McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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September 20, 2013

Know Your Foe: Buffs host Zebras in first 5A game

(Continued)

McALESTER —

“Those other three start on defense, so we try to rotate them, keep them fresh,” Gilbreath said.

When Brown passes, he has four veteran receivers in Caleb Webster, Hunter Garroutte, Dustin Baskas and Nathan Lollis. All four saw playing time last season, when the Zebras went 10-2, losing in the second round of the playoffs.

“They have some really good receivers,” Pratt said.

“They lost their quarterback (from last year) ... but the other quarterback throws the ball deep really well.”

Having lost in part due to pass-defense last week, Pratt said his team has focused on it in practice this week.

“It was just one of those nights that we need to grow from,” Pratt said of the 47-45 loss to Booker T..

“I think they’ve beat themselves up enough.”

While the Buffs’ pass-defense looked suspect last week, top receivers Caden Pratt and Cade Harkins both posted 100-yard receiving nights. Harkins and Caden Pratt have already combined for five touchdown passes and about 400 receiving yards.

Though happy with those two receivers, Coach Pratt said, “We’ve gotten too many drops balls from all of our receivers.”

McAlester’s passing game will work against Claremore’s 4-4 defensive front. Hope and Meisinger double as inside linebackers for the Zebras, while Horsman plays defensive end.

Gilbreath said he expects more passing from the Buffs this year. And though 4-4 defenses typically focus on stopping the run, Gilbreath said his team’s goal is to contain McAlester’s short-yardage passing game.

“Just because we’re in a four-four doesn’t mean we’re blitzing every down,” Gilbreath said.

“We probably won’t do a lot of blitzing because of their screen game.”

McAlester’s screen game looked solid during the first half, but not during the second half. McAlester quarterback Dalton Wood also threw two interceptions on short-yardage passes over the defensive line, and he’s thrown at least one interception every week dating back to McAlester’s home scrimmage on Aug. 23.

Coach Pratt said Wood just needs more reps at quarterback, as he’s still learning how to read defensive lines.

Wood and the rest of the Buffs will get plenty more reps tonight.

Contact Matt Goisman at mgoisman@mcalesternews.com.

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