Remember that interesting statistic about Hilldale’s football team being unbeaten on the road and winless at home? It’s status quo following a 21-7 victory over Sallisaw last Thursday — and the Hornets are bound and determined to break that pattern on Senior Night against Okmulgee.

“I at least want to win one at home,” Hilldale senior lineman Sean Hale said. “Just winning at home feels a lot better than winning on the road. Not only does it make the other team mad, but it’s just better to win at home.”

Through eight games, the Hornets are 4-0 away from their home field and 0-4 on it. A true oddity until you consider that three of the four teams that Hilldale has lost to are currently in the Associated Press Class 4A poll — Wagoner (No. 1), Poteau (No. 7) and Broken Bow (No. 8). The fourth loss came against Fort Gibson two weeks ago. Enough said.

Although most players like to say that Senior Night is just another game, Hilldale senior quarterback/defensive back Lance Rolland has taken another approach.

“It’s your high school football game at home,” Rolland said. “You go into it. You want to go out with a bang. You want to out with a win.”

A victory tonight would, for all intents and purposes, kill Okmulgee’s postseason hopes, while bolstering those of the home team.

The Bulldogs (2-6, 2-3) form yet another team that tips the scales when it comes to the Hornets (4-4, 2-3).

“All of them are 6-foot-2 and above. That’s on offense and defense,” Hale said of both of Okmulgee’s lines.

On defense, the team features a 6-foot-6, 245 pound, defensive tackle in Herbert Byrd. Next to him is 6-3, 350-pound Jeff Kelley.

Last season when the Hornets came away with a 19-13 road victory, the Bulldogs had a spread offense complete with a no-huddle attack and about four wide receivers per play.

That’s not the case this time around.

“I don’t why, but their philosophy’s changed,” Hilldale coach Don Hendrix said. “They’re running a lot of option.”

Three-year starter Lucas Stanley orchestrates the offense, which will feature split back options on several plays. Cory Wilson, who had a 50-yard touchdown run against Stilwell, has been labeled the team’s biggest running threat. Wilson, who also lines up at quarterback on some plays, reminds the Hornets of the recently graduated Brent Brown, with his explosive speed.

In a season that has featured its fair share of ups and downs — in the forms of wins and losses — the Hornets cannot afford another downer this week following the victory at Sallisaw if it wishes to guarantee a spot in the playoffs, or the closest thing to a guarantee in the up-for-grabs District 4A-4.

“The main thing we talked about (earlier in the week),” Hendrix said, “was wanting to play at the same intensity we did last week.”

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