This season has been one of redemption for the No. 6 Ringling Blue Devils.
This season has been one of redemption for the No. 6 Ringling Blue Devils. From overcoming an early defeat in the season against Mangum, to recording nine straight shutouts and earning a place in the state semifinals, one could say that things have gone according to plan for the blue, gold and white. But in order for the Blue Devils to reach their first state championship game since 2013, they’ll have to overcome perhaps their greatest adversary this week. At 7 p.m. this evening at Noble High School, the 11-1 Ringling Blue Devils will take on the 13-0 No. 2 Rejoice Christian Eagles in the Class A state semifinals, with the winner meeting either Pawnee or Cashion next Saturday at Wantland Stadium in Edmond for the state title. On paper these teams are about as close to equal as any pair could get. But when it comes to playoff success, the matchup isn’t as equal. Rejoice Christian made its first appearance in the postseason in 2012, where the Eagles made the semifinals. Since that initial appearance, the Eagles have appeared in the semifinals in 2013 and 2018. For Ringling, this game marks the first time they have been in the final four since 2015, as this is the 43rd appearance in program history in the playoffs for the Blue Devils. The last time the Blue Devils appeared in the semifinals, they were defeated by Cashion 32-6. Ringling last won in the semifinals in 2013, when the Blue Devils defeated Talihina 26-18. In order for the Blue Devils to be successful, they will have to slow down an Eagles offense led by senior quarterback Riley Walker. This season Walker is 174-of-272 passing for 2,638 yards and 36 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He also has 44 carries for 430 yards this season rushing with six touchdowns. Walker is 36-3 as a starter over the last three years for Rejoice Christian. Rejoice Christian also carries with its offense a talented running attack led by senior Nate Anderson who has totaled 170 carries this season for 1,820 yards and 35 touchdowns with nine games of 100 yards or more. Last week the Eagles endured their longest road trip of the season to Ross Field in Thomas, where they managed to survive a late rally to take down the Thomas Fay-Custer Terriers, by a score of 47-28. If there was one thing that stood out from the game, it was that Thomas managed to take the lead 28-27 in the second half, marking the first time this season the Eagles had trailed. Rejoice Christian lost last year in the semifinals against Christian Heritage, and is 13-0 for the second straight season. Ringling meanwhile shutdown the high-powered Pawhuska Huskies at Ormand Beach Stadium, winning 28-12. Kash Lyle and Ethan Johnson did most of the rushing for the Blue Devils, who also got a clutch pass from Sam Vanbuskirk along with a catch from Coty Scott. The 12 points allowed by the Blue Devils were the first time in more than two months Ringling had not posted a shutout, dating back to week two against the Dickson Comets, who were the last team to score on Ringling before Pawhuska.