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Tigers looking to pounce in playoff opener against Woodward

Beau Bearden

The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to a number of squads across Oklahoma, whether it be due to COVID-19 or other issues.

The Ardmore High School football team knows that firsthand, but through it all, the Tigers still found a way to overcome adversity and clinch a home playoff game.

“Considering all of the disfunction of the year — being in quarantine, and then playing and not playing, going back and forth — I’m very proud of the way the kids have responded to it,” said Ardmore head coach Josh Newby. “They’ve scratched and clawed their way into a fourth-place finish in the district. Any time you can host a playoff game, it’s a special thing.”

The Tigers (3-3 overall, 2-3 District 5A-1) look to capitalize on that when they welcome Woodward to town at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13.

The Boomers finished the regular season at 2-7 overall and 2-4 in District 5A-2, but two of their opponents — Carl Albert and Bishop McGuinness — went a combined 11-1 in district play.

“Woodward has played some extremely tough opponents,” Newby said. “... So they’re not going to be intimidated coming down here.”

Ardmore won’t be afraid either.

The Tigers have a long history of advancing to the playoffs, highlighted by a Class 5A State Runner-Up title in 2018.

“I’ve always said you can’t take going to playoffs for granted — you have to earn that,” Newby said. “We’ve been able to be consistent in our program. We’d like to finish higher in our district this year, but we’re excited about Friday though.

"We hope it’s an electric atmosphere and the kids feed off of that," Newby continued. " We have to start fast and execute and do what we can do.”

That’ll be important as Woodward is a team that won’t waste any time on offense.

“They throw the ball a lot, so we’re going to have to have great defensive line pressure," Newby said. "And our defensive backs are definitely going to have to be in position because they throw the ball really well.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers look to find success in all phases of the game.

Quarterback Cal Swanson has proven to be a dynamic playmaker with both his arm and his legs. The sophomore rushed for a score last Friday against MacArthur and has a number of receiving options to keep the defense on their toes.

“Offensively, we have to take what they give us,” Newby said. “Hopefully we’ll have a great night throwing the ball and running the ball. Hopefully we’ll have a balanced attack that they won’t know what’s coming."