|11/14/13 - By JEFF CALI - Ada News Sports Editor |
ADA — The Ada High football team is in the same spot it was a year ago. The Cougars are hosting a playoff game for the second straight year. Woodward is the first-round opponent.
However, this isn’t exactly déjŕ vu.
The Boomers are a much-improved team from a year ago. Older. Stronger. Nearly everybody back. And they have added Johnny Football Jr. at quarterback.
All that sets the stage for an epic showdown between the eighth-ranked Boomers (7-3) and the ninth-ranked Cougars (7-3) in a Class 4A first-round matchup Friday night at Norris Field.
“We’re excited that we’re hosting a playoff game. This is two years in a row that we’ve had a home playoff game. It’s a lot nicer than having to get on the bus and travel somewhere,” said Ada head coach Matt Weber.
Woodward is enjoying its first winning season since 2001. And the Boomers have earned it. They finished third in District 4A-1 behind No. 1 Anadarko and No. 7 Clinton but had opportunities to defeat them both in regular season matchups. Woodward dropped an 18-15 decision to Anadarko and lost to Clinton 19-14 last week. The Boomers only other loss — a 35-34 setback to Garden City, Kansas — could have also easily been a victory.
“Probably most people would tell you this is Woodward's best team since 1996 when they lost to McAlester in double overtime in the state semifinals,” said Woodward News editor Johnny McMahon.
After watching plenty of film on the Boomers, Weber is certainly a believer.
“They’re as good as any team out in that district (4A-1). They lost close games to Clinton and Anadarko. They had chances to win both of those ballgames and be district champs,” Weber said. “They’re as good a team as we’ve played all year.”
Senior quarterback Kale Hixon is the wildcard of the Woodward bunch. He joined the Boomers after his father, Craig Hixon, joined the Woodward coaching staff this season.
“We’ve been telling our kids, he’s the mini-Manziel of high school football,” Weber said of the 5-8 QB. “He’s really good when the play breaks down. Sometimes he’ll freelance back there and juke kids out and keep his eyes down field and throw one over the top of you. He’s just as scary when he takes off with it.”
Oddly enough, Hixon has a 315-yard rushing game this season (during a 70-21 win over Elk City) and a 309 yards passing game in the loss to Garden City. He’s also the team’s leading rusher on the season.
Hixon’s favorite receivers are 5-10 sophomore Kade Marlatt and 6-5 senior Kaleb Roach. And then there’s playmaker Micah Kee, a 6-0 senior that is a threat as a runner and receiver. Kee has rushed for 180 yards during a game this season.
“They spread you out and have a 6-5 receiver (Roach) and they play two or three different running backs, and then they’ll get in a doube-tight, double wing set and try to mash you. They go from one extreme to the other,” Weber said. “You have to prepare for a lot, but it’s the kids they have executing the plays that makes them so good.”
Woodward returns 10 starters on a defense that is giving up just 14.5 points per game. The Boomers have forced 30 turnovers, 17 of them interceptions. The Ada offense has thrown 14 interceptions this season.
“They’re outstanding on defense. We’re certainly going to have to play our best game to beat them,” Weber said.
The Ada coach said he and other 4A coaches believe the quest for a state championship is pretty wide open.
“I don’t think hardly anyone will have an easy time with their first-round game. Usually one team will get really hot at the right time and balls will bounce their way, and I think that happened with the state champion last year. Clinton was a very good team but they got hot at the right time. I think coach (Mike) Lee would tell you that. We hope it’s the Ada Cougars that get hot at the right time this year,” Weber said.
|10/31/13 - |
By JEFF CALI Ada News - Sports Editor
ADA — If there ever was a trap game on Ada’s 2013 football schedule, this Friday’s Week 9 road trip to McLoud is definitely it.
The Cougars are coming off an emotional, last-minute win over Harrah and have a date with No. 3 Douglass looming on Nov. 8 at Norris Field.
Enter the Redskins, who have not met their own expectations with a 4-4 overall mark and a 2-3 showing in District 4A-2 so far. McLoud’s three district setbacks could have certainly went the other way. The Redskins dropped a 21-12 decision to Glenpool, fell short in a 42-37 shootout at Mannford and last week pushed Douglass to the limit before leaving Oklahoma City with a narrow 13-7 setback.
So the Cougars must be careful and not get caught in the potential McLoud snare.
“I hope they won’t do that, but you never know with kids. I don’t think they will with the way they’ve approached every game every week,” said Ada head coach Matt Weber. “It’s going to be a tough test, a four-quarter ball game. We’re going to have to go up there and play our best.”
Ada defeated McLoud 40-14 during an undefeated regular season campaign in 2012, but the Cougars held a slim 14-0 lead at the half and were none too happy at that point in the contest.
“Last year in the district, other than Douglass, they played us better than anybody. They really got after us and they’re pretty much the same team they were last year,” Weber said. “They felt like they were going to be a playoff team and maybe a deep run playoff team this year. They’ve had some unfortunate losses — some that you wouldn’t expect.”
“They played the most talented team in our district, Douglass, to a 13-7 game last week.They were ahead of Glenpool 12-0 until eight minutes left in the game,” Webber added. “They’re an outstanding football team. They can’t make the playoffs now, so we figure we’re going to see the whole kitchen sink.”
Senior quarterback Joseph Wood, who threw for 1,587 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012, makes the McLoud offense go again this year.
“That’s what makes them really tough. They have a quarterback that can really throw it, and will take off with it,” Weber said. “They get in some sets that we’ve never seen before. To defend everyone, you have to pick your poison. Are you going to rush him? The only way you can get some heat on the guy is man up then you take a chance on giving up the big play. If you stay in coverage, you let him mess around back there and it’s hard to hold coverage for a long time. We’re going to have to mix it up and hopefully have some success. But this kid is outstanding.”
The fact that McLoud limited Douglass — a team that has scored 278 points so far this season — to 13 points says a lot about the Redskins’ defense.
“Defense is where they’re really good. They did a good job of defending us last year,” Weber said. “They bring linebackers a lot ... they’re probably one of the best defensive teams in our district. We’re going to have to hang on to the football and execute.”
Ada has already secured a playoff spot. Obviously the Cougars would love to win out, collect the District 4A-2 title and secure two possible home playoff spots.
“We can do no worse than third. Depending on what other people do, it could come down to (the Douglass game) for a home playoff game,” Weber said. “We don’t HAVE to depend on anyone else. That’s the good thing.”
Ada’s narrow 29-24 Week 8 home win over Harrah was the team’s third close call of the season. The Cougars have been clutch in tight situations.
“It’s was another great win, another comeback win. Something pretty cool about that is now you’re not scared to play from behind,” Weber said.
Fans didn’t have much to get nervous about in 2012 when Ada steamrolled most of its opponents. This year, they have been sitting on the edge of their seats quite often.
“We’ve done that a couple of times this year and our kids have stayed after it and pulled out wins. I’m hoping that type of resiliency will pay off down the line. Last year we were very rarely behind. I think the only time that group was behind was at Ardmore that first game all the way until Week 13,” Weber said. “It’s been different for us, but our kids have reacted the right way. We’ve played better than the week before.”
One of the biggest game-saving plays in the win over Harrah was when receiver Montrell Black split two defenders, made an incredible, one-handed grab and turned the catch into a huge 47-yard gain. It was one of the eight plays the Cougars needed to go 80 yards in the final 1:44 of the game.
“Someone was obviously going to have to make a play. They were backed up trying to keep everything in front of them. Montrell ran a good route and Cory laid the ball in there between two people. Montrell made an outstanding catch. He had a big night,” Weber said.
Black would finish with four catches for 121 yards and had two nice kickoff returns totaling 66 yards.
“He had several big returns and several big catches, but that one was pretty special. He stepped up and made a big play for us when we needed somebody to,” Weber said.
Black, a 5-9, 141-pound junior, had less than 100 yards receiving through Ada’s first seven games. The Cougars now have five players with at least nine catches.
“Every week we have several different personnel packages we throw at people ... that’s pretty neat looking at our stats as far as catches. Last year you had Easton (Pingleton, a 2012 All-Stater) way ahead of everybody in catches. This year we have five or six receivers with several catches,” Weber said.
With that many capable targets, what is a defense to do?
“Because we’re able to do that, in some ways we’re harder to defend. The athletes are different. Last year we had some big-time game-breakers. But now we’re able to spread the ball around between our tight ends and several receivers. It makes us hard to defend when we are executing,” he said. “We have confidence in all those guys.”
As a bonus, Ada tight ends Micah Simmer and Garrett Beam have combined for six touchdown receptions.
It’s really nice to have tight ends as part of your passing game. When you can throw to your tight ends, it makes you really hard to defense. Our run and pass are really complimenting each other right now,” he said.
|10/30/13 - |
The Ada Cougars travel to McLoud this Friday night for another important district contest. Game time is 7:30 PM.
The game could set up a possible district championship showdown next week with Douglass. Ada and Douglass are currently tied atop Class 4A's District 2 with perfect 5-0 records.
|10/24/13 - By Jeff Cali Ada News - Sports Editor |
ADA — Two of the top three teams in District 4A-2 will clash Friday night when No. 4 Ada plays host to No. 10 Harrah in a Week 8 showdown.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
After beating Glenpool in a heartpounding 29-27 victory last week, the Cougars enter the game at 6-1 overall and 4-0 in district play. Harrah has also won four straight district contests after starting the season 1-2. The Panthers dropped a 27-14 decision to Weatherford to start the season and dropped a narrow 14-17 decision to Chandler in Week 3. But Harrah’s most impressive victory of the season may have occurred in Week 2 when the Panthers bulldozed Piedmont 29-0. Yes, the same Piedmont team that blew past then-No. 6 Clinton 45-19 last Friday.
“Harrah is playing for the same thing we are with us both being undefeated in the district. And they’re now ahead of us in (district) points after last week. There’s a lot riding on this game for both of us,” said Ada head coach Matt Weber.”
New head coach Phil Webb has already helped Harrah do an amazing turnaround.
Last year Harrah finished the season at 1-9 — the lone victory a 45-6 win over Santa Fe South. The Panthers did play the likes of Piedmont (29-26), Glenpool (27-26), Mannford (14-7), Tecumseh (14-13) and McLoud (28-24) close in 2012. Ada, not so much. The Cougars whipped the Panthers 68-27.
Webb, who spent the past seven years as an assistant at Harrah, said he’s taken on the coaching philosophy instilled in him by former Putnam City coach Mike Little . Webb was a starting defensive back for PC North for the 1991 state championship team.
“Discipline, structure, organization, doing the intangibles. You know, the little things. Those are the things I’m hanging my hat on,” Webb told The Oklahoman last summer before a game was ever played.
Apparently, that strategy has worked.
“I think the biggest thing you can see with them is confidence. They got rolling early and have only lost two close games. They’re still really young. The main thing I can see is they are really sold to what they’re doing on both sides of the ball,” Weber said. “They’re very well-coached on both sides of the ball. They know what they are. They don’t try to do anything they can’t do.”
Weber said he thought they were an up-and-coming team even during the 2012 41-point runaway win.
“Last year, we caught fire in the first half and kind of put it out of reach. I think they were a lot better last year than that score indicated.
|10/23/13 - |
Ada defenders Jacob Reed (55), Riley Alexander (75) Garrett Beam (44), Clayton Henry (30) and Jeremiah Larry converge on Glenpool ball carrier Parker West during last week’s tense 29-27 Cougar road win. Ada improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in District 4A-2 with the victory and is ranked No. 4 in Class 4A this week.
The Cougars are back home this week with an important district contest against Harrah Friday night. Kickoff is 7:30 PM.
|Ada Cougar Football|