By Evan Grice
It all comes down to the final week of the season for the Piedmont Wildcats (4-5, 3-3) and their playoff dreams.
By the time the Wildcats game against the Weatherford Eagles (3-5, 2-4) ends on Friday night, PHS will know if it’s going to be playing at least one more week, or trading in its pads for basketball shoes.
Piedmont could also be waiting for a little bit for results after its game is finished as the Wildcats and Eagles will kickoff at 7 p.m. from Eagle Field Friday night.
While most of the focus from the outside is on the other games involving Clinton and Elgin, that’s not the case for the Wildcats as head Coach Craig Church stated in his pregame comments this week.
“We have our eyes set on the prize right now,” he said. “The playoffs are a very real option for this team, and we’re preparing appropriately as we should. Our focus is on the things that we can control during our game. We’re not worried about what other teams are going to be doing Friday night.”
In order for the Wildcats to live to play another week, they will first have to defeat an Eagles squad which is 3-1 at home this season, and hasn’t lost on their own field since a 46-14 loss to Clinton in the first week of district play.
“Weatherford has a solid quarterback and some good receivers as well,” Church said. “Defensively we’ll have to be ready for their secondary and be aware of their linebackers as well. They’re going to play us hard and we need to come ready to play Friday night.”
The Eagles are led by quarterback Garrett Gaunt who is 120-for-218 passing this season for a total of 1,453 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
Jacob Hoffman will be leading the rushing attack for the Eagles, as he enters the contest with 113 carries on the season for 491 yards. He’s averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season and has totaled eight touchdowns this year along with two fumbles.
Hoffman’s yards will be critical for an offense that has only averaged 92.4 yards per game on the ground this season with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Gaunt has a series of receivers he will be looking towards Friday night with one of them being CJ Davis, who leads the Eagles with 33 catches for 499 yards this season. Davis averages 15.1 yards per catch and has two touchdowns on the season.
Baylor Watkins is second in receiving with 224 yards on 14 catches with three touchdowns this season, while averaging 16 yards per catch.
Jay Whitson also has 200 yards receiving this year for the Eagles, as he has compiled 220 through eight games this season on 15 catches.
These two teams have one common opponent from this season, as Weatherford claimed a week one victory over Harrah, 27-14, a team that shutout the Wildcats in week two by a score of 29-0.
Piedmont will first have to win by more than 15 points to even start thinking about the playoffs, and then they will have to rely on outside help.
PHS will need victories from Woodward and Anadarko over Clinton and Elgin respectively by more than 15 points, which would bring the final two-playoff spots to a district point total. Should the Wildcats win by more than 15 points and have CHS and EHS lose by more than 15 points, the Wildcats would claim the third spot in the playoffs by virtue of having a superior district point total.
Another trend going against the Wildcats is how they have struggled on the road this season, having only won once away from Stout Field, which was the 52-0 victory over Elk City. Two out of the three losses away from home this season have come in district play for the Wildcats.
As if the trends this season away from home weren’t bad enough, the Wildcats recent history against Weatherford is also less than favorable.
After claiming a 28-21 victory in 2004 over the Eagles, Weatherford claimed five straight victories over the Wildcats from 2005-2009.
Last year it was the Eagles once again gaining the upper hand as they claimed a 32-20 victory over Piedmont in the final week of the season.
Piedmont enters its regular season finale against the Eagles on the heels of a two-game losing streak, which ties the longest this season. PHS hasn’t lost three straight games at all this season.
During the course of those two losses against Anadarko and Elgin, the Wildcats allowed a total of 61 points, contrary to allowing just 33 points during its three-game winning streak just two weeks ago.
Weatherford has generally been a low scoring team this season as the Eagles have only managed to average just 18.1 points per game on the offensive end this season. On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles are allowing 29.25 points per game this season.
WHS has also allowed opponents to rack up 343 yards per game this season, with 225.5 coming on the ground while 117.5 comes on the passing game for opponents, along with 23 rushing touchdowns.