The last time Eufaula and Vian won games against each other it marked the end of a losing period for the losing team.

Since then both have become contenders year in and year out. Tonight, Vian (5-0, 2-0) will travel to Eufaula (4-1, 2-0) in a key District 2A-6 battle that will go a long way in determining the district champion.

“I’ve been here before,” said Eufaula coach Kerry Roberts. “The winner is in the driver’s seat and the loser will have to have some help to win district.”

Roberts does know what it’s like to be in the big game. His Ironheads have won at least 10 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs each year during his tenure except his first. That team was 8-3, losing in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’ve been blessed with talent and excellent assistant coaches,” Roberts said. “These kids have seen so many big games and they know what’s expected. I think it’s gotten to the point they don’t know how to lose.”

Eufaula last lost to Vian in 1998 — the year before Roberts’ arrival and Eufaula’s last losing season. On the other side, Eufaula last defeated Vian in 2001. That was also Vian’s last losing season. Brandon Tyler took over the helm in 2004 and since the Wolverines have compiled a 28-3 record.

“Both programs have been in this situation over the past few years,” Tyler said. “Our seniors have had a lot of success, but we know we’re not going to show up and scare them.”

Vian’s senior success started when most were playing youth football in elementary school. Losing has been a rarity. Most have been on teams that seldom lost through the sixth grade and were undefeated during their junior high years.

“Vian’s come a long way,” Roberts said. “I’ve heard about this group since they were in the sixth grade. One good thing for us is they were picked to win district so that puts the bull’s-eye on their back.”

Both teams must still face undefeated Spiro in what is shaping up to be a three-team race. Many pundits, though, were pointing to tonight’s game since the beginning of the season. In fact, it is probably the most important contest between the two since Eufaula defeated Vian 34-16 in the second round of the 1967 playoffs.

It will be the first test for Vian, who has outscored its opponents 261-27. The Wolverines’ first-team defense has allowed just one touchdown.

“Everyone talks about Vian’s offense but it’s their defense that scares me,” Roberts said. “Our offense must have success. We cannot let their defense handle us. They have so many weapons on offense that we must survive their onslaught. We’ve scored 40 and 41 our last two games and I don’t know if that will be enough.”

Vian does have the offensive weapons. Quarterback Seth Sloan has passed for 553 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 279 and four scores. Sloan’s primary target is Londell Taylor who has 14 catches for nearly 400 yards and seven touchdowns. Demarqua Pratt heads up the running game with over 400 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Roberts said Eufaula has come a long ways since its week two loss to Hilldale (14-0). Quarterback Ethan Sharp leads an Ironheads team that lacks the big name players of past teams.

“We don’t have any Friday night heroes,” Roberts said. “But this team has probably played harder than any team in the past. Our offense is starting to click. It’s going to have to be our best defense against Vian.”

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