Balanced Bulldogs

Drake is part of an offense that, compared to past Wagoner teams, doesn’t really have a centerpiece to the puzzle.

“We don’t have that one guy, but the skill guys we put out there, all are capable of making plays,” Condict said. “I think that’s kept people off balance a bit when facing us.”

Drake is the top rusher with 950 yards. Chochee Watson is next with just over 500 yards. In either rushing or receiving, 12 different Bulldogs have at least 100 yards.

 

Reunion of sorts

The game will pit a pair of former coaching buddies whose relationship was forged in just a season. 

Ryan Keenom was Hilldale’s defensive coordinator, ready to bolt when Greg Werner got the job Keenom had also applied for before the 2018 season. After one meeting with Werner, Keenom had a change of heart, and the result was a bond that remains even while Keenom left for Wagoner and Werner for a return to Poteau as head coach, where he led them to a state title game in 2013.

“I consider him a friend now. I really think a lot of him,” Werner said in a conversation prior to his return to Hilldale for a week 10 game. “I went to his wedding this summer. He’s going to have a heck of a career.”

Keenom’s thoughts?

“He earned my respect for how he runs a program and what he teaches and expects out of kids,” Keenom said.

 

Last meeting a thriller

 Wagoner and Poteau last met in 2017, a 35-28 overtime win for the Bulldogs — and their final win of a 48-game win streak that ended in the quarterfinals against Blanchard.

Wagoner’s Kane Bowman stopped Poteau’s Jett Pitchford at the Bulldogs’ 1 on fourth down. Wagoner never led in the game until the overtime period when Victor Ortiz sprinted around the left side of the Pirates’ defense to put the Bulldogs on top with Blake Dumond’s conversion.

 

Potent Pirates

Two players that have Condict’s attention are running back Mason Barcheers  and defensive lineman  Vaka Tuifua. Barcheers impresses him on both sides, but his numbers speak louder on offense  (1,162 yards and 13 touchdowns and on defense, seven quarterback hurries and five tackles for lost yardage among 45 tackles). The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Tuifua is a different story. The native of Alaska has 24 tackles for lost yardage among 43 wrap-ups this season along with nine pass hurries.

“Definitely lost some sleep over him,” Condict said. “The Barcheers kid, to me is overall their best because of the way he plays both sides. Great athlete who looks like he has a high IQ for the game.”

­—Mike Kays

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