Sulphur hopes to bring competition back to Davis game

SULPHUR — A rivalry is typically defined as "the state of being rivals" or "the act of competition."

The first definition certainly applies to the Sulphur-Davis series.

The second? In the past four years, it would be hard to argue that the "Murray County War" has been a competition. Davis is 4-0 in that stretch and has had the stronger team by a wide margin in each of those contests.

Well, Friday's game could bring the competition back into the best rivalry in Oklahoma.

"I'm very excited about it," said Sulphur senior quarterback Ryan Rackley, who had three rushing touchdowns in Sulphur's 36-22 win over Wynnewood last week. "We got a lot better over the summer and this year, we feel our team is a lot better and improved.

"We'll give Davis a better challenge. We're going into this game looking to win."

The Bulldogs enter with an experience edge over Davis for the first time in four years. Led by a backfield of Rackley and junior running back Nate Johnson, Sulphur has a majority of its skill position players back from last year's team while Davis is breaking in 16 new starters.

Davis, the top-ranked team in Class 2A, broke those newcomers in nicely last week with a 34-28 win against Class A No. 2 Ringling, as Blake Summers (90 yards rushing, 2 total TDs) and Braden Ruth (103 yards, TD) paced a strong offensive game on the road. But even with a victory that put hair on the chests of the relatively green Davis lineup, Davis coach Jody Weber said the Sulphur-Davis game is a little different.

He's eager to see how his team responds.

"I think our kids are a little edge because it is a big rivalry, and most of these guys have never played in it," Weber said. "They've been there, but it's different when you're out there. It's way more playoff atmosphere. It is definitely a baptism by fire for our kids.
"But we expect to be good this week, and so are they. I think it'll be another classic Murray County War."

Sulphur also is healthier than last year's contest and is coming into Wolf Field off of a win. Last season, the Bulldogs were without starters Nick Magruder (collarbone) and Tanner Watson (knee) against Davis, which limited what they could do on the perimeter. Sulphur also dropped its first game of last season 34-12 to Wynnewood, a team that eventually made it to the state championship in Class A.

What a difference a year makes. Now, Magruder and Watson are back and each had an impact against Wynnewood last week. Magruder was Sulphur's leading receiver (two receptions, 31 yards) and Watson caught a touchdown pass. Sulphur will be without junior Ty Crenshaw, who broke his collarbone against Wynnewood.

After watching the film, Weber said the score against Wynnewood wasn't indicative of how Sulphur controled the game.

"Their talent level is better overall," Weber said. "It's the same kids, they're just a year older, a year more in the system."

Rackley feels like the Bulldogs are more confident and prepared entering this year's game. Davis shut out Sulphur last season 39-0 at Sulphur on a night where the Bulldogs couldn't get anything going on offense.

Now, Sulphur is running a new offense, has its defense playing better and is looking to mark off its first win against Davis since 2007. The Wolves will be ready.

"They've been a lot better than us, simple as that," Sulphur coach Jim Dixon said. "But there's no doubt that we're better than we were at this time last year."

Follow Horne on Twitter: @ekhorneARD