With just eight teams left in the Class A playoffs, there's little room left for mistakes.
With just eight teams left in the Class A playoffs, there’s little room left for mistakes. While the chance at the big prize is still two weeks away, the Ringling Blue Devils are set to face one of their biggest challenges of the season this week. At 7:30 p.m. Friday night, the Blue Devils will make the lengthy road trip to take on the Pawhuska Huskies in the Class A state quarterfinals. The winner of this contest will meet either Thomas Fay-Custer or Rejoice Christian in the semifinals at a neutral site next week. These two teams don’t just have impressive resumes this season, but an abundance of talent at their disposal. The Huskies enter this contest with an overall record of 11-1 on the season, and are fresh off an impressive comeback last week in the second round, when they knocked off previously undefeated Stroud 34-26 on the road. Pawhuska came back from a 26-0 halftime deficit to win the game. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils (10-1) recorded their ninth straight shutout last week against the Frederick Bombers at Rick Gandy Memorial Stadium, winning 27-0. Ringling has not allowed a point since the second quarter of its game against Dickson on Sept. 13. This game will pair the best defense in the state of Oklahoma in Ringling, who is allowing just three points a game, against one of the most high powered offenses in Class A with the Huskies, who are averaging 48.9 points per game this season. “This week is just business as usual for us,” Ringling coach Phil Koons said. “Pawhuska is a really good football team. They’ve got a talented quarterback, and a very aggressive defense. We’ll need to play mistake free if we are going to give ourselves a chance.” The talented Huskies quarterback in question is none other than junior standout Bryce Drummond. Last week in the comeback win against Stroud, Drummond put up impressive numbers as he totaled a 22-of-33 passing performance for 351 yards and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. He also ran the ball 18 times for 41 yards with a pair of touchdowns. One of Drummond’s favorite receiving target last week was Cade McNeil, who had four catches for 90 yards. But the main target was Kevin Davis, who led the Huskies with 10 catches for 105 yards. For the season, Drummond has totaled 182-of-275 passing for 3,188 yards and 33 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. He’s also the leading rusher for the Huskies with 143 carries for 855 yards and 23 touchdowns. McNeil is the leading receiver for the Huskies this season with 43 catches for 870 yards and eight touchdowns. He is one of seven Pawhuska receivers who has more than 200 total yards this season. Ringling has its own talented core of players though led by quarterback Sam Vanbuskirk, along with running backs Kash Lyle, Ethan Johnson, and Bo Mitchell. These two teams have never met in the postseason, but both have been in the playoffs many times over the years. This season is just the 27th appearance in the playoffs for the Huskies, where they have a 22-27 overall record, with no state championships. The last time the Huskies made the quarterfinals was in 2011, when they were defeated by the Lindsay Leopards by a score of 20-6. Pawhuska last reached the semifinals in 2009, when the Huskies defeated Heritage Hall in the quarterfinals by a score of 34-20. As for the Blue Devils, this year marks the 43rd appearance in the postseason, as Ringling has a total of four state titles under its belt. Last week marked the first victory for the Blue Devils in the second round since 2015, when Ringling defeated Thomas 31-0. That same year, Ringling also won in the quarterfinals against Talihina 21-6.