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Ada head coach Matt Weber is still kicking himself for not passing the ball earlier during the Cougars’ 42-13 come-from-behind win over Mannford last week.
Better later than never, though.
Quarterback Tryce Prince had completed 4-of-7 passes for 124 yards before he suffered a broken collarbone and backup QB Cory Kilby didn’t miss a beat when he was inserted in the game, finishing a perfect 5-for-5 for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
After throwing the ball around for a while, the Ada rushing game bounced back from an awful first half and finished the game strong. Ada’s final stats: 206 yards rushing and 213 yards passing.
After Ada used a 300-plus rushing attack to rally past Durant, Weber had himself a running team. After the air attack worked so well in rallying the troops from a 13-0 halftime deficit against Mannford, it appears Weber has a team that will truly take what the defense gives it heading into a Week 5 District 4A-2 matchup at Tecumseh Friday night.
“Offensively, the first half was my fault. They were daring us to throw the football and I wasn’t doing it,” Weber said, echoing comments he made immediately following his team’s Week 4 win. “I just really thought going into the game we would be able to mash them, but that was a good job on their part defensively, committing everybody to the run. It was just poor play calling on my part early.”
After Prince and Kilby started carving up the Mannford secondary, running back Shiloh Windsor began having his way with the Pirates on the ground.
“Our running game got better after they had to back those safeties off. Once we started throwing it and got momentum back on our side, everything worked out for the best.” he said. “Offensively, we have to be more balanced in our approach.”
Perhaps hidden in all the second-half fireworks that Ada set off against Mannford is a defense that pitched a second-half shutout.
“Defensively, we’re still missing too many tackles, but I thought we played pretty well for the most part,” Weber said. “Until their last series, I think we had only given up 17 yards of total offense in the second half.”
The Savages, who have just one returning starter on the team, have gotten off to a rough 1-3 start — defeating Little Axe 36-29 on the road in Week 3. Tecumseh has been outscored 124-14 in losses to Noble (at home) and on road trips to state heavyweights Seminole and Douglass.
But Weber says he can see improvement from the young Savages from week to week.
“They lost a really strong senior class last year that helped them make the playoffs. They’re going through the bumps and bruises of having to play a lot of young kids,” he said. “It was a team you would have liked to caught earlier in the year because they were new. Now these kids have four weeks and two scrimmages of getting to play on Friday nights. You can tell by watching their films they are getting better each week.”
Tecumseh has a senior quarterback in Micah Sanchez and a pair of talented sophomore running backs in Walter Crawley and Jordan Brown.
“They have another quarterback that can throw the ball really well and have some receivers that can catch it. That’s what they do best,” Weber said. “They’re more run-heavy, but in my opinion what they do best is throw the ball. They get in a four-wide (formation) and their kid is really accurate and their receivers can catch it.”
Douglass blanked Tecumseh 54-0 last week in Oklahoma City. But Weber said that final score was misleading.
“Even though Douglass handled them, it was a 14-0 game at halftime. They moved the ball between the 20s real well against Douglass and then would turn the football over and it kind of snowballed on them in the second half,” Weber said.
Mother Nature may add another aspect to the contest. There’s a chance or rain in the area Friday night.
“With the weather forecast, it could make things interesting. It could be a muddy situation. That’s a great equalizer sometimes,” Weber said. “And we’re back on grass. We’re getting used to playing on turf. We haven’t played on grass much. We’re also their homecoming, and everyone likes to win their homecoming.”
Kilby step in and up
Junior Cory Kilby, who had thrown just one varsity pass since junior high, was thrown into the QB fire when Tryce Prince was injured and responded with amazing poise and accuracy.
Weber, for one, wasn’t surprised.
“I’m not surprised at all. Being around him every day and knowing what type of kid he is,” he said. “He’s highly intelligent and is a great competitor. We’ve seen that even before he started playing football again this year. The biggest thing about Cory is how calm he is. He never at all was rattled coming into the situation and played outstanding.”
As the team’s No. 2 in command, Kilby worked with the quarterbacks during individual QB drills, but it was mostly Prince during team offensive workouts. Still, the 6-7 junior didn’t seem to miss a beat.
“That’s the neat thing about him is how well he retains stuff. He really didn’t get very many team reps at quarterback ... as far as all the signals, he didn’t get to see them as much as Tryce did because he was usually out playing receiver. He only got a handful of team snaps in a week. He went in there and it was like he knew the offense like the back of his hand,” Weber said.
Simons performs well
Sophomore Gabriel Simons, who moved to Ada from xxxxxx, was already playing well on special teams for the Cougars when Kilby moved to quarterback. Simons was then called on to play some receiver and had two catches for 41 yards — including a 15-yard touchdown grab.
He will be the Special Teams Player of the Week for Ada against Tecumseh and will wear No. 1 instead of his usual No. 14.
“He’s new to Ada. He’s a sophomore kid that looked good during the preseason and is a very talented kid. We’ve been waiting for him to turn it on ... finally that light came on the other night. He looked great on special teams and came in and made a couple of big catches, too,” Weber said.
Simons will also play some cornerback for Ada and is also capable of taking some snaps at quarterback for the Cougars.
For now, though, the frontrunners for the backup QB spot are junior Osahwv Frazier (who was a backup quarterback last year) and sophomore Dillon Briggs.
“It’s just a matter of getting them some team reps,” Weber said. “(Osahwv’s) looked good. We put him back there (Tuesday) and he remembered all of our signals and things from last year, and was throwing the ball really well. That was a bright spot.”
COUGAR NOTES: On the injury front, sophomore Jake Bailey, defensive lineman is still banged up and Mark Morgenthaler — who came back from an elbow injury — had now hurt and ankle. Both are likely to miss the Tecumseh game. ... Weber said Prince is already focused on a quick return. “He’s remained in good spirits and he’s going to get that fixed. His goal and the doctor’s goal of getting back are two totally different things. He’s already proved once he can come back in a hurry.” ... Ada leads the Tecumseh series 12-5. The teams have split the last four meetings but before that, the Cougars had won nine in a row.