It felt very out of ordinary.
Wagoner’s made the postseason in every one of Wagoner head coach Dale Condict's 16 seasons, but had no opening-round agenda this year.
The bye that came when Stilwell opted out of the postseason made for an idle week for the Bulldogs, 10-0 and No. 1 in Class 4A.
A slowdown, perhaps, of routine and momentum?
Not so much, said Condict.
“It’s been boring, kind of strange,” he said. “But we had a couple guys we were glad to give them a little extra time to heal up so it’s been a little toward our advantage.”
Senior wide receiver/defensive back Chase Nanni gets his cast off this week from a broken finger which has limited his effectiveness. Senior cornerback Caden Pawpa has improved from a pulled hamstring.
In all, six starters have missed 10 1/2 games due to injury.
Injuries, however, haven’t really slowed the Bulldogs down, especially a defense that has grabbed most of the focus when people prepare for Wagoner.
“We’ve had lots of guys miss time but we go with the next man up mentality and other guys have picked up the slack,” said Wagoner defensive coordinator Ryan Keenom, in his second season since departing Hilldale. “We are a very fast defense and when you play with the effort we do, we look even faster.”
The Bulldogs have allowed just 46 points, have shut out five opponents, and only against Grove has a team managed more than one touchdown. They’ve allowed 107.3 yards per game, 46.6 rushing.
Linebacker Trey Gause has 96 tackles, linebacker Kaden Charboneau 85 and defensive end Chochee Watson 72 — each senior with 17, 18 and 19 resulting in lost yardage. That’s all helped while defensive end Isaac Smith missed time due to a deep knee bruise.
Smith, who two weeks ago decommitted from Tulsa in favor of Texas Tech, has 68 with a team- high 11 sacks and 13 tackles for lost yardage and is now 100 percent.
Under the defense’s shadow, the offense has averaged 47.1 points with a season-low 22 against Tahlequah in week two after 28 in the opener against Coweta. From week three on it’s averaging 52.6 points.
Much of that is due to senior running back Braden Drake’s 1,260 yards and 26 total touchdowns. As a safety Drake also has four interceptions, tying him for the team lead with Nanni, and seven breakups. (Nanni has 10).
Overall the Bulldogs are averaging 407 yards per game.
It all amounts to a stiff challenge for Sallisaw (4-4) and head coach Randon Lowe. The former Muskogee offensive coordinator compares them to defending state champion Poteau’s defense of a year ago.
“They’re pretty good because they are fast everywhere,” he said.
Condict says his unit can’t overlook Black Diamonds quarterback Jaxon McTyre.
“He’s a real good player with tons of experience. You don’t figure you’ll be able to rattle him right away,” Condict said. “The receiver (Riley Scavo) is very established. Their running backs are different in style but both effective.”
Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday at Wagoner.