By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
FORT GIBSON — Avery Rigney wouldn’t have it any other way.
As the offensive left tackle for Fort Gibson, he lines up against the opposing team’s best defensive end. It’s an unenviable task, but one that he sincerely enjoys.
“I had played tight end almost my whole life but after I moved here, the coaches told me they needed another lineman and they moved moved me,” he said. “I told the coaches I would do whatever I could to help the team. I’ve learned the position and I try to do my best there.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior will look across the line of scrimmage and see Anadarko’s 6-1, 248 Dakota Botone when the Tigers and the Warriors clash in the Class 4A quarterfinals at Warrior Field. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Rigney’s play will be vital in the game between the Tigers, 10-1 and ranked sixth in the final Associated Press regular season poll, and the No. 3 Warriors (11-0).
“The Anadarko kid is a good-looking, physical kid,” Fort Gibson coach James Singleton said. “He plays low and that’s a big challenge. But I feel Avery can handle him. He’s been a solid player for us. He’s also smart in the way he picks up on our adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
“Most teams put their best athlete at that defensive end spot because he’s guy you want rushing the quarterback and putting pressure on the offense. That’s what we do. This game also comes down to our offensive line against their defensive line. It’s that simple. Whoever wins the battle in the trenches is going to win this game.”
Rigney has seen his share of talented defensive ends this season. Broken Bow’s Jaylon Watson immediately comes to his mind.
“He was a different kind of defensive end,” the Tigers’ lineman said. “He wasn’t big, but he was fast. He liked to speed rush. I thought I did all right against him.”
Rigney, however, said the best linemen he’s played against happens to be teammates Ned Adair and Jon Terronez.
“I see them every day in practice,” he said.
Botone earns Singleton’s respect because he’s a returning starter from last year’s Class 3A state champion.
“In my mind, they’re a much better team and he’s in that core group of kids who were in the weight room another year getting bigger and stronger,” he said.
Rigney, who also plays defensive end for the Tigers, has been closely watching the videos of Botone.
“When I look a guy like him, I look for what kind of player he is and how he plays,” Rigney said. “I know what I’m supposed to do. I just have to go out there and do it. We’ve also got a great game plan. We’re just going to do our best to win the game.”
The winner of tonight’s game advances to next week’s semifinals against No. 2 Wagoner (10-1) or Weatherford (7-4).
No. 6 Fort Gibson at No. 3 Anadarko.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.