Tigers hit the road for district clash against El Reno

Beau Bearden

Most squads across Oklahoma are preparing for the eighth game of the season, but COVID-19 and other issues haven’t allowed everyone to do that. The Ardmore High School football team knows that firsthand as the Tigers haven’t played four games which were scheduled for 2020.

However, OSSAA helped solve that issue Tuesday when it added a “play-in round” to the 2020 state playoffs. That helps Ardmore focus on making a run in the regular season, which continues at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 on the road against El Reno.

“We have to take care of business over the next three weeks and that’ll give us a good seed,” said Tigers head coach Josh Newby. “It’s really in our hands. We need to go play well.”

That is especially the case against the Indians, who are on a roll as of late. They have won their last three games and remain unbeaten in district play.

“El Reno has probably one of the best teams they’ve ever had,” Newby said. “They’re well coached, they have a great quarterback in (Dorian) Plumley. He can do it all. And our kids know they’re going to have to show up and play well Friday night.”

And it could be a battle to the final whistle. The Indians (4-2 overall, 3-0 in District 5A-1) proved that last week in a 43-42 victory over Duncan that came down to a last-second decision.

“El Reno went for two in overtime and got it,” Newby said. “That’s got our kids’ attention. We know El Reno will play well and we know we’re going to play well.”

However, there might be a little rust as Ardmore (3-1 overall, 2-1 in District 5A-1) hasn’t taken the field since Oct. 9 in a 35-28 loss to Duncan. Some coaches would enjoy the extra preparation time, but that’s not the case for Newby.

“I’d rather play every week, that way you’re in a rhythm,” he said. “But we’re going to do the best we can.”

The Tigers showed they could do that in their last game. Ardmore quarterback Cal Swanson completed 20 of his 30 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore found Jackson Hedger on one score and Jalen Reed on the other.

Khaleel McGee and Antone Scallion also found success on the ground as they each rushed for a touchdown.

Those playmakers should once again play a role Friday when the Tigers look to deal El Reno its first district loss of 2020.

“I thought our kids practiced well without an opponent last week,” Newby said. “(Monday), I thought we had maybe the best practice of the year preparing for El Reno.”