I’m certainly no coach, but I felt the need too ffer Ada head guy Wade Standley some friendly pointers in advance of his team’s trip to Southern Nazarene University to take on the Bethany Bronchos.

It wasn’t exactly X’s and O’s strategy or starting lineup help. It was quite simple: Stay out of the path of black cats, steer clear of ladders and leave mirrors alone for the remainder of the season.

Bad luck struck the Cougars again during last Friday’s huge 35-6 win over Durant. Midway through the fourth quarter, Ada playmaker Kylen Cooper suffered a broken ankle that required Saturday morning surgery. This after the talented junior had caught 10 passes for 135 yards and a school-record four touchdowns. He joins what is turning into a long list of Ada players rehabbing in the Cougars’ version of a MASH unit.

“I don’t look at it that way,” Standley said after hearing what I thought was sound advice. “Injuries are part of the game and there are some years you have more than others. When you have your share, it’s unfortunate for the young men.”

During Ada’s first three games, Cooper had 27 catches for 248 yards. Zach Powell is next on the team with 12 grabs for 106 yards.

Cooper will be missed, for sure, but Standley believes he can return before the season’s end.

“Kylen had an incredible game for us. Gosh, he’s done a great job,” he said. “The good news is we hope to get him back. Hopefully, we’ll have him for the stretch run. He’s a great young man.”

Only four other receivers, including Powell, have even caught passes for Ada. Look for that to change.

“You certainly look for guys to step up and to distribute the ball evenly and take what the defense gives us,” Standley said. “From a team perspective, we have to continue to move forward, continue to get better and continue to stay focused on the task at hand.”

On to Bethany

The Bronchos opened the season with a 35-27 shootout win over Marlow, before upending Pauls Valley — led by former Ada coach Matt Weber — 29-13. Bethany then dropped a 9-3 decision to Kingfisher in a defensive slobberknocker.

“Bethany has a really good football team. We’ll need to sustain drives and be able to move the football and score in the red zone,” said Standley. “We also need to continue to improve defensively, run to the ball well and tackle well.”

Junior running back Payton Harrell leads the Bethany ground attack. Although he struggled against a stout Kingfisher defense last week (the team was limited to 45 yards rushing), Harrell has still piled up 320 yards on 47 carries with three touchdowns so far this season.

Senior quarterback Bailey Shire runs the show for the Bronchos. He has completed 26 of 56 passes for 449 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in Bethany’s three outings this year.

Bethany’s top receivers include Gibson Diffee (9-153), Jake Adams (4-73) and Hassan Lawton (5-42).

“They run it a little bit more than they throw it. They do throw the football about 18 to 20 times a game,” Standley said. “They have a good quarterback and a couple of receivers and a running back that are good threats.”

Defensive linemen Collin Miller (6-1, 195), Seth Carmack (6-2, 260) and Chase Wetwiska (6-1, 181) anchor the Bethany 4-3 defensive attack. Miller has 20 tackles (and three sacks), Carmack has 19 and Wetwiska has 10 stops so far.

“Defensively, they really pursue the ball. They’re really good up front on the defensive line, Standley said.

Standley said he and his staff are looking forward to getting into the District 4A-2 schedule.

“You have to win those district games to make the playoffs. Every game is important, but no question about it, these matter,” he said. “We’re excited for district play and ready to get going.”

Friday’s matchup will be the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.

Looking back

at Durant

Ada piled up over 350 yards of total offense while holding the Lions to less than 200 during last week’s big win.

“I thought it was a really good team game. We played well for four quarters,” Standley said. “I’m pleased with our progress from Week 2 to Week 3.”

The Ada coach said playing Class 5A juggernauts Ardmore and Carl Albert to open the season is already paying dividends.

“I really felt like those first two games, playing great people, helped us get better. It helped us to figure out some of our strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

Onside kickers

The Ada Cougars have recovered an amazing four onside kick attempts so far this season, including back-to-back dandies against Durant last week.

Standley said executing the trickery is the direct result of talented kickers Jackson McFarlane and Tovan Thomsen.

“We have two really, really good kickers. People are going to have to prepare for that, and we’ll continue to work it,” Standley said.

Of course, guys have to beat the opposition to the ball, too, especially on the longer, pooch kicks.

“Those guys are on the kickoff team, and their job is to go get the football,” he said.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.