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Championship week for most high school football teams

Every high school football players’ dream is to reach for the gold ball.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – The 2017 Oklahoma high school football season winds to a close this weekend with the championship games in five of the nine classes. Here’s a look at the matchups in those classes (all games kick off at 7 p.m. Friday):

6A1: No. 2 Owasso Rams (11-1) vs. No. 1 Tulsa Union Redskins (12-0) / Chapman Stadium in Tulsa

Both schools met during the fifth week of the season, and the Redskins won, 44-41, in double overtime at Union High School. After a regulation tie of 34-34, both teams scored a touchdown in the first overtime, but the Rams failed to score on their next possession in the second OT. Noah Rauschenberg kicked a 26-yard field goal to lift the Redskins to victory.

Owasso head coach Bill Blankenship once served as Union’s head coach from 1992-2005 and led the Redskins to the state title three times (2002, 2004 and 2005) before becoming an assistant and head coach at the University of Tulsa. He took over as head coach for the Fayetteville (Arkansas) Bulldogs in 2016 and led them to a state championship. He resigned earlier this year to take over as coach at Owasso citing a return to live in the Tulsa area.

The Rams defeated Westmoore, 37-16, in the first round of the playoffs, and shutout Jenks, 21-0, in the semifinals. Union beat Edmond Santa Fe, 21-3, in the opening round and Broken Arrow, 21-0, in the semis.

Union is the defending Class 6A1 champions and has won nine state titles—five under current head coach Kirk Fridrich. Owasso won the state championship once, in 1974 when the Rams competed in Class 3A.

6A2: No. 6 Bixby Spartans (8-4) vs. No. 1 Booker T. Washington Hornets (11-1) / Hunter Dwelley Stadium, Jenks, Okla.

This game is a rematch from Week 9 when the Hornets shutout the Spartans, 21-0, in Bixby. The Spartans, who have won the last three state 6A2 gold balls, began the season with a 1-3 record but won five of their next six games including the loss to Washington. Bixby blew out No. 4 Stillwater, 41-14, in the first round of the playoffs and then stunned Midwest City, 14-12, in the semifinals.

The Hornets had no trouble with their first two playoff foes beating Putnam City, 56-21, and Lawton, 50-12. Washington hasn’t had too much trouble all season outscoring its opponents by an average of 44-14. The Hornets’ only loss was a 30-21 setback to West Monroe (Louisiana) High School in Week 3 of the season.

Bixby’s state championships have come in the last three years while Washington’s only state title was in 1996 when the Hornets were in Class A.

5A: No. 2 Bishop McGuinness Fighting Irish (12-1) vs. No. 1 Carl Albert Titans (13-0) / Miller Stadium / Yukon

The Irish and Titans are no strangers on the gridiron. The two teams have met eight times since McGuinness jumped to 5A five years ago. The Titans lead the series 5-3 including three wins in the playoffs. So, Friday’s championship matchup is a rematch of last year’s final. Carl Albert won 21-6 in Week 6 of the season, and the Titans won last year’s 5A crown with a 34-29 title game victory over the Irish.

McGuinness beat Del City, 28-21, in this year’s first round of the playoffs, defeated Tahlequah, 19-9, in the quarterfinals, and downed Noble, 38-10, in the semis. The Titans destroyed Lawton MacArthur, 41-15, in the opening round, beat Claremore, 49-23, in the quarterfinals, and hammered Skiatook, 42-12, in the semifinals.

Carl Albert is seeking its 13th state title. The Titans have won 11 5A championships and once in Class 4A in 1989. The Irish captured their only state crowns back-to-back in 2004 and 2005 in Class 4A.

4A: No. 6 Ada Cougars (10-3) vs. No. 3 Heritage Hall Chargers (13-0) / Choctaw High School

The Cougars and Chargers share a similar story—they both made the leap from Class 2A (where they had won some state championships) into 3A where each won the state title their first year in the higher class.

Ada did it in 1970 and Heritage Hall in 2010. Both schools rolled undefeated (Ada 13-0 and Heritage Hall 15-0) in their initial seasons in 3A.

The Cougars made the jump to Class 4A in 1990 and lost to Tulsa McLain in the final. Ada won the gold ball the following year in 4A.

The Chargers leaped to 4A a year ago and got bounced out of the quarterfinals. One reason was quarterback Blake Adams broke his collarbone in the season finale. The Chargers did win their first-round game but lost to Cascia Hall. Adams is healthy again, and he’s led Heritage Hall to an undefeated season. The senior quarterback hasn’t known many losses—Adams is 38-0 as the Chargers’ starter.

Ada defeated Elgin, 42-19, in the first round this year, edged Oologah-Talala, 27-20, in the quarterfinals, and Bethany, 26-22, in the semifinals. The Chargers beat Tuttle, 55-21, in the opening round, rolled over Broken Bow, 36-9, in the quarterfinals, and hammered Blanchard, 37-7, in the semis.

The Cougars have won 19 state football titles (seven in Class A, two in Class 2A, five in 3A, four in 4A and once in 5A). That 5A championship in 1996 is Ada’s last title. The Cougs have reached the championship since then but lost to Carl Albert.

The Chargers have won five gold balls—two in 2A and three in 3A.

C: No. 2 Pond Creek-Hunter Panthers (13-0) vs. No. 1 Tipton Tigers (12-1) / ASAP Energy Field at Milam Stadium / Weatherford

This game is a rematch of last year’s Class C final, which was also held in Weatherford. The Panthers were ranked No. 1 with an unblemished 13-0 mark. Tipton also entered the game with a 12-1 record. A missed two-point conversion on PC-Hunter’s fourth-quarter touchdown gave the Tigers a 28-26 lead, but the Panthers got another chance to score when Tipton fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The Tigers defense held and took possession with four minutes remaining to run out the clock.

PC-Hunter shutout Thackerville, 48-0 in the opening round of this year’s playoff, then edged Southwest Covenant, 34-30, in the quarterfinals, and defeated Tyrone, 40-8, in the semis. Tipton shut down Kremlin-Hillsdale, 46-0, and beat Regent Prep, 106-58, in the quarters, and defeated Timberlake, 56-8, in the semifinals. The Tigers’ 106 points against Regent Prep is a new record for most points scored by an Oklahoma high school football team. The game was called with seven minutes left in the game.

The Panthers have won three gold balls—1985 in Class B; 2001 and 2002 in Class C. Tipton is seeking its sixth state championship and fourth in the last six years. They won the gold ball in 1952, 1997, 2012, 2014, and 2016.

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Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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