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Wildcat Chat

Barry Jr. taught us about caring, friendship

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Last weekend, the Oklahoma sports landscape was rocked by the shocking and far-too-early death of KFOR sports director and WWLS radio personality Bob Barry Jr. in a motorcycle accident.

It was a solemn reminder that even larger-than-life figures like the 58-year-old Barry, who had a bright smile and infectious personality, can be gone in an instant.

It wasn’t necessary to know Barry personally to feel better for having met him. I met him on two separate occasions at college football games in the press box at OU, both in passing, yet each time he made a young, no-name sportswriter feel welcomed as part of the fraternity.  bbj

His cheery, down-to-earth demeanor made him easy to talk to and even easier to like. Everyone that met him had a quick, yet lasting memory of their meeting that brought a smile to their face long after.

Gazette advertising manager Randy Anderson shared a funny story about meeting Barry at a Sports Animal remote show at the grand opening of Great Plains National Bank in Piedmont in January of 2013. Read more →

What’s missing for PHS???

By Evan Grice

Sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

It’s no secret that Piedmont has a very successful athletic program that is only getting better.

Within three years of being a program, the Lady Wildcats soccer team has made two deep runs in the playoffs. Both boys and girls basketball have multiple state tournament appearances under their belts as well, and the same can be said for the Piedmont softball and baseball programs respectively.

Football might not have a state championship appearance, but over time that could eventually change.

Now we come to the Lady Wildcat volleyball program, which is entering its third season as a program. Read more →

4-18-14: The day my life changed

By Evan Grice

Sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

There’s really no simple way to describe what I’ve been through in the past week and a half.

I guess the easiest way to start would be at the beginning for those of you, who have not been informed about the events involving myself and my fiancée Melissa.

Friday April 18, started out as any normal day in our lives.

I accompanied my fiancée to her doctor’s appointment for her ankle at Southwest Orthopedics in OKC, which was followed by her scheduled physical therapy appointment next door at OCOM.

Later this same night I was scheduled to cover the Piedmont soccer teams as they took on Lawton MacArthur for Senior Night at Stout Field. Read more →

Here’s to trying new things

By Evan Grice

Sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

You know, the funny (or not so funny) thing about all of this cold weather, is how it always seems to adjust my schedule in the craziest of ways sometimes.

This past Friday night brought one of those instances where my schedule brought me something different, that I wasn’t expecting.

Due to the Deer Creek games being canceled so suddenly, I started off my evening traveling to Amber-Pocasset to watch the Okarche boys and girls’ basketball teams dismantle the Panthers and Lady Panthers with the littlest of ease. Read more →

The true meaning of victory

By Evan Grice

Sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

When it comes to sports, no matter what it is, the ultimate goal is to be victorious and claim the win on that given night.

But, if you ask some coaches, victory has absolutely nothing to do with whether his or her team has won.

This column is one that is deeply personal to me, and tells the story of a coach who measured victories by the amount of lives he touched, and the special moments he shared with those he loved. Read more →

Wildcats trounce Jets

By Greg Evans

Piedmont got in a quick 9-0 hole on Thursday night against Western Heights but the Wildcats then reeled off nine straight wins to notch a 45-24 victory over the Jets.

“Winning like that kind of takes the pressure off,” Coach Erik Ford said. “You can just go wrestle. You don’t have to worry about the team score. We knew they had some tough wrestlers at the upper weights, so it was good to have it taken care of before we got there.”

Steven Sharp, 106 pounds, lost the opening match of the dual by fall and Michael Lopez, 113 lbs., lost 10-6.

Coulton Parker started Piedmont’s rally by winning with a technical fall, 17-2, at 120 lbs. Alex Cardenas, 126 lbs.; Reece Henry, 132 lbs. and Francisco Lopez reeled off three straight falls for the Wildcats. The 9-0 hole had been turned into a 23-9 Piedmont advantage.

Shelby Miller won the 145 lbs. match with a 12-4 major decision. Chase Biggs, 152 lbs., won 9-2 to extend the lead to 30-9.

Dryden Abla, 160 lbs, and Brody Largent, 170 lbs., put the dual out of reach for the Wildcats with back-to-back falls. Piedmont lead 42-9.

Jesse Lopez won the 182 lbs. match 4-3 to extend Piedmont’s lead to 45-9.

Juan Guerrero, 195 lbs., lost by fall. Kaleb Richter lost the 220 lbs. match 10-3. Matt Wyatt lost the heavyweight match by fall.

“I think it’s good to end this part of the season like this,” Ford said of the team winning its last two duals before the winter break. “To get in the Suburban Conference dual finals, we’re going to have to beat El Reno and Guthrie. We’re still learning. Our first dual when we get back from break, against Cushing on Jan. 15, is going to be a big test. They are the No. 2 dual team in the state. We are rolling along pretty well at our lower and mid weights. Those guys are definitely starting to gel.”

Wildcats capitalize on Cache mistakes in win

By Greg Evans

Piedmont forced five Cache turnovers on Friday night to help themselves to a 50-32 win and the Wildcats moved to 1-1 in district play.

Cache stole an early lead from the Wildcats on the opening drive of the game thanks to a 45-yard pass. After going three and out, Piedmont was able to pin Cache at their own four and forced the first turnover of the night on a third and six. A couple plays later and Brett Adams was diving into the endzone to give Piedmont its first lead of the game.

Cache immediately answered on their next drive. Their option based attack taking full advantage of an aggressive Wildcat defense. A 21-yard pass later and the Bulldogs were up 12-7 with 57 second left in the first quarter. Not to be outdone by Cache, Piedmont put together a 44 second scoring drive. The Wildcats handed the ball off to running backs Darrius Burris and Mitchell McGinnis on every down. Burris crossed the line and the Wildcats converted a two point conversion with 13 seconds left in the first quarter to give Piedmont a 15-12 lead.

The score put Piedmont on top for good, but Cache wouldn’t quit.

Cache looked to get themselves on the board again midway through the second quarter. Their receiver reeled in a long pass but fumbled. Piedmont recovered and marched 98 yards down field. A balanced Wildcat offensive drive was capped with a 37-yard score from Burris.

Cache came out after the Burris score and put together another good drive. Piedmont was struggling to stop the option but the Bulldogs fumbled a handoff with 20 seconds left in the half. Piedmont recovered and was able to close out the half with a 22-12 lead.
The Wildcats got the ball out of the break and went back to work. Adams and Steffen Funkhouser connected for a touchdown score and Piedmont found themselves up 29-12. Cache just wouldn’t go away and their option attack produced another score midway through the third quarter. Piedmont turned the ball over on down on their next drive but another Cache mistake got the ball back in the Wildcats hands. Piedmont was able to pound the ball inside with Burris and allow Adams to, once again, dive into the endzone for a score. Piedmont lead 36-19 with under two minutes left in the third.

Cache pulled it back to 10 early in the fourth quarter but Adams found Funkhouser on the ensuing drive from 42 yards out to put Piedmont up 43-26. Following a Bulldog turnover on downs on the next drive, Burris plowed his way into the endzone to put the game fully out of reach.

“It comes down to our basic technique,” Hunter Amos said. “We drove them off the line. We were able to take it to them and they were tired by the end of the first quarter.”

Piedmont’s offensive line played lights out all night against Cache. They were able to help fuel a balanced Wildcat offense.

“That’s exactly how we want to be able to play; where we run to set up the pass,” Coach Craig Church said. “We have been on the opposite side of that a few times but it’s good to be in a position where you can do what (we did tonight). We can run, throw the play action pass and force them to load the box. That makes throwing the ball easier.”

Going into this week, Church said team discipline was a major focus against Cache.

“We did well,” Church said. “That offense is a unique challenge. Our guys did well and our adjustments in the second half payed off for us. Our offensive discipline was great. We were able to protect well and run. Our line played really well.”

Piedmont’s offensive line was the key all night. They were able to open holes for runners and allowed Adams and the backs time to work.

“(Cache) has both a three and a four man front,” Adams said. “We had great outside edge protection and Darrius and Mitchell were running well. Our offensive line was blocking well too. They got tired and we were hard to stop.”

“We worked hard all week,” Kyler Adams said. “We have to continue to come out and get better every day.”

It’s finally here

Greg Evans

Greg Evans
Sports Editor

Tuesday morning I found myself on the football team’s practice field and that can only mean one thing; athletics in Piedmont are starting.

The start of football practice is the official signifier of the beginning of the fall athletic season. With the softball team starting games today and the new volleyball team starting games on Tuesday, there are a lot of reasons to be excited if you are a Wildcat athletics fan.

As a sports writer, the summer months are rather odd. There are weeks where nothing is happening, then you have a pair of weeks where every team is holding some kind of camp. I miss the structured chaos that comes with the athletic season. Knowing that I’ll always have a sporting event to cover on a Tuesday night makes the hectic life I live a bit easier. Read more →

Most expected the move to 5A

Greg Evans

Greg Evans, sports editor

By Greg Evans
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com 

Last week, the top news in sports was Piedmont’s move up to Class 5A. This would have been a wildly surprising to some communities around the state, but residents of this community have been long awaiting the jump.

Coaches, administrators and fans around the community have been talking about the move for, at least, as long as I’ve been a part of the community. With that long of a lead up time, coaches are prepared for the move.

The odd position Piedmont has been in for the past few years has been that many of their sports were already a part of Class 5A.

Despite the jump for many programs, some individual sports, like track, know the 5A all too well.

Piedmont’s luxury in this situation is that coaches knew the move was coming and could prepare. By joining a conference like the Suburban Conference in basketball, softball (before Classes 5A and 6A transitioned to districts) and other sports, players have long been getting tuned for the class jump.

The enrollment numbers from the largest Class 5A school to the smallest school in the class vary by over 300 students a day. Compare that to the about 150 or so disparity in 4A and the wealth of talent at the largest schools in 5A can be a challenge. This is also the part where I bring up the fact that the enrollment between Broken Arrow, largest school in the state, and Booker T. Washington, smallest Class 6A school, is over 3,000 students a day.

Yeah.

The depth of the larger Class 5A teams might be the most difficult adjustment the Wildcats have to make in the next few years.

The odds of finding an Adrian Peterson or Brandon Weeden, for example, in a pool of 1,200 students would be much higher than finding such a player in a pool of 600. Even if we don’t look at All NCAA level players, the more students you have at a school, the better the odds are you can put together a complete team.

At smaller schools, coaches have to game plan to hide their weaknesses. In basketball for example; if you don’t have a tall man, you center your offense around the perimeter. The larger schools, in theory, should be more able to make a complete team.

Of course, if it was all about numbers then Broken Arrow would win 6A everything every year, right?

You can’t win with 100 untrained players and you can’t win with a hall of fame coach who can’t field a full roster. Once you strike that perfect balance, special things will happen.

The jump will mean different things for every sport at Piedmont, which I plan to talk about in due course. For now, let’s acknowledge that the years of preparation for this move has Piedmont in a situation where most of its sports have maneuvered in such a way where they should be ready to compete at the 5A level.

More state colleges moving to the NCAA

Greg Evans

Greg Evans, sports editor

More and more Oklahoma colleges are are moving from the NAIA up to the NCAA. That’s only a good thing for the state.

First, I have to stop and say that there are a lot of talented kids and incredible schools in the NAIA. The schools that play in the NAIA are good, fun to watch, schools but the exposure gained by a move to the NCAA can only mean good things for the state of Oklahoma.

Schools in the NCAA have much better exposure than the schools in the NAIA, for better or worse. When there are more schools in the state, getting more exposure on a more national level, people get to know the smaller schools that do so much for Oklahoma. And that exposure is something Oklahoma needs.

One of the cultural things that has always been interesting about the Oklahoma collegiate sports atmosphere is that you rarely see fans of the smaller schools in the state really show their school pride. Yes, you might see the occasional blue SWOSU or orange East Central shirt. However, those flags rarely fly as high as those of crimson of Oklahoma or the orange Oklahoma State. Golden Hurricane fans are even tough to find in this red and orange dominated state.

I’d love to be able to walk around the mall and see a wider selection of in state colleges represented, but it seems like the ‘red or orange or bust’ mentality is rooted deep in Oklahoma. I have friends who attended the University of Central Oklahoma, East Central, Northwestern and other colleges in the state. They have said that it’s more common to see a Cowboy or Sooner shirt than it is to see one of their own. Read more →

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