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Lone Grove battles Sulphur with 2nd place on the line

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

No one knows for certain what a regular-season finale will determine. Sometimes it’s just about playoff seeding, but other times it can decide much more.

That’s the case Friday night as the Lone Grove High School football team welcomes Sulphur to town at 7 p.m. looking to not only clinch second place in the district, but also earn two home playoff games.

“We were hoping this game would be a district title game, but Kingston has kind of rose to the occasion and they’re undefeated and they’re playing really well,” said Lone Grove head coach Brad O’Steen. “This is the game for us that we kind of had circled, but it’s a second-place game and it’s really important to set ourselves up for the playoffs.”

The Longhorns and Bulldogs have identical 5-1 records in District 3A-2, with their losses coming to undefeated Kingston. Lone Grove has leaned on a balanced attack all season, while Sulphur’s Logan Smith is putting up MVP-caliber numbers.

Smith proved that last week with 351 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a win over Plainview.

“(Smith) is probably the best running back in the district,” O’Steen said. “He’s a big back — you have to tackle him low and wrap him up. He’s a really good football player and I’ve heard he’s a really good kid. We have to gang tackle him and get him on the ground. And then we have to block him on offense to score points.”

The Longhorns showed they could score last week in a convincing 53-0 win over Little Axe. Lone Grove jumped out to a 27-0 in the first quarter and never looked back, thanks in part to capitalizing on four turnovers.

But Friday night will be different as the Longhorns test their wits against one of Oklahoma’s longest-tenured head coaches. Jim Dixon is in his 46th year as Sulphur head coach and he's been with the Bulldogs for 48 seasons.

“He’s a legend,” O’Steen said of Dixon. “He’s a coach we all look up to up to and respect. Those guys have always done a good job. So we’re challenging our guys to play their best football and that’s what we have to do.”