WAGONER — The defending Class 4A state champion Wagoner Bulldogs ruled their house Friday night at W.L. Odom stadium with a four-way scrimmage, besting a pair of Tigers (Coweta and Fort Gibson) and the Buffaloes of McAlester.
Set up in a round robin type format, each team faced the other and each team offered a different type of challenge with different foes every 10 minutes, minus the Wagoner-Coweta matchup which will be seen in week one of the regular season.
In two sessions against Coweta, Fort Gibson’s offense minus all-everything running back Jake Gandara — who was held out with a high ankle sprain — mustered a cool six first downs and two scores via the option as quarterback J.R. Singleton carried once from 20 yards out and as time expired again from 15 yards.
Defensively, Fort Gibson struggled to contain Coweta’s no-huddle air attack, allowing three touchdowns and a dozen first downs but showed promise early containing the inside run game.
”We had some success passing and we had some effectiveness with it and moved the ball,” said FGHS coach James Singleton. “Without Jake in there our other backs really stepped in there and worked hard and showed that we can move the ball.”
Wagoner took on McAlester on the other end of the field. Keeping with the tone that they finished the 2011 season with, the Bulldogs only allowed four first downs and one rushing touchdown while forcing one interception and a fumble. Most of the Buffaloes offense came via the air game and almost zero positive yards on the ground until the score.
Decarius Clark engineered three touchdown drives in the opening session, the first a connection with Dillon Cantrell from 30 yards out and the second a Devin Hawkins dive from two yards out. Lawrence Evitt took a Clark pitch from 37 yards away for the final score of the session.
The Bulldogs’ offense didn’t miss a beat matching up against Ft. Gibson, connecting on a quick strike 30-yard touchdown pass Clark to Cantrell. A 22-yard sprint from the right side by Kerwin Thomas added to the scoring barrage with 4:50 to go in the session, then Evitt put on a clinic dodging defenders on a way to his score two minutes later.
“Decarius is much further along that what we thought he would be right now and is throwing the ball well,” said Wagoner coach Dale Condict. “He is seeing the field well and our players are working well with each other.”
Fort Gibson did have a few bright spots with the option game and a touchdown pass through the air but yards came at a minimum against the team that ended its season in the first round of the playoffs a year ago..
”Our players have been in the system for a few years now and they are believing, they are working harder in the offseason and our core is stronger,” said Condict. “Our front seven on defense should be as good as 2011 with the kids all contributing.”
In Fort Gibson’s second session with Coweta, Singleton found open receivers twice for touchdowns and moved the ball with more consistency than earlier in the night.
“Our defense got their heads spun around a bit tonight, but this is a great learning tool. We played against some very good teams tonight and I am happy the way we performed,” said Singleton. “We have some work to do and some growing up but this will help us get better.”
The Bulldogs’ defense didn’t throttle back on their second clash with the Buffaloes, shutting down the 5A state contender much of the session and picking apart the defense.
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