The Bulldogs came into this season with something to prove as the reigning Class 5A state champions.
They are aware of the expectations of the team by coaches and those closest to them, and it has been hard to ignore the community’s optimism, but it is fair to say there have been quite a few doubters along the way.
The Bulldogs kept winning and with their most recent 33-9 victory over the Duncan Demons, the excitement began to build.
Could it be that the No. 3 ranked Bulldogs can go the distance and defend their title?
It is possible, but there are still many challenges they must face.
One of the biggest obstacles is No. 4 ranked Ardmore Tigers, a team whose offense is as prolific as the Bulldogs’ and whose defense is nearly identical.
“Year in and year out they are athletic and fast and this year is no different,” said Altus Head Coach Todd Vargas. “We feel like we have had a good game plan against them the past two years and we feel like we have a good game plan this year also. Although our offenses aren’t exactly similar, they are similar enough that we get good looks in practice to prepare for them and our coaches and players are very excited for this game.”
The Bulldogs have only faced one other up-tempo offense this season — the Elk City Big Elks — and it was the only time a team scored more than 14 points against them.
But when Elk City was able to score 28 points, the Bulldogs took that energy and nearly doubled it, hanging 49 points on the Big Elks and running up 580 total yards of offense.
The Clinton Red Tornadoes scored 14 points against the Bulldogs, who again answered with more than double the offensive effort of 35 points and 460 yards total offense.
So far this season, when the Bulldogs are pushed, they push back and have answered an opponent’s score with one of their own.
But the Red Tornadoes are not the Ardmore Tigers and neither are the Big Elks.
This is a different challenge because each team brings a similar style of play to Altus and they have had tremendous success on both sides of the ball.
The Bulldogs average 34 points per game on offense, while only allowing 12 points per game on defense.
The Tigers average 42 points per game on offense, while allowing just 13.8 points per game on defense.
The Bulldogs average 368 yards per game while the Tigers average 363.4 per game.
The teams are just about evenly matched on paper, but the Bulldogs believe something is different.
“The answer is to slow down Ardmore and it is going to come down to our D-line beating them up front and causing problems,” said senior Kamron Canchola. “But I like our chances a lot and I think we are gonna take care of business and play Bulldog football.”
It is a sentiment that other players echo. They have no fear of their opponent, regardless of the team ranking.
The Bulldogs are coached by some of the best mentors in Oklahoma and they are prepared when they take the field.
They have yet to play a team like Ardmore, but then again, the Tigers have never played a team quite like these Bulldogs.
Ardmore (4-1) will come to Hightower Memorial Stadium to take on the undefeated Bulldogs in a game that is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Friday.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.