Saturday afternoon at Yukon, surrounded by just short of 10,000 hopeful fans, the Altus Bulldogs collectively climbed soul by soul, heart by heart and BROTHER by BROTHER as one deserving FAMILY on top of Mount 5A in Oklahoma.
ALTUS 31 – 28 was the final score over the Cardinals of Collinsville. Our boys in blue needed every last declining decimal on that clock to overcome the challenge Collinsville brought with them on Saturday.
It was the Cardinals first trip to the title game in their school’s history and they had their eyes on the same prize as our guys.
These two high school heavyweights were told by their governing body, the OSSAA, to meet in Yukon as a nuetral location near equidistant from each other. Altus from the West and Collinsville from the East were prepared for a showdown.
There had been hyping, promotional claims all week of a molded golden relic in this Yukon Valley. Apparantly, these shiny, shaped oblong objects were going to be dispersed to both of the squads in today’s games.
The rumor going throughout those in attendance was only one team had a rightful claim to the much more valuable golden relic. It was actually true. These teams were only allowed 48 mnutes to settle their differences.
After 47 minutes and 56.2 seconds had Transpired, both sides stood equal. Both teams had shown successful stints that were unstoppable only to have their momentum dramatically taken.
Altus came storming out of the gates and before Collinsville had even taken an offensive snap, Altus had the ball at the Collinsville 10 yard line working on putting a two touchdown lead on the Cardinals.
The Bulldogs had gone 80 yards already with huge chunks of yards available on the edges . Taven Birdow found reward to score on the left side to cap the drive.
Gabe Barton’s ability to put his boot into the ball made the extra point and made fielding his kickoff tough to handle for the Cardinals.
Honestly, that kick was especially deceiving in its flutter – knuckling wobbles. A deep swimming pool would’ve found it difficult to handle. The ball bounced the way of the blue kennels and just that quickly, this game was looking very familiar.
Watching the human highlight Jayden Benway lead his best friend and perhaps the 5A Player of the Year, Taven Birdow, along with juniors, Tito Jones and Sha’Quan French back on the field and line them up behind Shive, Lesley, Canchola, Herring and Stephens gave Bulldog fans enough to wonder if this game was going to be done early.
After a couple of downs of limited gains by Bulldog ball-carriers, Benway’s roll out pass right was tipped and into the diving arms of OU’s recent committment at linebacker, Levi Draper.
Draper had taken any hope of a bulldog blowout into his arms. It was the first time the Altus offense had turned the ball over in four games.
Collinsville (CC) would get on the board in the first half only after a lone punt blocker pushed in line with the Rugby style kick of the Bulldogs and got his hand on one. Behind Birdow the ball bounded.
It bounced the best just as the the Cardinal passed by and he carried it to the end zone.
After the PAT was good, the score was all knotted at 7.
The Bulldogs put a short drive together on four straight pass plays.
With just a few seconds remaining in the opening half, the Bulldogs told Gabe Barton to get his little leg into a 53 yard attempt headed North with the wind.
The score was tied and an accurate kick here would give the Bulldogs a spark. They would sit inside at halftime, reset, re-work some strategy and relax with the lead.
No such luck. Barton would contact the ball with a draw bias on it on top of a slight pull. The ball held straighter than I expected despite its immediate snap leftward.
I had a great view for it from field level standing in the Southeast corner with AHS boys hoops coach, Nathan Pennypacker, former Bulldog ’92 All-Stater we all call him Yo, and his