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Cougars Host Rival Ardmore Tigers Friday Night
09/06/19 -

All the I’s are dotted. There may be a T or two still left to cross before Friday night. However, with all the spring, summer and fall workouts behind them to get to this point, the 2019 football season is here for the Ada Cougars.

No. 6 Ardmore invades Norris Field Friday night for the annual Week 1 grudge match between the Cougars and the Tigers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

“It’s super exciting. You love the start of football season. I’ve said it a few times already this fall, but the start of football season should be a national holiday,” said Ada head coach Chris Berus. “You see what happened last weekend with the start of college football, and pro is right around the corner. High school is the purest of all of it.”

Berus said everyone in the Cougar camp is excited to get to the first game day of the season.

“All the sudden, it’s like you’ve driven many, many, many miles to get to a destination and you go around a corner and BOOM, it’s right there in your face. That’s where we are right now,” he said. “It’s fun to watch a team gel and grow and begin to trust in each other ... just all the camaraderie that comes with being part of the team.”

The Tigers will enter the year on a high note after going on a 13-1 run last year that ended in the Class 5A state championship game.

“You love to play great competition, and we’re doing that right from the start. There’s going to be a lot of people that lead with that (going to the finals) and then come back with ‘but they’re not as good as last year.’ The reality is, they are a darn good football team,” Berus said.

Ardmore is guided by veteran head coach Josh Newby, who has spent two decades with the Tiger gridiron program.

“Coach Newby has been there for 20 years. He knows the heartbeat of the community and the school and knows exactly what those kids need to do to get prepared. They play hard and execute well,” Berus said.

The Tigers have several holes to fill from last year’s talented squad. They graduated 19 seniors.

“They’ve established a winning tradition. You can tell there’s some residual effect from last year’s team going into this year’s season,” Berus said. “Watching them on video, they have good team speed. Up front, their guys get after it.”

Ardmore will feature a new quarterback in senior Creed Cox, who will run the Tigers’ flex bone offense.

“The quarterback is a really tough kid. He was a defensive starter for them last year,” Berus said.

Junior Donald May (a 100-Meter Dash speedster) and senior Jamaare Williams are expected to get the bulk of the carries in the Ardmore option attack. Two-way senior Ethan Lyles will anchor the line on both sides of the ball for the Tigers.

Ardmore defeated Ada 37-14 during the return of Berus in 2017 and topped the Cougars 33-7 last year on the way to winning 13 straight games.

“If you look at where we’ve faltered against these guys the last two years, there’s been a lot of self-inflicted wounds — whether it’s penalties or turning the ball over or a combination of both,” Berus said. “That’s been a priority for us — ball security and making sure we’re disciplined in our assignment. This early, especially against a good football team, you don’t want to give them an extra advantage.”

How good can this Ada football team be in 2019? If things come together like Berus and company plan, very.

But now? That’s hard to say.

“We’re going in the right direction. It’s difficult to get a complete evaluation to where you’re at through scrimmages. We have a lot of young men that haven’t had much varsity experience, so you want to put them in situations that are going to be a little tough just to see how they can handle it physically and how they can handle it mentally,” Berus said.

Everyone will know more about 10 p.m. Friday.

“I’m going to be really honest with you. I can’t tell how we are until after we play week one. I’m not that good of a prognosticator,” Berus said with a chuckle. “But man, I love our dudes. They work hard and just want to get better.”

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