By Evan Grice
After three weeks of preparation, the road to the playoffs has officially begun for the Piedmont Wildcats.
This week will mark the opening round of district play, as the 1-2 Wildcats will make the 2 ½ hour trek to Woodward for a matchup against the Boomers Friday night at 7:30 p.m. from Boomer Stadium.
Woodward will bring a potent offense to the table, something the Wildcats are all too familiar with this season so far. WHS is averaging close to 44 points a game, while PHS has scored more than 40 points in one game this season, which came last week on homecoming.
The Boomers defense has been solid with the exception of one game this season, allowing just 13 points total to El Reno and Northwest Classen.
“Woodward is a very good football team,” Piedmont coach Craig Church said. “They have a very good quarterback and are very balanced offensively. We’ll have to watch their formations, and handle their running game as well. Defensively they are very sound and play very hard. “
The very good quarterback is Kale Hixon, who had an impressive performance against Northwest Classen last week. He totaled 220 yards rushing on just 11 carries with three touchdowns, including two passing touchdowns as well, in a 50-6 victory over the Knights.
In week two, Hixon totaled 309 yards through the air on 19-of-28 passing in a 35-34 defeat at Garden City, Kansas. Perhaps the only slow week Hixon had was in week one against the Indians in which he finished 13-of-15 passing for 167 yards while racking up 94 yards rushing on just 10 carries.
Hixon was substitued though in the second half with the Boomers well out in front against the El Reno Indians.
Piedmont quarterback Lucas Richert turned in his best game of the season so far passing last week against Western Heights, as he finished with 141 yards passing.
PHS will also be relying upon the skills of Darrius Burris, who had his lowest rushing total of the year last week, partly due to his sitting out the second half.
Burris has run for more than 100 yards in two games this season, with freshman Landon White also showing he can carry the load as he totaled 77 yards on 11 carries.
Blakely Liebmann will also look for another solid game, as he finished with 111 total yards rushing and receiving last week against Western Heights.
When the Wildcats last visited Boomer Stadium on October 7, 2011 PHS only needed seven points to come away with a 7-6 victory over Woodward. However, the Boomers returned the favor last season at Stout Field with a 28-7 victory.
Another trend going in the favor of the Wildcats is that under Coach Church, Piedmont has never lost its opening road district game.
Including defeating Woodward in 2011, PHS defeated Elgin last season in its first road district game of the season.
“We’re excited about the challenge of playing a very good team in our district opener,” Church said. “My first year we got them by a point and their place and last year they got us back. District play kicks the intensity up a few notches.
“This experience might be a little eye opening for some of the younger players. I think we’re more than ready for what’s to come this week. Every team is 0-0 this week so that’s another great thing about district play starting off.”
Piedmont will face off against Cache next week in the second week of district play with kickoff set for next Friday night at 7:30 p.m. from Stout Field.