Ringling football hits the road to battle Thomas-Fay-Custer

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

There will be a lot on the line when the Ringling High School football team battles Thomas-Fay-Custer at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11.

Not only will one squad advance to the title game of the Class A State Playoffs, but a coach will also have bragging rights over the other.

“I know head coach Bob Ward, we’re good friends,” said Blue Devils head coach Phil Koons. “He was at Newcastle and I was at Tuttle at one time. He also coached at Little Axe. We’re buddies, so it’s pretty neat that we get to play against each other.

“He’s done a great job," Koons continued. "They won a state championship up there a few years ago. They always win. It’s kind of like Ringling – they have a great tradition.”

The two coaches have met in the playoffs before, too. The Blue Devils tallied a 31-0 win over Thomas-Fay-Custer in the second round of the 2015 Class A State Playoffs.

Even with that said, Koons started prepping for the Terriers early Sunday morning and he had plenty of film to study.

He likely watched Thomas-Fay-Custer’s 35-34 win over Pawnee last week. The Terriers trailed 20-7 at halftime, but scored 28 points in the third quarter to take a 35-26 lead.

Pawnee tallied a touchdown and two-point conversion to inch within one, but that was as close as it could get.

However, it's worth noting that Blue Devils have only allowed one to team to score more than seven points this season and it was last week in a 21-14 win over Morrison.

Ringling’s tough defense will be key against Thomas-Fay-Custer’s high-powered offense. The Terriers are averaging 32.4 points per game and their only loss came in Week 2 at Cashion.

That Wildcats squad is undefeated at 12-0 and could potentially be in next week’s title game with a win over Pawhuska on Friday night.  

But that is far from the Blue Devils’ minds as they’re focused on what they need to do to beat Thomas-Fay-Custer.

“I’m not taking anything for granted,” Koons said. “We’re going to do our thing. And really, it’s fundamentals. What hurt us (last week) was turning the ball over and stupid penalties.”

Ringling fumbled the ball three times and was penalized eight times. But the Blue Devils showed their girt as Karson Daniel’s late touchdown sealed the win and a trip to the semifinals.

It wasn’t all Daniel though, as Kash Lyle led a powerful rushing attack with 164 yards and two touchdowns.

“We don’t do a whole lot of different stuff,” Koons said. “Our defense adjusts to what they’re doing to try to take away stuff. But offensively, we’re going to line up and run the ball, if we can.”

That’ll likely be the game plan Friday night and if it works, Ringling will be headed back to the University of Central Oklahoma.