By Evan Grice
Just one week after knocking off the No. 4 ranked team in the state, Piedmont will get the ultimate chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
This week will see the Wildcats (4-3, 3-1) take on the top-ranked Anadarko Warriors (7-0, 4-0) for Senior Night at Stout Field with kickoff preceding Senior Night festivities which will begin at 7 p.m. with game time set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Coming into their match-up with the Warriors, PHS finds itself in the driver’s seat for a playoff position, tied with Woodward at 3-1, with the Boomers ahead by just one district point in the standings for second place.
Following their 45-19 upset of the Clinton Red Tornadoes last week, Piedmont put itself in a position to claim a playoff spot with wins in two of out their final three games of the season.
Last week for the Warriors saw them survive their closest game of the season thus far, a 18-15 come from behind victory over Woodward at home, which kept AHS atop the district 4A-1 standings and in Class 4A.
“Woodward was able to limit their mistakes, and that’s a huge key against a talented team like Anadarko,” Piedmont coach Craig Church said about the Warriors performance against the Boomers. “Everyone is capable of being beat. Woodward took advantage of the few mistakes they (Anadarko) made, and that’s something we have to do as well.”
Leading the Warriors from the quarterback position will be junior Brandon Pollard, who enters the game with 917 yards passing this season on 60-for-83 attempts with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions, with one of them coming last week against the Boomers. Pollard has been averaging 131 yards passing per game this season.
Pollard’s favorite targets this season has been junior wide receivers Brayden Alexander and Josh Parton.
Alexander will bring with him a total of 358 yards receiving this season on 23 catches, with an average of 15.57 yards per game and three touchdowns. Parton meanwhile has totaled 294 yards receiving on 16 catches with an average of 18.38 yards per game and five touchdowns this season.
Another huge reason behind the success of Anadarko this season has been due to the outstanding play from senior running back RJ Sink.
After adding 10 pounds in the offseason, Sink has been on a tear through teams this season, totaling 102 carries for 1,174 yards and 21 touchdowns. Sink averages 11.51 yards per carry, and 167.7 yards per game.
Sink finished last season with 1,836 yards rushing on 230 total carries for the Warriors, which included going for 142 yards with three touchdowns against Piedmont in a 42-3 victory last season over the Wildcats.
As a team, the Warriors are averaging 295.3 yards per game, with 8.91 yards per carry this season.
“Sink is very quick and has some great field vision,” Church said about the Warrior standout. “He’s also very strong when he needs to be and can cut very well also. He’s the real deal in my view.”
“They’ve (Anadarko) have got a very talented quarterback that can run and pass the ball very well, and has done so through every game this season.”
Piedmont will counter with a solid rusher of its own in senior Darrius Burris, who ran for a season-high 224 yards against Clinton with three touchdowns. Burris has rushed for more than 150 yards the past three games, and admits he’s looking forward to the challenge of the Warrior defense.
“Anadarko is a very good team defensively,” he said. “But, I look at it like a challenge because I’m a competitor. I feel like everyone is forgetting the fact that we have a solid running game ourselves. It’s going to be a good test to see where we are as a team this week.”
Speaking of defenses, this game will feature two solid defenses who haven’t been giving up many points the past few weeks.
After giving up an average of 27 points through the first four weeks of the season, the Wildcats defense has stepped up its game over the past three weeks, allowing just 33 total points, including pitching a shutout in the second half all three games.
Anadarko however hasn’t been giving up much all season, as the Warriors have allowed just 64 points all season, with Woodward scoring the most points at 15.
A big key to success for the Wildcats could lie in how they fare in the first half against Anadarko, where the Warriors are averaging 34 points per game in the first and second quarters this season, contrary to 20.5 points per game in the third and fourth quarters.
Last week against the Red Tornadoes, Piedmont was able to put up 24 points in the first half and counteract it with 21 more in the second half to seal the victory.
Anadarko meanwhile scored 12 of its 18 points in the first half, while claiming victory in the second half with scoring just six points in the third and fourth quarters combined.
One main weapon the Warriors will be depending on is sophomore Kaden Jackson, who leads the team with three sacks on the season. AHS will also be looking to two-way player Traymayne Wauahdooah, who is second on the team with two sacks and 40 tackles, and is third on the team with 233 yards rushing.
“There are very few, if any holes on both sides of the ball for this Anadarko team,” Church said. “They have a very fast secondary, and have a lot of good tacklers on defense. Their offensive line is very big and is going to be very physical as well against us. We need to be ready for anything they bring at us.”
Turnovers could be another interesting component to this contest, as the Wildcats have been averaging at least two turnovers the past three games.
However, the Warriors have only fumbled three times all season on offense, and haven’t lost any of them to the opposition. AHS has recovered eight fumbles this season to go with 10 interceptions.
A win for the Wildcats would not only send shock waves throughout Oklahoma for the second week in a row, but almost seal a playoff berth for the Wildcats.
“A win over a program like Anadarko would be huge for us,” Church said. “Not just in terms of confidence but what it would do when it comes to our playoff road map and the journey it would lead us on.”
Coach Church also had a special message for his group of 11 seniors which will be honored Friday night during pregame ceremonies at Stout Field.
“This group of seniors have provided excellent leadership in terms of their examples and their actions as well,” Church said. “It’s a very special group of young men who have a strong desire to leave their mark on this football program and have worked extremely hard to do so.”
Piedmont will hit the road next Friday night for a district match-up with Elgin.
The regular season finale will then be the following week against Weatherford.