Let’s be honest with each other right up front. Every Bulldog fan knew how the Bulldogs first round game was going to end.
The Bulldogs earned a trip to Coweta for the second round of playoffs by exacting some revenge on Guthrie 35-14.
Guthrie had stalled our 2014 season at their place last year. Revenge, the dish best served cold, actually came with decent weather, unlike a year ago.
The Bulldogs revenge was theirs and it was sweet. However, several Bulldogs of years past, including Yohance Brown, a 1991 All-State linebacker here and current A.D. and coach at Chickasha, was in the stands to enjoy some get-back on Guthrie.
Brown told his teammate from many moons ago, Justin Landers, that he “Came back home just to see the revenge take place.”
The atmosphere was electric. The anticipation escalated all week up through game day. The Bulldogs come out of the locker room for pre-game warmups and the home side bleachers were already packed. Bulldog fans had already begun to spill over into the Guthrie side of things.
Before the game, I wanted Coach Reed to know a few things from my viewpoint about the state of Altus Football. His response went along way to settle my eager nerves. As his statement sank in, a nice calm replaced the butterflies. I knew all was well.
I told him what he and his staff have done here in these two years is what Disney scripts are written on. In short work and long hours they have framed an empire’s foundation here and have done with all the right reason’s, efforts and intentions. The entire Bulldog program is teetering on rock star status at this point. I wished him good luck and Godspeed. Then reminded him that all of us are in it to win it. Then mentioned I never have seen anything like this here. I felt all elements are in place for a long, sustained run at Altus. I ended it hoping they (coaches and players) get to enjoy all this as much as the fans do.
“It’s been a first for me too,” said Coach Reed. “It’s unbelievable. THESE KIDS ARE GOING TO PLAY LIKE THEIR HAIR IS ON FIRE.”
Well, can he call it or not.
On the third Bulldog play, Taven Birdow goes 63 yards against a team that allows only 80 yards rushing per game. Bulldogs were up 7-0.
Immediately followed by a suffocating Bulldogs’ defense forcing a Guthrie punt that Mikey Abuan decided needed to be blocked. Bulldogs ball at the 6 yard line. Birdow forced his way in for his 2nd score already. Bulldogs were up 14-0.
The O-line was handling their business. Hassan Foye, Shannon Ybarra, Sean Torres and Baylor Feller were flying all over the field on defense. Tito Jones, Jake Vargas, Tyler Garcia and that Benway boy had em covered up on the pass. Birdow was imposing his will. Everything the Bulldogs had worked on and thought they could exploit going into Friday had worked already. The rest of the night was somewhat uneventful.
Except for a couple of minor happenings. By minor I mean Jayden Benway had interceptions, and in the most dramatic fashion. This quarterback of ours put on a show for the legends to speak on going forward.
His first pick came in the back of the south end zone while he was ball-hawking. He went way up to out jump the Guthrie receiver and pulled down the interception. The Rock erupted and Benway had tied Byron Paul’s record of 20 career interceptions. That record had stood for 40 years.
Benway had also tied the single season interception record also held by Byron Paul since 1976 at 10 picks.
Benway’s second came on a jumped out route on the far side. Benway had the pick easy and almost let it slide down his front because he was already full stride and all his saw ahead of him was a blue and white checkerboard followed by a chain link fence. The Bulldogs were up 35-14 at this point.
Just how loud the decibel level was inside The Rock at that moment, we will never know.
Benway now held the records outright. Byron Paul, through Larry “Madman” Madden, offered his satisfactory congratulations to Jayden which I thought was a great moment to be a Bulldog. Byron is the one to ask if you want to know how hard it is to get 10 picks in a year or 20 before you graduate.
The Benway show wasn’t over. However, I need to fit in the part where we talk about The Bulldog defense tossed in three, THREE goal line stands inside the five yard line turning Guthrie chances the other direction. Yet again, the Bulldogs opponent could not muster a point in the second half.
Coach Vargas mentioned how happy he was for Jayden’s ball hawking and the positions he was in to get the picks.
Offensively, The Bulldogs did what they needed to do to run clock and win. That’s what great teams do.
Taven had banged a third score in the end zone before half and Benway added one as well.
Benway felt it necessary to be the one to end Guthrie’s night by intercepting their final play of the game for his third pick of the night.
This tied his own record set against El Reno a year ago.
Wow… . what a night.
It’s now on to round two. The Bulldogs will road trip north and east to the opposite corner of the state to face Coweta.
Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076