We are one day away from Altus High School Bulldogs football. Let me rephrase. We are one day away from playoff football. The Altus Bulldogs host the Guthrie Bluejays tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. at Hightower Memorial Stadium. This is the first time since 2004 that Altus has been the site of a playoff game. All tickets are $7 and have been on sale since 8 a.m. Thursday at the Altus High School athletic office. Tickets can be purchased on Friday before the game, as well at the Altus High School main office.
Gates and ticket booths at the stadium will open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Seating is on a first come basis with no reserve section, as per OSSAA rules. Long lines are expected at the stadium ticket windows. Early purchases at the AHS office is encouraged. Altus and Guthrie boast large numbers of supporters. Attendance numbers will be large. This could very well be the largest crowd ever to see a game inside “The Rock.”
This is a huge game for both schools. The Bulldogs are 9-1 and surging. The Bulldogs are confident and desperately want to keep playing football next week.
The thing about playoff football is only a few teams get to do it each year. Being in the thick of the playoff bracket we easily forget that other schools didn’t prepare for a football game this week. Instead, they checked in their equipment and began bouncing basketballs or working on their crossfaces and half-nelsons (wrestling terminology).
There is such a finality to a “win or go home” type of game. In that light, what do you say to a bunch of high school athletes that you want to win so bad you can’t sleep the night before.
The Altus Bulldogs lead the entire state of Oklahoma, every team in every class, in rushing. It’s not even close. Altus is over 500 yards ahead of the second place team, Stratford in class A.
Guthrie allows approximately 80-85 yards rushing per game. They take pride in stopping the run. The Bulldogs are proud of their run game. The Bluejays think they can stop it. So, the tension builds.
Maybe, I should bring up the Bulldogs’ revenge factor going into this one. Perhaps, these youngsters need a reminder of our lingering pain Guthrie has put on us several times in our past.
The Bulldogs know full well that the team that wants to end our season tomorrow night is the same bunch that ended our great season a year ago. Guthrie has put an end to several more seasons. The only thing I’m going to say about the 1989 game is our Bulldogs were by far the best team in our class that year. We were undefeated, and after Guthrie came to town for the first round game, the Bulldogs football season was over and we entered basketball/wrestling season with heavy hearts.
If somehow, I could convey how brutal that feeling was to these Bulldogs, they would certainly do all in their power to avoid feeling the same. Ask Coach Torres or Coach Terry’s dad Mike, or KWHW sideline reporter Kevin Marple about it. If you do, you might see the face of broken men. It hurt. I am never going to talk about that game ever again. Bulldogs you have your own score to settle. You don’t need ours.
I’ve got it. I finally have the words to give you. Words you can add to your preparedness for the game. It’s simple really. It’s nothing new either. It is the same thing I would’ve told you at the beginning of the year.
We love you guys. Win or lose has no bearing on that nor will it ever. We can’t begin to convey the pride we have in you Bulldogs. We fly our flags and put our yard signs out. We quickly head out and purchase the new T-shirt made ready for the game tomorrow night. We have checked the weather and we are ready for it. We have stood in line and purchased our tickets. We have cleared our schedules and we will be inside that stadium with our cameras, our temporary voices (wonder how long those will last), and our eagerness on full scale readiness to see … Y O U.
We see the work you put in. We see the weights you push and pull on. We are confident in your work ethic.
We see the gameplans prepared for you by the best coaching staff in the state of Oklahoma. We are confident you will be ready.
We see the claims made on the backs of your beautiful jerseys. We know you claim to be a brotherhood. We are confident that is real and not just a word on your uniform.
We know you are a family. We hope you see us as part of your family too. We are confident you love us too.
You Bulldogs make us proud. We want only great successes for you in all you do. We know this is just a game in the big scheme of things. We need you to know this isn’t the end all be all to shape who you are in life. We know you will put every effort you have to go and win the game. We are confident.
Reach Brad Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org