It’s getting to the critical time of the season in high school football. A time when teams are fighting for victories to get into the playoffs.
For the Altus High Bulldogs they need at least two wins to get into the playoffs. It all begins Thursday when the Lawton MacArthur Highlanders come to town for a 7:30 p.m. game at Hightower Memorial Stadium.
The eighth ranked Highlanders come into the game with a 5-2 record overall and a 3-1 district mark. Altus is 2-5 and 2-2 in the league. After MacArthur, the Bulldogs will travel to Ardmore and return home to play Oklahoma City Capitol Hill .
Despite the struggles, AHS Head Coach Chad Stone believes his team has a legitimate shot at the playoffs. “We’re in control of our own destiny,” Stone said. “If we win all three games there is no scenario that keeps us out of the playoffs. If we win two of three games, as long as one is Ardmore we will be in the playoffs.”
It’s certainly an upbeat mood practice this week following last Friday’s 51-7 blow out of the Oklahoma City Southeast Spartans.
“We have a renewed confidence,” Stone said. “I think they (the players) realize when you show up and workout hard in practice it translates to working hard in a game and that translates into victories.”
The road to the playoffs won’t be easy. MacArthur comes to town with a talented, speedy football team.
“They bring a spread offense with at least 36 different formations and they seven to eight trick plays out of it,” Stone said. “As a coach that is something you don’t want to see in a short week.”
“They have good athletes that have good speed,” Stone said. “That quarterback (Ricky McCarty. 6-2, 180, Sr.) is a tough one. He can tuck it an run with it and he has had some success in the passing game.”
One of the Highlanders favorite play is the “jet pass” which used to be known as the jet sweep. Wide receiver Adrian Gaines (5-3,145) receives the ball from McCary in the shot gun but instead of handing it to him it is thrown to him as he crosses the backfield.
Running back Darius Graham (6-1, 218, Sr.) is a load for defenses to deal with. Graham considered to be a D-1 prospect has been plagued with injuries for a good part of the season. However, he is expected to be in the lineup on Thursday. He has rushed for more than 3000 yards in his career prior to the beginning of his senior season.
Defensively MacArthur lines up in both a three man and four man front and they swarm to the football.
Keys to victory
“We have to get off to a good start and we have to win the turnover battle,” Stone said. MacArthur has shown a tendency to turn the ball over a couple of times a game.
A plea from the coach to the fans
At last week’s game a Oklahoma City Southeast assistant coach in the press box pounded the counter in front of him angered by a play. That shattered a window and glass fell on at least one Spartan fan. He was cut in a couple of places, refused treatment and watched the entire game which was a blow out. Stone learned after the game that the man did not have a son playing, he just wanted to see his team play. “We don’t have that,” Stone said.
Stone did not want to be critical of the Altus fans, but was disappointed with the fans during the recent homecoming game against Del City. It was good crowd but at halftime a good number of the fans left the game. “It was frustrating, extremely frustrating,” Stone said. “And we don’t hardly make any noise.”
So the message from Stone to the fans come in big numbers and get loud. “Absolutely. These kids need you, this is a big game,” Stone said.
Bulldog notes: Stone was highly complimentary of his offensive line who had their best game of the season against Southeast. The unit block well in helping the Bulldogs to a 450 yard total offense night.
He cited center Montana Frailey, center and guard Johnathan Delzer, Cedrick Jameson, T.J. McAdams and tight end Nico Maldonado for good play. “They all did a great job,” Stone said.