Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
If there ever was a trap game on Ada’s 2013 football schedule, this Friday’s Week 9 road trip to McLoud is definitely it.
The Cougars are coming off an emotional, last-minute win over Harrah and have a date with No. 3 Douglass looming on Nov. 8 at Norris Field.
Enter the Redskins, who have not met their own expectations with a 4-4 overall mark and a 2-3 showing in District 4A-2 so far. McLoud’s three district setbacks could have certainly went the other way. The Redskins dropped a 21-12 decision to Glenpool, fell short in a 42-37 shootout at Mannford and last week pushed Douglass to the limit before leaving Oklahoma City with a narrow 13-7 setback.
So the Cougars must be careful and not get caught in the potential McLoud snare.
“I hope they won’t do that, but you never know with kids. I don’t think they will with the way they’ve approached every game every week,” said Ada head coach Matt Weber. “It’s going to be a tough test, a four-quarter ball game. We’re going to have to go up there and play our best.”
Ada defeated McLoud 40-14 during an undefeated regular season campaign in 2012, but the Cougars held a slim 14-0 lead at the half and were none too happy at that point in the contest.
“Last year in the district, other than Douglass, they played us better than anybody. They really got after us and they’re pretty much the same team they were last year,” Weber said. “They felt like they were going to be a playoff team and maybe a deep run playoff team this year. They’ve had some unfortunate losses — some that you wouldn’t expect.”
“They played the most talented team in our district, Douglass, to a 13-7 game last week.They were ahead of Glenpool 12-0 until eight minutes left in the game,” Webber added. “They’re an outstanding football team. They can’t make the playoffs now, so we figure we’re going to see the whole kitchen sink.”
Senior quarterback Joseph Wood, who threw for 1,587 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012, makes the McLoud offense go again this year.
“That’s what makes them really tough. They have a quarterback that can really throw it, and will take off with it,” Weber said. “They get in some sets that we’ve never seen before. To defend everyone, you have to pick your poison. Are you going to rush him? The only way you can get some heat on the guy is man up everywhere. Then you take a chance on giving up the big play. If you stay in coverage, you let him mess around back there and it’s hard to hold coverage for a long time. We’re going to have to mix it up and hopefully have some success. But this kid is outstanding.”
The fact that McLoud limited Douglass — a team that has scored 278 points so far this season — to 13 points is a says a lot about the Redskins’ defense.
“Defense is where they’re really good. They did a good job of defending us last year,” Weber said. “They bring linebackers a lot ... they’re probably one of the best defensive teams in our district. We’re going to have to hang on to the football and execute.”
Ada has already secured a playoff spot. Obviously the Cougars would love to win out, collect the District 4A-2 title and secure two possible home playoff spots.
“We can do no worse than third. Depending on what other people do, it could come down to (the Douglass game) for a home playoff game,” Weber said. “We don’t HAVE to depend on anyone else. That’s the good thing.”
Ada’s narrow 29-24 Week 8 home win over Harrah was the team’s third close call of the season. The Cougars have been clutch in tight situations.
“It’s was another great win, another comeback win. Something pretty cool about that is now you’re not scared to play from behind,” Weber said.
Fans didn’t have much to get nervous about in 2012 when Ada steamrolled most of its opponents. This year, they have been sitting on the edge of their seats quite often.
“We’ve done that a couple of times this year and our kids have stayed after it and pulled out wins. I’m hoping that type of resiliency will pay off down the line. Last year we were very rarely behind. I think the only time that group was behind was at Ardmore that first game all the way until Week 13,” Weber said. “It’s been different for us, but our kids have reacted the right way. We’ve played better than the week before.”
One of the biggest game-saving plays in the win over Harrah was when receiver Montrell Black split two defenders, made an incredible, one-handed grab and turned the catch into a huge 47-yard gain. It was one of the eight plays the Cougars needed to go 80 yards in the final 1:44 of the game.
“Someone was obviously going to have to make a play. They were backed up trying to keep everything in front of them. Montrell ran a good route and Cory laid the ball in there between two people. Montrell made an outstanding catch. He had a big night,” Weber said.
Black would finish with four catches for 121 yards and had two nice kickoff returns totaling 66 yards.
“He had several big returns and several big catches, but that one was pretty special. He stepped up and made a big play for us when we needed somebody to,” Weber said.
Black, a 5-9, 141-pound junior, had less than 100 yards receiving through Ada’s first seven games. The Cougars now have five players with at least nine catches.
“Every week we have several different personnel packages we throw at people ... that’s pretty neat looking at our stats as far as catches. Last year you had Easton (Pingleton, a 2012 All-Stater) way ahead of everybody in catches. This year we have five or six receivers with several catches,” Weber said.
With that many capable targets, what is a defense to do?
“Because we’re able to do that, in some ways we’re harder to defend. The athletes are different. Last year we had some big-time game-breakers. But now we’re able to spread the ball around between our tight ends and several receivers. It makes us hard to defend when we are executing,” he said. “We have confidence in all those guys.”
As a bonus, Ada tight ends Micah Simmer and Garrett Beam have combined for six touchdown receptions.
It’s really nice to have tight ends as part of your passing game. When you can throw to your tight ends, it makes you really hard to defense. Our run and pass are really complimenting each other right now,” he said.
Cougar Notes: Defensive end Mark Morgenthaler will be in uniform at McLoud for the first time in weeks after finally recovering from lingering injuries. “It will be good to get hime back in on special teams,” Weber said. ... Tryce Prince has been healing nicely after suffering a broken collarbone in Week 4 against Mannford. He could return to action as early as the Week 10 matchup with Douglass. ... Senior Josh Horne, normally No. 84, will wear the No. 1 jersey against McLoud as the Special Teams Player of the Week. ... Huge McLoud right tackle Aaron Smith is listed at 6-2, 340 on the Redskin roster.