Knights begin district play tonight

Wilson football team’s offensive line prepares to take a snap against South Coffeyville last Friday night. The Tigers suffered a defeat at the hands of the Lions, losing by a close margin of 58-50. This Friday, the Wilson Tigers will travel to Bartlesville for a showdown with the Wesleyan Christian Mustangs.

(Photo by JESICA SPARKMAN)

By LARRY OWEN
Free-Lance Sports Editor

The Henryetta Golden Knights will continue their search for their first win of 2017 tonight when they travel to Haskell for their District 2A-5 opener against the Haskell Haymakers.
Last year, the Knights entered district play with an identical 0-5 record and walked away with a district win over the Haymakers at historic Cameron Field. If the Knights are to make their third-straight playoff appearance, they will need to have a repeat performance tonight with a win over Haskell.
In other county action this week, two county football teams will enjoy the pleasure of playing in front of their home crowd this week, while the other three county squads will take to the road for their Week 5 contests.
The Okmulgee Bulldogs will conclude their 3-game road schedule tonight (Friday) with a trip to McIntosh County and a District 3A-6 showdown with the Checotah Wildcats. The Bulldogs began district play last Friday in Cushing, suffering a 35-12 defeat at the hands of the defending district champion Cushing Tigers.
The Beggs Golden Demons are one of two county teams that will be playing at home in Week 5. The Demons return to action after taking last week off and will begin district play tonight when the Morris Eagles come to Golden Demon Stadium for a 3A-6 battle. The Eagles are looking to rebound from their 22-14 loss to Checotah last Friday in Morris and even their district record at 1-1 with a win over their county rivals.
The Dewar Dragons are the other county team that will be playing on their home field this week, playing host to the 2015 Class B state champion Davenport Bulldogs in their final non-district game of 2017. The Dragons, like Beggs, had Week 4 off, using the Bye Week to get better prepared for their meeting with the talented Bulldogs from Davenport High School.
The final county team in action tonight is the Wilson Tigers, who will take to the road for the first time in 2017. The Tigers were originally scheduled to travel to Graham-Dustin in Week 1, but that game was moved to Wilson High School, as the Chieftains' field was not ready at the time. The Tigers' first official road game will take place in Bartlesville, as the Wilson squad will battle the Wesleyan Christian Mustangs in a Week 5 matchup.
Here are how the county teams fared in Week 4:
• Okmulgee began District 3A-6 action with a 35-12 loss to Cushing.
• Morris dropped its District 3A-6 opener at home to Checotah by a 22-14 margin.
• Henryetta fell to 0-5 on the year with a 47-6 loss at Muldrow.
• Wilson suffered a heartbreaking 58-50 defeat at home to South Coffeyville.
• Beggs and Dewar had the week off.
Below  are the offensive and defensive keys to the game for the six Okmulgee County teams that are competing in Week 5.
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Henryetta at Haskell
Henryetta Offensive Keys

The Knights will need to find a way to be balanced offensively this week in a very important district contest. The Henryetta offense must also find ways to score early in the game and not have to play catch-up the entire game. In four of the five games this season, the Knights have found themselves in double-digit deficits early on and have had to rely on the passing game to get into the end zone. The Henryetta offense needs to find the end zone early in the first quarter, allowing head coach Darin Johnson and his coaching staff the opportunity to call a more balanced offensive game than having to rely on one aspect. The Knights also need to avoid costly penalties and mistakes that take away from those early scoring chances if they hope to begin their journey towards a postseason spot with an all-important district win over a very talented Haskell squad.
Henryetta Defensive Keys
The Knights will need to find a way to force the Haymakers to throw the football more than they are accustomed to doing, as Haskell head coach Rusty Harris likes a run-first type of offense. The Haymakers' offense revolves around senior running back David Norsworthy (5-10, 180), as well as seniors Trenton Campbell (5-7, 140) and Davion Stafford (6-1, 180). The Henryetta defense will also need to find a way to cause problems in the backfield for quarterback Tayden Lucero (5-10, 180), keeping the dual-threat signal caller contained in the pocket and not allowing the talented quarterback to throw the ball downfield to an open receiver or tuck the ball and run for positive yardage.
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Dewar vs Davenport
Dewar Offensive Keys

The Dragons will need to be balanced offensively this week, having production from their two playmakers - tailback Boogie Brown and quarterback Joey Fowler - if they are to be victorious against a very talented Davenport football team this week. Other offensive players, such as Rhett Whitlow and Braxton Loyd, will also need to be productive this week. The Dewar offense will also need to be near-flawless in ball control and penalties this week, as turnovers or costly penalties that take away scoring opportunities could very well be the difference in the Dragons remaining unbeaten in 2017 or suffering their first loss of the season.
Dewar Defensive Keys
The main objective for the Dragons on defense this week will be to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone as much as possible. In its four games this season, Davenport has outscored its opponents 114-24 or an average of 41-6. The Bulldogs have scored 40 or more points in three of those contests, including blanking Strother 50-0 last week. In its four games this season, the Dragons defense has given up an average of 12.5 points per game. If the Dewar defense can keep Davenport from scoring more than 12 points this week, it could result in the Dragons earning a win over a Top 5 team. The Dewar defense also needs to find ways to stop the Davenport offense, forcing turnovers and 3-and-out situations as much as possible.
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Wilson at Wesleyan Christian
Wilson Offensive Keys

In the past three games, the Tigers have scored 30 or more points, including a season-best 50 in last week's heartbreaking loss to South Coffeyville. A big part of the sudden eruption of points being put on the scoreboard has been the effectiveness in the passing game with the Tigers averaging about 250 yards a game for the last three weeks. While the main goal this week will be to continue being effective throwing the football, the Wilson offense will also need to find ways to mix in a few runs that keep the Wesleyan Christian defense on its toes at all times. The offensive line needs to find ways to open up running lanes for the run game, which features running backs Michael McKinney and Kalem McQuay and quarterback Malik Thompson. The Wilson O-Line has done a great job of allowing Thompson time in the pocket to complete passes downfield this season and will need to continue giving the sophomore signal caller time in the pocket if the passing game is to continue being a success. Ball control and elimination of penalties and costly mistakes will also be needed this week if the Tigers are to pick up their second win of the 2017 season.
Wilson Defensive Keys
The Tigers have to do a better job of stopping the run game of their opponents, not allowing the Mustang ballcarriers the chance to break off long positive yards. The Wilson defense will need to find a way into the backfield and apply pressure to the Wesleyan Christian quarterback, as the Mustangs have relied heavily on their passing game for much of the season to this point. The Mustang QB likes to run draw plays and misdirections that get defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage, allowing the signal caller the time to throw the ball downfield. The Tigers will need to stay focused on the play at the line of scrimmage and not be pulled in on the trick plays by the Mustangs. The Wilson defense must take away the pass game tonight and force Wesleyan Christian to run the ball more than the Mustangs are accustomed to doing, allowing the defensive line the opportunity to get into the backfield, forcing turnovers and punting situations.
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Okmulgee at Checotah
Okmulgee Offensive Keys

The Bulldogs need to get back to effectively running the football tonight if they are to have any success against a very stout Checotah defense. In last week's loss to Cushing, the Okmulgee offense totaled 102 yards on the ground. Head coach Carl Lee will look to have production on the ground from running backs Greg Jones, Tavon Henderson, and Kenny Scott, as well as quarterback Jacob Barrett. Coach Lee will also expect better blocking up front by his 'beefy' offensive line that features Joe Washington, Lemuel Lott, Ishmael Jackson, and Matt Camacho. The Bulldogs will also need to continue to have effectiveness throwing the football this week if they have any chances of climbing out of the district cellar. Another goal for the Okmulgee offense will be to take care of the football this week. In last week's loss to Cushing, the Bulldogs turned the ball over a season-high seven times, including five fumbles.
Okmulgee Defensive Keys
The Okmulgee defense must find a way to shut down the high-powered run game of the Wildcats, which begins with junior running back Ronny Hall (5-11, 170). Last week against Morris, Hall rushed for 149 yards and 3 TDs. The Bulldogs will need to find a way of slowing down the speedy Hall and find ways into the backfield and disrupt the rhythm of junior quarterback Cade Shropshire, who is a dual threat at the signal caller position for the Wildcats. Two of Shropshire's aerial targets in the passing game are senior Seth Knight (6-1, 175) and junior Adrian Jones (6-0, 150). Other targets for Shropshire in the passing game include receivers Rico Howard (5-6, 150, Jr.), Malik Carr (5-11, 165, Sr.), and Dylan Mills (6-0, 210, Sr.). The Okmulgee defense will need to find a way to force 3-and-Out situations, as well as create turnovers that gets the Checotah offense off the field without any points being put on the scoreboard.
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Beggs vs Morris
Beggs Offensive Keys

The Demons will need to find a way to be as balanced offensively this week as possible. The Beggs offense will need to find ways of keeping the Eagle offense off balance every time the ball is snapped. The Demons must have production from their playmakers, which includes running backs Jared Sutter and Kayson Toliver, fullback T.J. Austin, wide receivers E.J. Smoot, Nathan Ross, and Shaidan Jordan, and utility man C.J. McCall. The Beggs offensive line will need to be very productive in keeping the Morris defense out of the backfield this week, while also opening up running lanes for the running backs to run through if the Demons hope to begin their journey towards a district championship with a win. Ball control and elimination of costly mistakes will also be crucial for the Demons on offense this week. The Beggs offense cannot afford to have scoring chances taken away by costly penalties or turnovers in this all-important district contest.
Beggs Defensive Keys
The Beggs defense must find a way to slow down Morris tailback Logan Stacy. In the past two weeks, the senior back has provided problems for opposing defenses, rushing for 238 and 247 yards, respectively. If Stacy is not contained to the line of scrimmage or in the backfield, it could mean a long night defensively for the Demons. The Beggs defense will need to also find a way into the backfield and apply pressure to senior quarterback Cody Smith, forcing the Eagle signal caller to make errant passes or incompletions that allow the Beggs offense to get back on the field. The Beggs defense will also need to find ways to create turnovers if the Demons hope to open district play with an all-important win over a very-much improved Morris football team.
Morris Offensive Keys
The Eagles must find a way to get other players involved this week. The past two weeks, senior tailback Logan Stacy has been the main workhorse on offense for head coach Jerry Hanlin, rushing for a combined 485 yards in the last two weeks and has accounted for most of the Eagles' scoring in the past two games. The Morris offense needs to find a way to get the passing game going this week, in an effort to keep Beggs on its toes defensively. The offensive line will need to keep the aggressive Beggs defense out of the backfield, allowing senior quarterback Cody Smith the time to find an open receiver downfield. The Eagles must also take care of the football this week and not allow turnovers and punting situations to take away scoring chances and give the ball to the high-powered Beggs offense. The Eagles also must eliminate self-inflicted mistakes, such as costly penalties, that take the football out of the offense's hands in the all-important district contest.
Morris Defensive Keys
The Morris defense has another tough task ahead of them this week. Last week, it was the running game of Checotah's Ronny Hall and passing game of Cade Shropshire. This week, the Eagle 'D' will need to find a way to slow down Beggs' high-powered running attack that features standout running backs Jared Sutter, Kayson Toliver, C.J. McCall, and T.J. Austin, as well as keeping an eye on standout wide receivers E.J. Smoot, Shaidan Jordan, and Nathan Ross. The Morris defense will need to find a way into the backfield and cause problems for whichever Beggs quarterback - Dalton Spring, Dax McElroy, or Kobe Haynes -  that is calling signals for the Demons. All three signal callers for Beggs are very talented in their own way and will need to be watched closely. The Morris defense also needs to find a way to force turnovers that gets the Beggs offense off the field as much as possible.

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