, Muskogee, OK

September 4, 2013

Hilldale D called attention to itself

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— Stigler coach Chris Risenhoover is aware of it.

Hilldale coach Chad Kirkhart doesn’t want to make it more than what it was.

Let’s just say that Hilldale’s defensive number on Wagoner’s Lawrence Evitt isn’t lost on either.

“To get them in week 1 (after that) is kind of scary,” Risenhoover said.

Class 4A semifinalist Wagoner didn’t get a first down and Evitt, who was on the cusp of a 3,000-yard rushing season as a junior a year ago, was held to 12 yards on seven carries.

“You hate to read much into it because it was a scrimmage. We ran to the football, we gang tackled, and we tackled better than we did in our first scrimmage,” Kirkhart said. “It does give you some confidence  but going back to watch film you find things you can always do better.

“The things you see that you like, it makes you feel like you’re getting where you want to be. Our goal all year is to get better with each week, and we did from the first to second scrimmage. So if we do that again Friday, I’ll pleased. But for now, we’re just 0-0 so we really haven’t done anything yet.”

Jake Adams understands that although his play and that of the Hornets’ other inside linebacker, Hunter Olson, was instrumental in slowing down the Wagoner star.

“They have the best tailback in the state and we went out there with the objective of playing smashmouth and didn’t want them to have a first down. And the only one we gave up all night was when Tahlequah came in after we were done with Wagoner and were fresh, and hit us with one right off,” he said.

“It was a lot to feel good about. But Wagoner’s last week. We have to stay humble and focused, knowing anything can happen.”

Risenhoover saw some of this ability from the Hornets’ defense a year ago in a 26 -21 Hilldale win.

“They come at you with defensive pressure,” he said. “Wagoner will get things ironed out they always have. They’re probably a little discombobulated right now trying to settle things at quarterback. But Hilldale, they're playing with so much confidence, so much speed, and it's real similar to what we saw last year. They kept (Evitt) bottled up last week and are playing at a lot of angles, playing the game fast.”

It will be a challenge for Stigler quarterback Seth Sandlin, who has been a running back the past two seasons behind graduated QB Cade Shearwood.

“They play downhill, they’ve got good tacklers and their linebackers are tough,” Sandlin, a senior, said.

One of those linebackers has equal respect for him.

“He’s better on his feet and he can throw the ball, but we know what he can do running with it because we saw him last year,” Adams said. “He’ll throw the ball but I think we’ll see more of him running than passing off that zone read.”

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hornet Field.