By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Everyone who knows Wagoner knows about Lawrence Evitt.
The Bulldogs’ junior running back has a shot at a 3,000-yard rushing year.
Fort Gibson coach James Singleton knows Evitt from a preseason scrimmage and he also knows Anadarko, the team his Tigers fell in last week’s quarterfinals, 46-20. When he was asked earlier this week what he saw as the key to tonight’s matchup between Anadarko and Wagoner, he didn’t say Evitt.
Rather, Decarius Clark.
The 5-foot-8, 140-pound Clark is the guy who hands the ball off to Evitt. He’ll throw it too. But he also starts at cornerback, serves as punter and is also the punt return guy, kicks off and boots extra points.
Wagoner coach Dale Condict didn’t say Evitt either.
“I’d say the key is going to be up front because they’re a little bit bigger than we are,” Condict said.
Then he started to chuckle.
“But you know, when you think of it, as much as Decarius is going to be on the field, I’d say there are a number of ways for him to be key,” he then added.
Clark had to come in at cornerback when Kerwin Thomas was lost for the season with an injury — one of two losses the Bulldogs, winners of 11 straight since a season-opening loss to Coweta, have had in the secondary. He wasn’t supposed to kick but he eventually replaced a sophomore kicker.
He’s a threat to run the ball at quarterback, but has instead dished it often to Evitt, who’s done his thing. T.J. Ponds has also had a good year at fullback.
“It’s not that if we do run him that it’s up the gut,” Condict said. “At 5-8, 140 I’m not sure I want to let him take those kind of shots.
“But at that size, I’ll say this: He throws the ball a lot stronger than I ever thought he would. He can throw a 12- to 15-yard curl pretty much on the money and is about as accurate on any other throw as anyone we’ve had. Twenty touchdowns and five interceptions in 12 games? I’ll take that any year.”
Clark is the third Bulldogs’ quarterback in three seasons. Before him was Prince McJunkins, who started about 3 1/2 seasons, getting the Bulldogs into a state championship game two years ago against Douglass. Last year, it was Taylor Bosco who drove the bus to the championship win against Clinton.
Bosco had behind him Kevin Peterson, who averaged 10 yards per carry and was the decisive figure in the 23-0 win over Clinton before moving on to Oklahoma State where he roams the secondary.
Clark has Evitt.
“I’ve got him and I’ve got T.J.,” he said. “But I ain’t afraid to run the ball myself. I just choose not to. I’ve taken some shots but I just mentally get over it. I don’t want to quit when I’m in that position.
“If those guys don’t run with the ball, then I’ll throw. But if that doesn’t work out, I’m going to run. And I think you’ll see me run more now.”
Condict realizes he has to preserve his quarterback somewhat because of his contributions on defense.
“We have to control the number of big plays,” Condict said. “Anadarko’s a big-play team. Fort Gibson’s up 14-0 the first quarter, Anadarko’s running back (R.J. Sink) goes 92 yards for a touchdown and it helps turn the game around.”
Sink later broke one for 56 yards and a touchdown to start the second half. It was his fourth of five touchdowns. The Warriors would go on to shut out the Tigers in the second half, 25-0, and moved to 12-0 on the year.
“They like to run,” Condict said. “We’ve got a pretty good defensive line. If they break the line of scrimmage the secondary is going to have to prevent them from breaking it. They feed off big plays.”
Wagoner feeds off its own confidence, though.
“It’s been something, even with some tough breaks with personnel and injuries, how these guys have come out with the attitude that ‘we’re Wagoner and we’re going to win.’ They’ve certainly had a swagger and I guess they’ve earned that. They haven’t accomplished yet what last year’s team did but what they’ve done so far they’ve done against adversity.”
Clark’s swagger showed a bit this week when he talked about Anadarko.
“Defensively we’ve played against better but they’re OK. They just don’t scare me,” he said. “Cleveland was just as good, Oologah was good and Sallisaw blitzed every single down and gave us a hard time. So I think we’ve seen better.
“With our defense, we have the people to shut them down and I think we will.”
The winner faces the Ada-Clinton survivor, most likely next Saturday at OSU’s Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.