By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Call it the Pride Bowl, for a sense of postseason feeling that neither Muskogee or Bixby will experience.
Both teams will leave Friday’s game with some playing their final game of football, while others may extend that through college and the rest will head to off-season work. And in the end, it’s just the satisfaction of finishing with a win and also gaining a notch up the ladder in District 6A-2.
Is that enough?
“I think we match up well, and I know I’ve been wrong about that before,” Muskogee coach Josh Blankenship said. “I really expect a dogfight, but it depends on what group of teen-agers wants it more than the other.
“I mean they’ve had the same emotional struggles we have with the kind of season they’ve had and like us, they know this is their last game no matter what. It now boils down to the legacy you leave.”
After this week’s games, there’s only one team in Class 6A who will depart with a win.
Friday’s meeting between the Roughers and Spartans is the first since a 20-9 Bixby win in 1922, which marked the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Bixby moved into Class 6A this season.
Under Loren Montgomery, the former Jenks offensive coordinator who took over as head coach in 2009 when Allan Trimble was suspended in the wake of the school's penalties for using an ineligible player in the 2008 season, have gone 3-6 overall and 1-5 in district. Like Muskogee (1-7, 1-5), the Spartans’ only 6A-2 win came against Tulsa Edison.
“Loren’s an (offensive line) guy by trade and he’s going to find a way to run the ball on us,” said Blankenship.
Blankenship believes the core of that offense’s focus is in that of tight end/H-back DeAndre Jennings, a 6-foot-1, 211-pound senior and the younger cousin of Oklahoma State receiver Tracy Moore, who Blankenship worked with as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator.
“The run game goes through him and they’re going to try and get him the ball,” Blankenship said.
Defensively, Guy Gaylor, whose brother Adam is the Broken Arrow defensive coordinator, runs a similar scheme as the Tigers’ 4-3 scheme but with a stand-up end who can end up as a linebacker.
“It’s the same thing as Owasso, so we’re familiar with it,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to attack it.”
Blankenship said he won’t use the contest with a look toward 2013 even though he made some changes down the stretch of last week’s 20-17 loss to Putnam City. Some of those were based on schemes and though he did not go into specifics, he didn’t pull quarterback Trevor Jiles on the basis of a late interception.
Quintahj Cherry, his freshman backup, went three-and-out on the next possession before leading the Roughers to a touchdown in the final minute for the final score of the contest.
“The only way I’m even remotely looking ahead is for the same thing I’ve done all season and that was we need to win, that’s it,” he said. “I’m not playing anyone in particular, I’m not making personnel decisions on what I am hoping to get done next year.
“The only plan is to win and I’m not going to slight a senior because of my plans for next year. My plans are all about right now so our plans are to go win Friday.”