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Ada Cougars Prepare To Battle No. 7 Noble
09/09/18 -

The Ada High football team had to forget about its subpar showing during a Week 1 loss at Ardmore in a hurry.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Bears broke a nine-year playoff drought by making the playoffs in 2016, but then they went a step further, beating Bishop Kelley and Ardmore on the road to advance to a somewhat surprising state semifinals berth last fall.

“When the kids showed up Monday, we finished a couple of corrections and started on Noble,” Chris Berus said Wednesday morning.

Noble senior gunslinger Hayden Lingle makes the Bears tick. During the Bears’ 42-21 win over Newcastle last week, Lingle — a preseason All-State candidate — threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half.

“He’s very slick in what he does offensively,” Berus said. “He’s very smooth in the RPO (run-pass option) game. They didn’t run him much in their first ballgame against Newcastle because they didn’t have to. But I think he’s got the ability in their RPO game to hand it off, to keep it and run it or throw the ball.”

Noble will run a spread offense and try to get the ball to a group of talented receivers that includes junior Antywan Smith, senior Bryan Henager and senior Isaiah Willhoite.

“They have a couple of kids that can run a little bit at the receiver position,” Berus said.

Junior Gavin Yeager led the Noble ground game against the Racers, scoring a pair of touchdowns.

Berus said he was impressed with Noble’s offensive line on film. Junior Hunter Largent (6-2, 315) and sophomore Gage Speck (6-2, 260) and junior Clay Wartchow (6-3, 275) appear to be some of the leaders of that group.

“Up front, they have big, big kids. They want to push you around a little bit,” Berus said.

Largent had 135 tackles and four sacks during a strong sophomore campaign last year, while Yeager had 105 tackles and seven sacks.

“They’ll go in and out of a 4-2 ... but it will look like a 4-3 because they’ll bring a safety down almost into the box to give them a bonus player against the run,” Berus said.

Looking back

Berus said a portion of Ada’s problems during last week’s season-opening 33-7 loss at No. 2 Ardmore was youth and inexperience.

“We are still in the process of just learning. We have a lot of youth in a lot of different areas,” he said. “Now it’s just about daily growing in your position. Learning how to practice with intensity all the time is still a part of the growth process. We have to continue to mature.”

Berus said Ada’s effort was fine. There were simply just too many turnovers and penalties to overcame against the talented Tigers.

“I think what we took away from the first ballgame is we will go compete, and we will play hard. I think we’re ahead of the curve from there,” he said.

“We have to grow in our execution offensively. We have to make sure we are sound in our schemes ... and understand how to play fast all the time,” Berus continued. “Defensively, there were times we didn’t tackle well in the open field or didn’t handle our assignments.”

There are certainly no panic buttons being pushed in the Ada football camp. After all, the Cougars lost to Ardmore in Game 1 last year, and the season turned out all right (a trip to the Class 4A title game).

“You hate that you don’t perform as well as you can against a rivalry team like that. That’s definitely not what we want to do. But as far as being concerned or worried about anything, we’re not,” Berus said.

“We understand where we’re at ... now it’s a matter of we as a system — both as players and coaches — putting our plan together and putting the pieces together to get to that endpoint that we all want.”

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