owned the series the past three years, vanquishing the Eagles by an average score of 38-7. Many might look at this matchup and mark it as yet another win for Inola, but Rob Gilbreath has something brewing in the small community just north of Claremore.
Last year, Sequoyah football awoke from a long slumber that included a 22-game losing streak and consecutive 0-10 season in 2018 and 2019.
That all came to an end in 2020, though, for the Eagles overcame their season-opening 28-point loss to Inola and rattled off seven-consecutive wins on the way to a playoff berth in Class 2A.
An untimely COVID-19 outbreak forced Sequoyah to forfeit its postseason appearance, but the momentum gained throughout the season carried into the offseason and preseason.
Both teams return six starters on each side of the ball, which at first glance could favor the Longhorns given the recent history, but the Eagles appear to be trending upward more sharply.
Throw in the fact Inola is taking the field with an entirely new coaching staff, and Sequoyah suddenly looks to be in prime position to get back in the series win column for the first time since 2017.
I see a low-scoring game full of hard-hitting defense, but the Eagles score one late on the legs of Logan Hattaway to secure the victory … Sequoyah 22, INOLA 21
CLAREMORE CHRISTIAN 42, Foyil 20: Eight-man games are always hard to pick because the year-to-year turnover affects teams more so than squads in the 11-man ranks. Depth becomes a major issue when the roster rarely eclipses 15 players.
The Panthers return more starters this year, but they did in 2020 as well and fell to the Warriors 42-14 at home. With that in mind, I’m sticking with the recent trend and say CCS spoils Foyil coach Lance Williams’ return to the sideline after a two-year hiatus.
CHELSEA 30, Porter 20: I suspect this one will be closer than last year’s 41-18 whooping that Chelsea put on the Pirates, but the result remains the same.
The Green Dragons rushed for 349 yards in that win, and with leading rusher Cash Ramsey returning to lead the offense, they could easily accumulate similar numbers. Furthermore, the defense — which forced three turnovers against Porter — returns five.
A win here would be Chelsea’s first victory in a season-opening home game since 2011.
Owasso 37, EDMOND SANTA FE 26: This might be the best game in the state this week.
Edmond Santa Fe comes in with home-field advantage and the higher ranking in the Class 6A-I AP poll (No. 2), but No. 4 Owasso is loaded and is a popular favorite among media members to win its third state title since 2017.
The Wolves put up a decent fight here and score some points on a defense that returns only four starters, but quarterback Austin Havens proves to be too much as he overcomes an entirely new offensive line thanks to his seemingly endless supply of skill players.
CASHION 46, Rejoice Christian 18: Cashion went down as one of the best teams in state history last year after becoming the first school to finish 16-0, and it didn’t lose much of its star power.
Quarterback Ben Harman and his top two receivers are back, and though Rejoice Christian returns plenty from its young team in 2020, it won’t be enough to slow down the Wildcats.
LINCOLN CHRISTIAN 38, Beggs 20: Lincoln Christian shocked the state last season with its 36-8 rout of a Beggs team that featured multiple players with Division I offers.
The Demons again boast a talented squad, but the Bulldogs never seem to have a rebuilding year. With Max Brown, who accounted for 2,608 yards and 42 touchdowns in 2020, returning at quarterback behind a solid offensive line, look for Lincoln Christian to score lots of points despite lacking depth at the receiver position.
Beggs will have a little more success offensively this time around, but the Bulldogs’ returning defensive lot will be enough to limit the production of Oklahoma State commit CJ Brown.
Last year’s record: 83-11 (88.3%)