High school football season is just around the corner, and one team from Rogers County that is hoping to build on last season's success is Verdigris.
The Cardinals made it to the postseason last year for the first time since 2015. They finished with an overall record of 5-6 after a 61-21 loss at Lincoln Christian in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
District 3A-4 was one of the toughest in the state a year ago and should be once again this season.
Verdigris finished in fourth place last year with a 4-3 record in district play.
The nondistrict portion of the schedule features a pair of strong opponents as well.
The following is a breakdown of the schedule for the Cardinals with each game increasing in difficulty.
All games are slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
No. 10 | Stilwell
When: Game 3 | Friday, Sept. 20 | Homecoming at Cardinals Stadium
Stilwell, winless in 2018, replaces Nowata on the schedule.
Verdigris beat the Ironmen, 55-8, last season, and the result could be similar against the Indians.
The only obstacle for Verdigris could be the fact that this is the homecoming game. That often causes some distraction in game preparation.
The teams haven’t met since Stilwell won a 29-21 decision in 2013.
No. 9 | at Sequoyah
When: Game 8 | Friday, Oct. 24
Sequoyah has been a traditional power for a long time, but it suffered through an 0-10 season in 2018.
The Eagles have nowhere to go but up from there, though.
Records can also be thrown out the window when county rivals square off. The Cardinals won last season's game, 42-7.
Despite that lopsided result, this year’s seniors still have a losing record against the Eagles.
Sequoyah defeated Verdigris by a combined 111-21 in 2016 and 2017.
No. 8 | at Jay
When: Game 6 | Friday, Oct. 11
Jay claimed the district championship in 2017 but fell off to a 3-7 record in 2018.
Last year's game was tight until Verdigris pulled away late for a 45-24 victory.
This season’s meeting will mark the fourth-straight year the Cardinals and the Bulldogs battle.
Verdigris leads the series, 2-1, with the three contests being decided by an average margin of victory of 25.33 points.
No. 7 | Vinita
When: Game 5 | Friday, Oct. 4
The meeting last season was pivotal.
Verdigris rallied in the second half and eventually prevailed, 45-35.
The Hornets were 3-4 in the district but won all three of their nondistrict games to finish 6-4 overall.
No. 6 | Inola
When: Game 7 | Thursday, Oct. 17 | Fall Break
This is another Rogers County battle that figures to have an impact as it did last season.
Verdigris grinded out a 14-7 victory in overtime, finishing one game ahead of Inola in the district as a result. The Longhorns were 5-5 overall in 2018.
Cardinal seniors will be looking to even their career series against Inola, having suffered a pair of blowout losses in 2016 and 2017.
No. 5 | at Victory Christian
When: Game 2 | Friday, Sept. 13
Victory Christian has been a traditional power in different classes.
Verdigris put up a tough fight a year ago, but the Conquerors eventually claimed a 31-15 win on their way to an overall record of 7-3.
These two schools also met in 2015 — the last time the Cardinals qualified for the playoffs prior to last season.
Victory Christian cruised, 37-6, in a first-round game.
No. 4 | Locust Grove
When: Game 9 | Friday, Nov. 1 | Senior Night
Locust Grove, 8-3 last season, will be the Senior Night opponent for Verdigris. The Pirates won last year, 32-17, en route to securing a home game in the opening round of the postseason.
It was the first time the teams’ paths collided since 2011, when the Cardinals cruised to a 52-21 victory.
No. 3 | Cascia Hall
When: Game 4 | Friday, Sept. 27 | Youth Night
Cascia Hall, 7-4 a year ago, will be in town for Youth Night.
This was another close call for the Cardinals in last season's meeting.
Verdigris was ahead 14-7 at the half, but the Commandos dominated the second half and eventually won, 35-14.
According to IWasAtTheGame.com, the Cardinals are still searching for their first win over Cascia Hall.
No. 2 | at Sperry
When: Game 1 | Friday, Sept. 6
Sperry went 14-1 a year ago and won the Class 2A state championship, and it will have a celebration in front of their faithful to begin this season.
The meeting last year saw more frustration for Verdigris.
The Cardinals jumped ahead early once again, only to see Sperry take control in the second half. The end result was a 37-14 victory for the Pirates.
Verdigris hasn’t defeated Sperry since this year’s seniors were in eighth grade.
No. 1 | at Berryhill
When: Game 10 | Friday, Nov. 8
Berryhill is no stranger to success, and that was the case as well in 2018, for it won the district championship.
The Chiefs were a perfect 7-0 in district play and 11-1 overall.
Verdigris had a chance to secure a first-round playoff game with a win at home in the regular-season finale between the two teams last season.
Berryhill, however, had other ideas and rolled to a 55-26 win.
The Chiefs have averaged 59 points in the past four meetings with the Cardinals.
Progress sports editor Kevin Green contributed to this story.