In the playoffs at this point, the Pirates (7-2, 4-1 District A-6) can still finish anywhere from first to fourth. And all four go at it this week to settle that.
Gore plays Talihina and Sallisaw Central plays Savanna. A Gore win will earn first place if Savanna beats Central. Should Central win, Gore is second on a head-to-head tiebreaker. A Gore loss and it’s third with a Central win, fourth with a Central loss.
Bottom line: No one wants to travel for their first playoff game and for a good reason; the team that finishes in third and fourth place in District A-6 could find itself matched against the No. 1 and No. 2 Class A teams, Wynnewood and Wayne — although Wewoka by beating Wynnewood this week could take it to a three-way tiebreaker.
Still, first task for Gore is to simply win Friday.
“This is a playoff game as far as we are concerned,” Gore coach Lee Blankenship said. “We have to beat Talihina this week.
Blankenship said he wasn’t surprised that Savanna beat Talihina — Gore beat Savanna by a mere two points (14-12). It was the 33-6 outcome that surprised him.
“We are going to go out and try and stop their quarterback and their option play. It will be their senior night and we know they will be hungry and ready to play but so will we,” Blankenship said.
The Haymakers (6-3, 2-3 2A-5) can taste their first postseason berth since 2004 with a win against Mounds (3-6, 1-4) on Friday or a loss of less than 11 points.
Ahead of that might be a bittersweet sensation as the first-round opponent will be the No. 1-ranked Wolverines of Vian.
That’s not something that Haymaker coach Greg Wilson says he’s focused on.
“Obviously it’s exciting going to the playoffs,” he said. “But Mounds is a team we have to prepare for. They will throw a bunch of different looks at us and have made us work hard this week. I talked to my players today and they already knew that these are the weeks you yearn for as a player, you win and you’re in.”
He did, however, have a word or two for the team that may be on their menu next week.
“(Vian coach Brandon) Tyler does a tremendous job, I truly see them as being the best team in the state. They have really built a football community over there,” he said.
“Even though the playoffs do bring a new element to the game and anything can happen, we are just happy taking a step in the right direction and making the postseason.”