182-mile journey

Ada lineman Clay Hooten (74) ties up his man as quarterback Qumain Black (5) tries to break a tackle during the team's Week 1 road trip to Ardmore. The Cougars will embark on the mother of all road trips this week, traveling 182 miles to face Stilwell Thursday night.

Richard R. Barron
AdaEveningNews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

The Ada High football team will be looking to rebound from a two-game slide this week against struggling Stilwell.

But the search for another District 5A-4 victory will take place a long way from home.

Ada will make the 182-mile trip to Stilwell Thursday night for a fall break contest. The Cougars are scheduled to leave town by 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon for the three-plus hour journey that will feature a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Ada head coach Matt Weber said he hopes the Cougars won’t let a bad case of bus-lag effect their play.

“It certainly could. It’s going to be up to us and our kids to handle it right,” he said. “That’s not an excuse. Tahlequah is going to have a long trip down here next week. That’s on us. We just need to make sure by the time we get to Stilwell we’re mentally prepared to play a football game.”

To say the Indians have struggled mightily so far this season may be an understatement. Stilwell enters the game at 0-6, has scored in only one game so far (a 43-12 loss to Muldrow) and have been outscored 146-0 in three 5A-4 contests.

“They’re young and have a lot of freshmen suiting up,” Weber said.

The first-year Ada coach was quick to point out that Stilwell was a Class 4A playoff team in 2007 and have not looked terrible on film.

“They haven’t won a game this year, but if you watch them on film, you can see they are certainly capable. We can’t just go up there and expect that when we get off the bus, it’s going to be a win,” he said. “We’re sitting here on a two-game losing skid, and they’ve seen 104 points scored against us on the two films they have ... so I’m sure their kids have some confidence that they can beat us. If I had watched those two films on us, I’d be confident too.”

Weber is far more concerned with what his team can do than what Stilwell can or can not do. The Cougars are in a rut of their own after a lopsided loss to Coweta two weeks ago and a stunning setback to Tulsa Central at home last week that saw a 21-0 lead go up in smoke.

Ada enters Week 7 at 3-3 overall and just 1-2 in 5A-4 play. As it stands right now, the Cougars are sixth in the eight-team district. Weber said his club needs to finish the season strong to earn a playoff berth.

“Our backs are a little more against the wall than they were earlier, but we have to remember we still control our own destiny,” he said. “ We’ve kind of put a pencil to it. If we can win three or four, that’s going to put us in. Four of four, depending on what happens this week between Coweta and East Central (the co-leaders of the district with identical 3-0 marks), would probably put us in second or third. But we feel like three of four is definitely going to put us in and probably put us in third place.”

The Cougars finish out the regular season with a road trip to Tulsa East Central next week before back-to-back home games against Tahlequah and archrival McAlester.

“Our main concern is getting a win against Stilwell this week. We just need to go up there and give our best effort and see how it turns out,” he said.

Tulsa Central rewind

While there were many factors that contributed to Tulsa Central’s 40-28 come-from-behind win over Ada last week, Weber said the Cougars failure to score on the opening drive of the third quarter allowed the Braves to gain even more momentum. Ada marched from its own 29 to the Tulsa Central 35 before turning the ball over on downs.

“A big point in the game to me was our drive to open the second half. We came out and kind of started sticking it in their ear again and then get down there and stall out,” he said. “It could have been a totally different game if we had scored right after the half.”

It was then that Tulsa Central quarterback Demarco Cobbs came to life. After finishing the first half with just two rushing attempts for minus one yard, Cobbs gained 151 yards and scored four times over the final two quarters.

“One thing we did was tackle poorly and let that quarterback run all over the field. That’s why it’s a four quarter ballgame. You have to give them credit. They stayed right after us and we just let them score way too many points,” he said. “But part of that was the offense’s problem too. We need to do in the second half what we did in the first half and that was keep the ball away from him.”

Weber said the Ada coaching staff even warned the Cougars that Tulsa Central was quite capable of a rally. They had seen it before on film.

“We talked to them at halftime and told them (Tulsa Central) was in the same situation the week before. They were down 21-0 at the half and came back and even though they didn’t pull out the win, they had several opportunities against Tahlequah,” he said.

During most of the first six weeks, the Cougars have been a far better first-half team. Weber hopes to change that beginning this week.

“For sure we have to figure out ways to put the nail in when we’re ahead like that,” he said. “It seems like we play very guarded in the second half on both sides of the ball. I don’t know that there is a cure except to keep preaching it. We actually need to finish one off.”

Weber still believes his team can get on a roll which will carry right into the postseason.

“If we can keep improving, on a given night, I think our team can play with anybody,” he said. “We haven’t really put a whole football game together yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t.”

———o———

COUGAR NOTES: Thursday will be the first meeting between the two schools ... Stilwell is considered “The Strawberry Capital of the World” ... Due to fall break, there will be no Ada Football Booster club weekly luncheon this Friday. But the noon meal at Polo’s Mexican Restaurant will resume next Friday, Oct. 24 before the Cougars head to Tulsa to play third-ranked East Central.