Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
While history may be on Ada’s side when the Cougars travel to Durant Friday night for a Week 3 matchup, don’t expect the 2013 Lions to go down without a fight.
Durant (No. 12 in Class 5A) lost a wild 43-42 overtime contest to Poteau to start the season before shutting down Ardmore — the same Tiger team that handed Ada (No. 7 in Class 4A) a 36-21 loss in Week 1 — 9-7 last week.
Ada head coach Matt Weber, who has never lost to Durant in three tries, said the Lions are much more formidable this year than they were last year when the Cougars came away with a 35-12 victory at Norris Field.
“In my opinion, (Durant) should be 2-0. That first week, some things went wrong for them but I thought through the whole game Durant outplayed them,” Weber said after studying the Lions on film. “They’re outstanding. I was somewhat surprised they would be as good as they were last year ... and they’re a lot, lot better than they were last year.”
Durant is led by senior quarterback Zac Cater, who threw for 155 yards against Ada last year. In that contest, the Lions simply couldn’t overcome a 257-yard, four touchdown night by Ada running back Mason Girdley.
“Their quarterback is really good. He’s unbelievably accurate,” Weber said. “I thought he played well against us last year and he’s a totally different player this year. He’s outstanding, and I think colleges are going to start taking notice of him.”
Cater has completed 31-of-50 passes for 343 yards and five touchdowns through Durant’s first two contests. Ada has just 178 total passing yards so far.
“He’s kind of like a Ben Roethlisberger too. He’s so big and when you get back there, you really have to get a hold of him or he’ll get loose,” Weber said. “When he scrambles, the receivers scramble with him. He keeps his eyes down the field all the time and he finds them.”
Cater’s favorite target has been senior receiver Brandon Maynard, who has nine catches for 145 yards and three TDs. Weber said Cater and his receiving corps can throw a lot at defense.
“They have run 51 different route combinations. I don’t know how in the heck they do that, but they do it well. They execute real well,” he said.
Opponents can’t overlook the Durant running game, let by senior tailback Kooper Cavender who has gained 143 yards on 45 attempts.
“They’re balanced. They have a running back that can slam it up in there and their quarterback can take off with it too. They get the ball to so many different players they make you defend everything,” Weber said. “They lost some really good senior skill kids, but they’ve replaced them with some younger guys.”
The Ada coach said he has also been impressed with the Durant defense.
“Defensively, they did a great job of stopping Ardmore. They play lots and lots of kids and they play hard,” he said.
Durant has long considered Ada one of its most fierce rivals.
“It will be an important game for them, but it will also be an important game for us. It’s one of their rivalries and it’s a longstanding series,” Weber said. “It’s the last game heading into the games that really count and both of us obviously want to be 2-1 rather than 1-2 going into district.”
Road trip reflections
The Cougars survived the long road trip and four more turnovers to trounce the host Warriors 42-6 in Week 2.
“We played pretty good in the first half (Ada led 28-0 at the break) and not so good in the second half,” Weber said. “It was nice to get back in the win column. It was the first time I’ve ever been to Idabel. They had a really nice field.”
Behind steady play from the Ada offensive line, the Cougars rushed for 329 yards against the Warriors. But the Ada coaching staff was still lamenting four more turnovers.
“We had four turnovers again, and that’s two games in a row. Luckily they turned it over as many or more times than we did,” Weber said.
Ada had just one scoring drive (covering just 24 yards) in the second half. The Ada running game and the Cougar offense bogged down. Weber admitted that was partially his fault.
“After we had a couple of turnovers, I got real conservative with the play-calling. It got to where Idabel had no respect for the pass. They started putting too many guys up there (on the line), and we couldn’t account for all of them. There were more guys up there than we could block,” he explained.
“That was my fault. I was just getting conservative and just trying to get us back in the win column. It had been a while since we had a win,” Weber continued. “I have to quit doing that. If people are going to crowd the line of scrimmage like that, we have to take chances over the top.”
The Ada defense was sharper, giving up less than 200 total yards to the quick Idabel club.
“The points they got and the time they were in our territory was due to us turning the football over down there. They had a short field most of the night, so our defense did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone,” Weber said.
COUGAR NOTES: Ada junior Tyler Degraw, who normally wears No. 35, will be No. 1 against Durant as the Cougars’ Special Teams Player of the Week. ... Ada fans making the trip will run into some contruction on SH 48. ODOT is redoing a bridge north of Durant. To avoid the mess, fans are advised to turn at Kenefic and take SH 22 east toward Caddo before getting onto SH 69 south to Durant. ... Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Southeastern’s Paul Laird Field. ... Ada leads the series with Durant 56-11-2.