The Ada High football team will dive into District 5A-3 play Friday night, when the Cougars travel to Coweta.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than the normal start time for Ada High football.
The Coweta Tigers have gotten off to a 0-3 start to the season, but Ada head coach Chris Berus warns that it’s too early to feel sorry for the Tigers.
Wagoner began the season by edging Coweta 28-27. Host Tahlequah then thumped the Tigers 47-37 before Catoosa got the best of the host Coweta club by a 48-20 count in Week 3.
Catoosa is 3-0 and is No. 7 in Class 4A. Tahlequah is unbeaten and No. 8 in Class 5A, and Wagoner is 3-0 and No. 1 in Class 4A.
“Don’t let that record fool you. They’ve played three really, really good football teams,” Berus said. “The kids at Coweta have had some success. Their seniors have been the district champ the last two years. They expect to win.”
Catoosa was No. 9 in the Class 5A preseason Associated Press High School football rankings, and the Tigers were projected to finish second behind Tulsa Kelley by coaches in a District 5A-3 preseason poll.
“Coach (Tim) Holt does a good job up there,” Berus said. “It will be a great test for us right off the bat. It will kind of show where we stand in the district race right from the very beginning.”
On offense, the Tigers like to be balanced in their passing and running attacks.
“They run a two-back spread offense but probably run a little more one-back than we do. And they like to throw it around the yard a little bit,” Berus said.
Junior quarterback J.D. Geneva runs the show for the Tigers. In the loss to Wagoner, he completed 17-of-29 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns.
“We need to change up the launch points for the quarterback and make sure he’s not comfortable in the pocket and get some pressure,” Berus said. “Hopefully, he’ll feel some heat and throw some air balls, and maybe some of those balls will come to us.”
Sophomore Wesley Spohn is one of Coweta’s leading rushers. He ran for 53 yards on 12 carries against Wagoner.
Leading the Coweta receiving corps against Wagoner included senior Blake Denton (four catches, 65 yards), Spohn (6-59) and junior Thomas Ivy (3-47).
The Tigers have struggled a bit defensively so far against a talented pre-district schedule, giving up a total of 1,477 yards — 349 to Wagoner, 566 to Tahlequah and 562 yards to Catoosa. They employ a 4-2 defensive formation.
Friday’s night’s clash will be huge for both teams moving forward.
“The only games that matter as far as jockeying for position in the playoffs are these games from here on out,” Berus said. “The first preseason games are all about figuring out where you’re at and where we need to go.”
A look back
The Cougars had three turnovers and eight penalties for 80 yards in a 17-3 loss to Duncan last week at Norris Field.
“It was evident we weren’t ready to play, and that’s the head coach’s fault,” Berus said. “We’ve talked about some adjustments we have to make and some focus we have to change up. It’s one of those things that if your mind’s not right, the physical stuff doesn’t just happen. It was disappointing to come out with a loss when you play so poorly and have so many mistakes that are correctable.”
Berus said he doesn’t know why his team came out flat against the Demons.
“I don’t know if it was because of the first home game or what not ... regardless of what the reason was, I didn’t have our kids mentally ready to go play and it was very, very evident,” he said.
The Cougars went right to work fine-tuning the offense at practice this week.
“Consistency has got to be our key. We’ve made strides to move to that direction this week. We’ve had two really good practices. Monday was a very good day, and Tuesday may have been our best Tuesday of the season,” Berus said. “We just have to work on our consistency and cut out turnovers and all those penalties. When we do that, I think we can be a really good football team.”
The Ada Boys Basketball annual Hamburger Fry fundraiser is scheduled from 4-7 p.m. Sept. 28 in the north parking lot of Koi Ishto Stadium. Cost is $5 per person and includes a hamburger, chips, drink and dessert. The Cougars host archrival McAlester at 7:30 p.m. that night.