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Archive for: September 2016

Piedmont looks for first 2-0 start since 2005 tonight

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Piedmont did something in its season opener that no PHS team had done since 2006.

Photo by Holly Cowden Piedmont Jack Chester leaps high to snag a pass as El Reno's Jordan Melancon tries to tip the ball away during last week's game.

Photo by Holly Cowden
Piedmont Jack Chester leaps high to snag a pass as El Reno’s Jordan Melancon tries to tip the ball away during last week’s game.

The Wildcats won. They used a ground-and-pound offense to earn a 30-15 victory at El Reno.

The only way to improve on that?

Beating Weatherford Friday in Piedmont’s home opener set for a 6 p.m. kick. A win would mark Piedmont’s first 2-0 start to a season since 2005, when the Wildcats opened 5-0.

“Going out and beating a known opponent like Weatherford would be a huge boost for us confidence-wise,” head coach Drew Gossen said.

The season-opening win over El Reno did plenty for Piedmont’s confidence. The final score didn’t indicate just how badly the Wildcats outplayed the Indians. PHS rushed for 322 yards while limiting El Reno to just 17 yards on the ground and the Wildcats picked up 18 first downs to El Reno’s seven.

Other than minor tweaks, Piedmont doesn’t plan to change much this week.

“We need to continue to be physical and continue to execute our gameplan,” Gossen said.

Gossen does hope his team can commit fewer penalties, though. The Wildcats had 10 for 105 yards and negated an interception with a roughing the passer penalty. Conditioning, he said, will also be an added focus this week as Piedmont had trouble with cramping throughout last week’s game.

“Huge focus for us. We have to cut down on mistakes. There’s no way we’re going to beat the real solid teams on our schedule if we’re committing 10 penalties,” Gossen said.

Weatherford lost to Perryton, Texas, 30-0 in the opening week of the season, but was a playoff team in Class 4A last season and always plays a physical brand of football under veteran head coach Woody Roof.

“They’re a typical Weatherford team. They’re solid across the board and they’re tough-minded,” Gossen said. “We’re going to have to play a really sound game to beat them.”

The Eagles have beaten Piedmont in each of the last four seasons, including a 36-10 drubbing in Weatherford last season in which Piedmont gained only nine total yards.

This Wildcat team is 1 for 1 on bucking bad trends this season, though. Perhaps snapping a four-game losing skid to Weatherford is next on the list.

“I think we’ve got a really good chance to go out and play our style of football and take it to them,” Gossen said.

McGarraugh a steady senior presence for Piedmont

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Hannah McGarraugh has cemented herself as Piedmont’s steady senior setter this season, which is ironic considering that when her Piedmont career began four years ago, she was anything but steady.

Blake Colston/Gazette Hannah McGarraugh sets a ball in a game against PC West earlier this season.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Hannah McGarraugh sets a ball in a game against PC West earlier this season.

“I cried so much my freshman year. Really anytime I messed up,” she said. “Now I don’t really get stunned at all. I’m very mentally solid.”

On a team with big hitters, McGarraugh makes it all go as the team’s top setter and unquestioned leader. She’s also the team’s best passer and has even added hitting to her arsenal this season. She’s still hard on herself, but it’s for the best now.

“She’s extremely mentally focused and she’s determined to win. She’s her toughest critic, but I think that’s what makes her a good volleyball player,” head coach Lauren Bernhardt said.

McGarraugh hopes to parlay her growth as a player into a chance to play in college. Schools in Florida and Pennsylvania have been in contact with her, though none have extended scholarship offers yet. McGarraugh thinks finishing her senior season well along with another good showing in club season will help change that.

She’s only played volleyball since joining the team in Piedmont, so she’s short on experience, but she doesn’t focus on that.

“I’m a very diverse player, so what I might lack in experience, I make up for with my hustle, passing and hitting,” she said. “I think my hustle will appeal to a lot of schools.”

McGarraugh has played four different positions during her career and gives Bernhardt a player she knows will make tough plays in big matches.

“There’s times in a game that she’s at every corner of the floor in one play,” Bernhardt said. “She’ll get things done that really impress me. She never gives up on the ball and it shows.”

McGarraugh’s mettle was on display recently as Piedmont played five consecutive games without its best hitter Brooke Spears and starting libero Lydia Wade. The stretch could’ve been disastrous, but the Lady Wildcats made it through with a respectable 2-3 record, including losses to 10th-ranked Shawnee and Class 6A Choctaw.

“She’s the glue that’s been able to keep it together for us. Even though we’ve had some rocky situations, Hannah has kept us stable,” Bernhardt said.

 

 

 

 

 

Storts determined to help lead Piedmont to postseason

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Piedmont senior safety and wide receiver Jacob Storts came to a inspiring, yet scary realization during the Wildcats season finale last year against Bishop McGuinness.

Blake Colston/Gazette Jacob Storts drops into coverage in a scrimmage at PC West.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Jacob Storts drops into coverage in a scrimmage at PC West.

Storts was soon to be a senior who would enter his final season at Piedmont a few months later. Since then, he’s been all business.

“I’ve busted my butt this summer getting myself prepared for the season,” he said. “I’ve been been doing everything I can to get ready.”

He’s done it all with one goal in mind.

“We haven’t made the playoffs in I don’t know how long,” Storts said of Piedmont’s program which last made the postseason in 2011. “I want to be that team that turns it around. We want to be remembered as the team that helped turn the program around.”

If that’s to happen, Storts, a three-year contributor, will have a big role in the turnaround. He’s the starter at strong safety for PHS, plays on special teams and is in the rotation at wide receiver with a chance to step into an increased role on offense.

“Real excited about him and seeing what he can do in the future,” head coach Drew Gossen said. “We’re excited about his potential to be a playmaker for us this year. We’re hoping to see a lot out of him.”

Storts relishes the opportunity on offense, but Storts still prefers defense. Better to hit people than be hit by people, he said. He particularly enjoys Piedmont’s Cover 3 defense, that calls for Storts to roll up toward the line of scrimmage and play the run.

“I’m basically a linebacker. I have a little bit of pass responsibility, but most of it’s run,” he said. “I feel like I can just play. I get to get after them a little bit.”

White scores three times, Bakewell dominates as Piedmont beats El Reno

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

EL RENO — Jacob Bakewell can’t remember ever starting a game better than he started Piedmont’s season opener Friday night at El Reno.

Photo by Hugh Scott Piedmont's Jacob Bakewell runs through a tackle attempt in the Wildcats' 30-15 win over El Reno Friday.

Photo by Hugh Scott
Piedmont’s Jacob Bakewell runs through a tackle attempt in the Wildcats’ 30-15 win over El Reno Friday.

The senior linebacker collected two sacks and a tackle for loss in three plays on El Reno’s first possession of the night to set the tone in Piedmont’s 30-15 season opening victory over the Indians.

Fellow senior Landon White rushed 26 times for 203 yards and three touchdowns while Bakewell added 62 yards on 10 carries as the Wildcats rushed for 322 yards as a team.

“We knew we needed to hit them in the mouth early to win it and that’s what we tried to do,” Bakewell said. “This is definitely my favorite game I’ve ever played.”

After White ran 26 yards for Piedmont’s first touchdown and a 7-0 lead, Bakewell continued his torrid first half by teaming up with a host of Wildcats to sack El Reno quarterback Gage Armold for a safety.

“That kid is one of those kids that every coach wants to coach,” Piedmont head coach Drew Gossen said of Bakewell. “I love him and I’m so proud of him.”

White closed a dominant first half by Piedmont with a 17-yard touchdown run with 0:05 until half that was setup by a 34-yard scramble from quarterback Noah Ellis. Ellis finished the night 11 of 17 passing for 92 yards and also ran for 41 yards.

PHS outgained El Reno 231-4 in the first half and kept El Reno to -37 rushing yards.¬†White said his big first half — he carried 12 times for 95 yards — gave him an added punch, particularly his 26-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

“It set the tone for what I was going to do the rest of the game,” he said.

White’s only bad moment of the night came on the first play of the second half when he fumbled and El Reno recovered at Piedmont’s 27-yard line. Hunter Baker took a reverse pitch 27 yards for a touchdown on the next play and the Indians converted a two-point conversion to pull to within 16-8.

The Wildcats answered, though. Bakewell recovered a fumble at El Reno’s 25-yard line and White atoned for his miscue by rushing 10 yards for his final touchdown to quell El Reno’s rally.

“(My fumble) changed the momentum there for a second, but I knew I had to keep my head up and keep going and get in the end zone again,” he said.

Bakewell carried four times on Piedmont’s final touchdown drive, but Ellis eventually scored from two yards out on a zone read keeper to cap the drive.

“Still mad at Noah for that one,” Bakewell joked.

In each of the last two seasons, Piedmont was on the wrong side of lopsided losses in its season opener, and last year, Piedmont didn’t win its first game until Oct. 15.

Friday, the Wildcats flipped the script. Something Gossen thinks will pay big dividends moving forward.

“Having this to build on now and not having to wait six weeks to get it is awesome,” he said.

Piedmont looks to kick September blues tonight at El Reno

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

September hasn’t treated the Piedmont football team well in recent years.

Blake Colston/Gazette Noah Ellis rolls out of the pocket to make a pass earlier this preseason. Ellis and Piedmont open the season tonight at El Reno.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Noah Ellis rolls out of the pocket to make a pass earlier this preseason. Ellis and Piedmont open the season tonight at El Reno.

In the last two seasons, the Wildcats are 0-8 in September games and they’re just 1-11 dating back to 2013. That’s something Piedmont knows it has to change if it wants to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.

“The last couple years we’ve kind of started off slow. If you want to make a playoff run, you have to start strong then finish strong,” Senior quarterback Noah Ellis, one of 15 Wildcat seniors who hopes to turn Piedmont’s program back in the right direction this season, said.

Piedmont’s first chance to exorcise its September demons, comes today at El Reno in a game set to kickoff at 7 p.m. Although the game means nothing for the Wildcats’ district playoff positioning, it means plenty for morale and momentum.

“Some people look at it as it’s not a district game so it doesn’t really matter,” Ellis said, but we always want to take the field like we want to win. This game is no different than any other game.”

In each of the last two seasons, Piedmont opened with recent 5A heavyweight Skiatook. El Reno is no such animal, but will still be a challenge. Piedmont head coach Drew Gossen said the Indians are ‘tough and physical-minded’ with a talented backfield led by running back Hunter Cometsevah.

“They want to lineup and get after you,” he said. “That’s their style and their mentality.”

Piedmont isn’t completely healthy — it’ll be without three key players Friday — but the Wildcats are in better shape entering this season than either of the previous two.

“We’ve got a lot of guys on both sides of the ball that are really playing well and playing hard,” Gossen said.

Ellis said he feels more comfortable in the offense as a second-year starting quarterback and he’s more confident in an offensive line that returns four starters to protect him.

“We’re playing a lot better as a team. I feel like we all understand the offense a little more since last year it was brand new to us,” he said.

With all that in mind, the Wildcats could be poised to turn September into a month to remember for a change.

“We just need to take it one game at a time and get some wins under our belt to start the season,” Ellis said.

Meador enjoys three-sport grind

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

It’s hard for Piedmont senior Dylan Meador to pick his favorite sport.

Blake Colston/Gazette Dylan Meador runs to the football in a preseason scrimmage against Elk City.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Dylan Meador runs to the football in a preseason scrimmage against Elk City.

During baseball season, he loves baseball. When wrestling rolls around, that’s his favorite. And now, with the calendar turned to September, Meador is all football, all the time.

It’s that kind of dedication that makes him the kind of relentless, tough competitor he’s become. In a time when three-sport athletes are few and far between, ‘he’s a throw-back guy,’ head football coach Drew Gossen said.

“He just brings it all the time,” Gossen said. “He’s a guy that’s always pushing his teammates and pushing himself to get better. He’s a great kid to be around.”

His rugged, hard-nosed style translates well to the football field, where he starts as an inside linebacker and fullback for the Wildcats. The 5-foot-9, 220-pound Meador has also played center and even spent time as a running back. But it’s at linebacker, where he’s played for three seasons, he’s most comfortable.

“He has a take care of the stuff between the tackles mentality,” Gossen said. “He does a really good job with it. He has the intensity you need, really good tackler and moves strong to the ball.”

Meador might say fullback is his favorite position, though. The Piedmont coaching staff designed the spot with him in mind before last season, and it worked so well they made it a permanent fixture. Occasionally, Meador will catch a pass in the flat, but mostly it’s a no nonsense job of opening holes for running backs.

“It’s an, ‘I’m coming to get you and this is how it’s going to be’ type of deal,” Meador said of lead-blocking.

When football ends, it isn’t always easy to move from sport to sport. Meador wrestles at either 182 or 195 pounds in the winter, but prefers to play linebacker at 215 pounds, and there’s also baseball to consider.

It’s a demanding schedule, but Meador wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You have to do stuff for your team and be that multi-purpose player,” he said. “If they need you to wrestle 195 or 170, or need you to play fullback or center, you’ve got to what’s best for your team and go make plays.”

 

 

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