By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
Despite not having all its pieces in place, Fort Gibson coach James Singleton was happy with his team’s opening-round effort last week, a 38-20 victory over Oologah that catapults the Tigers (10-1) into a quarterfinal matchup at Anadarko (11-0) this Friday.
The second-year coach knew he had an experienced sophomore calling signals, and a plethora of weapons on offense and defense.
“We held those guys to six points in the first half,” Singleton said. “Oologah has a pretty explosive offense.”
The Tigers relied on Jordon London to handle the quarterbacking duties and for the second straight week, he performed as if he had been the starter the entire season. London finished the game with 67 yards rushing on eight carries and one touchdown and completed 2 of 6 passes for 67 yards and no interceptions.
“He ran our offense and executed really, really well,” Singleton said.
Oologah tried to keep senior running back Jake Gandara in check. That worked for a just over a quarter, as the Mustangs limited him to 21 yards on his first seven carries. To get him going, the FGHS offensive coaches decided to put him in the wildcat formation and Gandara finished the game with 202 yards on 31 carries and three touchdowns.
“Jake did what he always does,” said the coach. “They were doing some things defensively like putting some extra guys in the box which made it hard to get our running game going. The wildcat gave us two additional blockers, giving us a numbers advantage in the way they were lining up.
“We’d been working on the wildcat all year and it was there if we needed. So we thought we’d break it out and use it and it worked out really, really well for us.”
While the offense was pounding the Mustangs’ defense for 350 yards in total offense, the Tigers’ defense was limiting Oologah quarterback Payton Craig to 63 yards passing and 48 yards rushing.
“They scored six points late and that made it look closer than it was,” Singleton said. “We faced some adversity and had some kids step up and that was big for us.
“That’s a credit to our coaches, They do a great job in getting everyone ready.”
For the Tigers, the competition gets tougher the further the season goes and Friday’s matchup at Anadarko (11-0), last year’s Class 3A champion. Anadarko advanced with a 38-0 blanking of Tecumseh.
Should the Tigers win on Friday, the possibility exists of a match-up with another title holder from last season with a berth in the championship game on the line. The Fort Gibson-Anadarko winner will play the winner of Weatherford and defending 4A champ Wagoner.
“That’s a challenge for any football team, but we have to take care of Anadarko first,” said Singleton about the possibility of meeting state champions in successive weeks, including an old rival.
“But our kids are really excited. This is new territory for us.”