Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Forget the passing fancies of the 2012 Ada High football team. The 2013 Cougars will run, baby, run into District 4A-2 play as Ada will play host to Mannford Friday night at Norris Field.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Cougars are coming off a scintillating 36-35 comeback win over Class 5A’s Durant in a road game last week. Ada trailed by 15 with six and a half minutes to go in the third quarter, but scored three times in the last 17 minutes to snag victory out of the jaws of defeat.
“It was an exciting win. I almost get the feeling that some people feel like we should be apologizing for winning that game. We’re not going to,” Ada head coach Matt Weber said. “It’s a 48-minute ballgame. We’ve been on the other end of that thing. In 2008 DeMarco Cobbs did the same thing to us (during a crazy 40-28 loss to Tulsa Central).”
It was the second-half ground game that proved to be the difference, at least on offense. Ada had just 77 rushing yards at the half but ended up with 302 for the game.
Running back Jeremiah Larry finished with 138 yards, Shiloh Windsor added 69 and quarterback Tryce Prince got free for 69. Junior Austin Feezel even had three carries for 11 yards in Ada’s big second half.
Weber admitted Ada is going to start pounding the ball at opponents from here on out.
“I think we got closer to finding our identity last week. We came out in the second half and really rushed the ball well,” he said. “You can’t always be what you were the year before. We were still searching for that identity — what we needed to be offensively. We’re obviously a lot more dominant run team, but hopefully those other parts are getting better too.”
Of course running the ball always starts with the big guys up front.
“Our offensive line is pretty good at this point and has a chance to be great by the end of the year,” Weber said.
Ada gave up most of Durant’s 308 passing yards through two and a half quarters before the Cougar defense stiffened.
“Their throwing stats and our running stats were pretty similar. We rushed for over 300 yards (302) and they threw for over 300 yards (308). Our kids stayed after it for 48 minutes. What won the ballgame is we had four scoring drives in the second half and they had two scoring drives,” Weber said.
Ada added three more turnovers (all fumbles) to run its season total to 11 but the Ada coaching staff is still confident that problem be corrected.
“Even though we laid it on the ground, we won the turnover battle. They had four turnovers and we had three,” Weber said. “There’s tons and tons of things you can pick apart, and we’ve got to get fixed and we understand that. But we’re proud to have won that football game.”
Durant standout quarterback Zac Cater was having a field day whizzing the ball around and over the top of Ada’s defense for over two quarters.
“It certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort. It was more of a lack of technique. We talked about getting heat on him ... but you better get to him. A lot of his big plays were made scrambling. You have to give a lot of credit to him. He’s an outstanding high school quarterback,” Weber said.
“Our philosophy on defense is make them snap it again. We don’t like giving up big pass plays and he went over the top of us three times,” he continued. “We pride ourselves on how we chase the football. The big plays were the most irritating part on defense.”
During Ada’s late comeback, Cater and his explosive offense were held in check.
“The biggest thing we did defensively is talk to them more and more about staying deeper than their deepest receiver and not getting beat deep,” Weber said.
Mannford enters the game with a record identical to Ada’s, 2-1. The Pirates lost to Cushing 47-32 before defeating Cleveland 47-26 and edging Bristow 20-16.
“They’re coach (Eddy Scott) thought the Cushing game could have gone either way,” Weber said.
The Cougars barely broke a sweat during a 56-7 road win over Mannford in 2012 and piled up 541 yards of total offense. But as the year went on, Mannford kept improving and the Pirates are off to a solid start in 2013.
“If anybody is expecting to see the same Mannford we saw last year, it’s just not going to happen. They have a lot of kids back and have an outstanding quarterback and an outstanding running back,” he said. “In Week 10 they had a chance to win their last game and make the playoffs even though they started out really slow. This year they’ve started fast and I think they are certainly a playoff caliber team. It’s going to be a very tough game.”
Quartberback Luke May is back to lead the MHS offense and tailback Tyler Gibson has already shown big-play ability this season. Against Cushing alone, Gibson had touchdown runs of 40 and 90 yards and also took a pass 52 yards for another score. Mannford ended up with 462 yards of total offense in the Week 1 loss.
“They do a lot of quarterback runs and tailback runs. They can still throw the football, but they’re not throwing it as much as they did last year,” Weber said. “He’s a little bowling ball that’s hard to knock off his feet.”
COUGAR NOTES: Ada leads the series with Mannford 7-0-0. ... Senior lineman Mark Morgenthaler return to practice this week and should be available if needed against Mannford. ... Sophomore noseguard Jake Bailey, who got some varsity playing time against Durant, was banged up in a junior varsity game earlier this week and will miss the Mannford contest. ... Scott Johnson (No. 11) will be wearing No. 1 Friday at the Special Teams Player of the Week. ... Looking for a pregame meal? Head down to the Central Church of Christ for the Ada Boys Basketball Hamburger Fry. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. The Cougars will also tip off their annual $5000 raffle fundraiser. Participants will have a 1-in-100 chance to win $500 with the purchase of a $100 ticket.