By Jimmy Stinson
CHECOTAH —The Checotah Wildcats used the fleet feet of Jerry Casey and Caleb Knight and a stingy defense led by Malik Slaton to hammer the Valliant Bulldogs 56-7 in District 3A-8 action at Ogle Field on Friday night.
Casey and Knight combined for 176 yards rushing and two first-half touchdowns to help the Wildcats build a 28-7 halftime lead. Neither player saw significant action in the second half.
Casey finished the night with 146 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown. Knight added 56 yards rushing on eight carries with two touchdowns had completed 7 of 16 passes for 89 yards. Checotah improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in district.
The Wildcat defense held the Bulldogs to 103 total yards in the first half and two Slaton interceptions to beat the Bulldogs.
After Valliant received the opening kick and moved the ball 16 yards, Vallian turned the ball over on downs.
Checotah’s offense took only two minutes to find the end zone.
Knight and Casey combined on six rushes and Knight tossed a 10-yard pass to Cody Cox for 10 yards on the nine-play scoring drive.
Knight capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. The two point conversion put the Wildcats up 8-0.
After the first of Slaton’s two interceptions, Checotah drove the ball on six plays and 33 yards in just over two minutes as Casey went the final eight yards on the ground for the score.
The extra point by Frederick Eilerson put the Wildcats up 15-0.
Slaton’s second interception set up the Wildcats up at the Bulldog 43-yard line.
Six plays later, Knight found the end zone on a 5-yard run to extend the lead to 22-0.
Checotah first-year coach Chad Hendricks knew his team had distractions this week.
“Our team was not as crisp as we would like to be, but given the homecoming activities, I told our guys to stay focused,” he said.
“Coach told us all week to stay sharp, and I think we did,” he said.
The only points the Wildcats’ defense gave up was on a trick play.
Bulldog Rodney Bray lined up as a receiver and took the hand off for what appeared to be a reverse. Bray pulled up and found Taylor Tucker, who had snuck behind the defense, for a 30-yard pass.
With the extra point, Checotah’s lead was cut to 22-7 and that is as close as the Bulldogs would get.
Checotah added another score on a Deshay Bear 1-yard run to bring the score at half to 28-7.
The Wildcats took the air out of the Bulldogs on the first drive of the second half. The two-minute drive was capped by another one-yard run by Bear, padding Checotah’s lead to 35-7. Bear scored on runs seven and five yards to extend the lead to 49-7. He finished the game with 49 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Checotah added another late score on a 10-yard touchdown run by Jack Christian.
Checotah returns to action next Friday at home against Heavener.