By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
With the starting quarterback out with an injury and the disappointment of not playing up to the standards set through the season, one could have excused Fort Gibson had it suffered its second loss in as many weeks.
However, the Tigers (8-1, 5-1 4A-4) were determined to prove the previous week’s loss to No. 1 Cascia Hall, or to be more precise the way they played, was not indicative of their season, and prove it they did by downing Stilwell 42-7.
“The guys were determined to put their play against Cascia Hall behind them,” said Fort Gibson coach James Singleton. “Our offensive line did a good job handling Stilwell’s defensive line. They were able to use our blocking rules and pick up (Stilwell) defensive alignment which opened up some holes and protected our quarterback.”
Jordon London got the start at quarterback and did his job of managing the game in place of J.R. Singleton, the coach’s son, with 34 yards passing and 29 yards rushing with two touchdowns on the ground and one through the air.
“Jordan did a fantastic job,” the elder Singleton said. “He stepped in and in our minds, he played better than what we thought he would. He looked like he was a seasoned quarterback.”
The main focus on the Tigers’ offense, and Stilwell’s defense, was running back Jake Gandara. The senior finished with 200 yards rushing on 21 carries and got the festivities started with a 78-yard return of the opening kickoff after the Indians had kicked the ball out of bounds twice to keep it out of Gandara’s hands.
“We’ve had several people kick it out of bounds on us and we’re going to make them kick it again,” coach Singleton said. “We feel the odds are in our favor whether the ball’s in Jake’s hands or Zach Peterson’s. Jake just said ‘If you’re gonna kick it to me, this is what I’m gonna do to you.’”
The win also kept the Tigers in good shape to finish second in the district which guarantees them the first-round playoff game at Leo Donahue-Tiger Stadium.
“That goes back to the ‘99 season the last time we hosted a playoff game,” Singleton said. “If we finish second, we’ll probably play Oologah or Catoosa in the first round. We scrimmaged against Oologah and played Catoosa so we like those matchups. Finishing second would be a great indicator of where our program’s going.”