, Muskogee, OK

November 5, 2012

Hornets can turn focus to postseason, Checotah

By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer

— Hilldale coach Chad Kirkhart’s weekend began with uncertainty, but it ended with what’s next for his Hornets.

It’s because he and his Hilldale football team know who they host the Checotah Wildcats in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs on Friday.

“It’s nice to know who you’re playing and we don’t have to worry until mid-week to find out,” he said. “That makes it nice.”

When the weekend started, Kirkhart and his staff were preparing to play either Checotah or Spiro. But then the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association ruled Saturday that Sequoyah had to forfeit all of its wins, including the six 3A-7 games, for violating summer camp participation and recruiting rules.

Because of the forfeitures, Hilldale will represent the district as the first-place team and play Checotah, the fourth-place team from 3A-8, in the first round of postseason.

Kirkhart and his staff were happy to have their attention focused on the Wildcats.

“They’ve got a standout quarterback (T.D. Addy),” he said. “He’s got good size. He also has a good arm and throws it well. They have talented receivers including (Deondre) Owens. Checotah likes to throw the football.”

Addy has completed 143 of 253 passes (56.5 percent) for 2,289 yards and 20 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in helping the Wildcats to an 8-2 record. Owens has 54 catches for 1,009 yards and 13 TDs.

Addy has been impressed with the Hornets.

“They’re a good team,” he said. “They beat Stigler and Stigler played us a pretty good game. I know Hilldale is real tough on defense and they’ve got good linebackers (Jamaul Cullom and Josh Giem). It should be a pretty good game.”

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior quarterback doesn’t mind having to play on the road.

“The home-field advantage would’ve been nice, but it’s not that far a drive,” he said. “Actually, I think we play better on the road than we do at home. We’re going to try to make a run in the playoffs.”

Hilldale (9-1) heads to the postseason with plenty of momentum after defeating Westville 54-0 in their regular season finale.

“We’ve watched the Westville tape,” Kirkhart said. “I said earlier that it was important that we’d go and win and play well doing so. I thought we came out and played a pretty good first half. Some of our younger guys got experience and that was good.

“Something about watching the film is that you never play perfectly. We want to continue to get better and we’ll point those things out to our team.”

One thing that needs to be pointed out is if Hilldale wins this week, it will get  a second-round playoff game at home. There’s even a possibility of having a third-round game at Hornet Field, if the Hornets win in the second round.

All of that’s looking too far ahead for Kirkhart.

“Obviously, you’d rather play at home and it gives you a big advantage,” he said. “But we’re not looking past this Friday.”