Hilldale’s defense didn’t have much of a workout last week against Spiro.
That’s due partly to its offense controlling the football for 38 of the 48 minutes of the 32-7 win last week to kickoff their Class 3A playoff season.
That’s likely to change this week.
No. 4 Metro Christian comes in at 11-0 Friday when the Patriots play host to the Hornets (9-2). Metro has a Mike Leach-style offense like the one the former Oklahoma offensive coordinator had success with at Texas Tech, throwing the ball 70-80 percent of the time.
And they split that load between two quarterbacks — sophomore Abe Anderson and junior Alex Schmitz. Both have thrown for more than 1,200 yards each
It’s an explosive passing attack — it blasted No. 8 Berryhill with 41 third-quarter points in a 54-20 decision in week 10 of the regular season to decide the 3A-5 championship. Three of those TD passes were to the team’s top receiver, Danny Burke, who was second in the state with 84 receptions a year ago.
“It’s pass first, no question,” Hilldale coach Chad Kirkhart said. “They run big wide splits with their offensive linemen and really spread the ball around to the receivers while going empty set and one-back and throw the ball all over the place.
“Both those quarterbacks are athletic kids and both, you know, are very talented and run the offense well. They obviously feel comfortable with either one of them back there.”
Patriots coach Jared McCoy had even less reps to share when the season started. Justin Herrell was their starter but the 5-foot-9, 140-pounder suffered a concussion in week 2 and another in a car accident a week-and-a-half later, McCoy said.
“As small as he was we were worried about him taking a shot and it played out that way,” he said. “Alex and Abe were like 2A and 2B. One had something the other didn’t. Abe had the bigger body and could run downhill and better arm strength. Alex is more scatty, his arm strength isn’t as good but he makes better reads and decisions.
“So we decided to work both. They both play defense (Anderson at linebacker, Schmitz at cornerback). In ease one had a stinger or something or slowed for a game we determined we’d be better off putting both in the mix.”
Kirkhart said he’s never had a coaching situation where he had two that close.
“We just never had a situation where one guy was the guy and if we did I don’t think I’d be as comfortable with it,” he said. “Typically if you have two you don’t have one. But like I said about them, they’ve made it work so more power to them.”
Just maybe not on Friday, Hilldale hopes.
“We’ll have our hands full,” he said. “All our defensive backs and all our linebackers will have to be on alert in pass coverage. They run a lot of screens so we have to be prepared. When they stretch you vertically they do it enough to make you have to cover the whole field.
“With the screen game they do a good job of mixing it up and whenever you bring a lot of pressure they’ll hit those screens. They’re very good offensively.”
Defensively the Patriots aren’t shabby either. A 3-4 which shows a lot of movement and shifts posted six shutouts, including a 44-0 win against Okmulgee last week, and in all but two games have allowed six points or less.
“Our district wasn’t as strong as it’s been but with those numbers they’ve done all you can ask of them and I’ve been pleased,” McCoy said.
Hayden Hillenburg, a senior defensive back, is the team’s leading tackler.
On Hilldale, McCoy has found a team he loves.
“I really do and they remind us a lot of us,” he said. “Even though I don’t know their staff they look like a team that’s well-coached.
“We look at them as a No. 1 seed. Not to take from Locust Grove but Hilldale jumped out on them and probably feels like they should have won that game. This should be a matchup in the third round.”
But it’s not. The winner gets Seminole or Heritage Hall next week. If Seminole wins, the Hilldale-Metro winner will host. If Heritage wins, it will host.
Okla. Christian 14-13
Tulsa Noah 50-0
Broken Bow 50-2
C. Sequoyah 35-6
Fort Gibson 10-17
Lincoln Chr. 37-14
Locust Grove 41-42