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September 16, 2004

Week three features inter-class battles

Week two's massive match-ups of Jenks-Union, and Edlam lived up to all of their hype in two games with a combined 9 points scoring difference. The two games came down to the wire with great play from what figure to be the top four teams in 6A this season.

In this week's games players like Felix Jones, Reggie Smith, Gerald McCoy, and Dain Wise will all be looking to set their teams up in good position as district play is on the verge of beginning next weekend.

Game of the Week: Tulsa East Central @ Booker T. Washington

For the second straight week a Tulsa area tilt takes the title of the state's top games. Booker T. is coming off a big win off up and coming 6A power Muskogee, while East Central stumbled against another 6A-4 foe, Owasso.

There might not be a single match-up in the state this year where speed will be such a factor. Both teams can fly with the ball in their hands, or in pursuit on defense. Chief among the speed merchants is Booker T. running back Felix Jones, ask anyone who has seen Jones when he's healthy and they'll tell you he's the most lethal weapon in the state with the ball in his hands. By the same token the Cardinals have a weapon all their own in shifty, Ricky Palmer. What Palmer lacks in size he more than makes up for with production, he currently leads all of 5A football with five rushing touchdowns.

The two defenses trying to slow down these prodigious running games will be led by talented linebackers. For East Central Popsey Floyd is the ring leader of the defense, and possibly the state's most dynamic defender, featuring both as a premier pass rusher as well as a stout middle linebacker. For the Hornets the name to remember is that of Jeff McAlester who will feature at linebacker, but also has the ability to cover most any back in passing situations, and for the most part can fill any role asked of him by head coach Antwain Jimmerson.

Prediction: This one has all the makings of a classic, with two teams who figure to go right at each other with power running games, and the occasional deep passes to keep each other honest. Booker T. 21, East Central 14

Putnam City North @ Edmond Santa Fe

If one wanted to insult the two schools, it could be called the battle of Edmond North's victims, but both teams were in striking distance of the Huskies and are two of the better city area teams, so this one should make up some much more interesting story lines than their previous opponents.

Last year's match-up featured a first half stalemate before Santa Fe superstar Reggie Smith ran away with the game making plays on both sides of the ball to help his team get started on a run that would eventually take them to the state championship game. As it was last week against Edmond North, the health of Timberwolves running back Steve Ihekona will be a crucial piece of the puzzle. If Ihekona is his normal self and helping to take the pressure off of Smith it could be a long day for a Panther defense long on speed, and athletic ability and as usual short on size. If not, the Panthers have plenty of offensive machinery with quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Deji Karim, and wide receiver Kenny Brown to rack up enough points to be competitive against a stingy Santa Fe defense.

Prediction: Even if Ihekona doesn't return, Putnam North couldn't slow down Terrence Brown in the opening week of the season. While Brown is a nice player, he's certainly not Reggie Smith. Edmond Santa Fe 28, Putnam North 14

Owasso @ Claremore

Claremore will depend on a dirth of "big uglies" on both sides of the ball, led by big time offensive line prospect for 2006, Brian Lepak, to try and control the pace of the game, and keep an Owasso offense notorious for putting up big numbers off the field. However, if any team can match up with Claremore's physical brand of football it's the rams who have a talented group of big men themselves, led by Brandon Huneryager and junior Hutton Andrew who could turn into a very notable prospect in the class of 2006.

The Owasso offense has been re-tooled and will be led by a pair of transfers, junior quarterback Joe Patterson from Duncan, and sophomore running back K.J. Washington of Irving MacArthur in Dallas. Of course attempting to slow the Ram offense will be Oklahoma commitment and Claremore defensive tackle Billy Blackard.

Prediction: Claremore has almost zero experience at the skill positions, and is still trying to figure out exactly where the offense will come from. Owasso is in much the same situation, but has looked solid so far this season. Owasso 14, Claremore 10

Douglass @ Carl Albert

Douglass lost it's annual match-up in the "Soul Bowl" last week to a somewhat down, from a talent standpoint, group of Millwood Falcons. Douglass however, always has plenty of talent could find a gap in a Carl Albert team that figures to be coming down from a couple of huge games to open the season, wins over Clinton and Ada who were both ranked at the top of class 4A at the time of the Titans victories.

However, with a big offensive line led by Dain Wise and a running attack headed up by J.R. Moore the Trojans definitely have the cards stacked against them.

Prediction: Douglass is still coming to terms with the loss of Oklahoma high school coaching legend Stanford White but should make a solid showing against the Titans. However, Carl Albert is pushing for more state titles and will have to have some unforunate breaks for things to become overly interesting. Carl Albert 28, Douglass 10

Star Spencer at Southeast

The battle between Oklahoma City schools, is also a battle for class bragging rights as Star Spencer is already an elite program in the 4A ranks, while Southeast has a real chance to make a name for themself in class 5A this year.

The two teams considering their relatively close proximity to one another do offer very different styles and very different strenghts and weaknesses. Star Spencer is making an attempt to go more vertical with it's passing game and with quarterback Kerry Hardeman they are hitting some rough patches after a somewhat dissapointing 1-1 start. Meanwhile, upstart Southeast is hoping to build off of a playoff appearance last season and with one of the deepest group of players in the trenches anywhere in the state they do it with big brutal physicality. At the forefront for the Spartans is one of Oklahoma's top prospects for the class of 2006, Gerald McCoy.

Prediction: Star Spencer's offense has sputtered so far, and Hardeman figures to be under pressure all night with an inexperienced offensive line trying to block a very talented defensive front four. Southeast 13, Star Spencer 10

Other Games of Note:

Kingfisher @ Woodward

Houston (Texas) Yates @ Tulsa Union

Lawton MacArthur @ Lawton Eisenhower

Houston (Texas) Madison @ Muskogee

Last Week: 5-0
Season: 10-0


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