McALESTER — The McAlester Buffaloes will find themselves in familiar territory tonight. They’ll be playing a 5A state semifinal, as they have the previous two seasons.
But while the previous two teams might’ve been satisfied just to reach football’s final four, the 2013 Buffs want more.
“We’ve been here three years in a row,” Buffs coach Bryan Pratt said Tuesday. “It’s time to take it to the next level and go win a state championship.”
McAlester will face Lawton MacArthur in the semis at Choctaw High School. Pratt’s Buffaloes have twice before faced the Highlanders, losing at MacArthur in 2007 and 2010.
Several members of the 2013 senior class played on that 2010 McAlester team that lost in the quarter-finals.
“It kind of felt like we were a little outmanned in those and don’t quite feel that way this time,” Pratt said.
“We come out and we play with momentum like we played with last week, we’ll be fine,” Pratt said. “If we come out and feel like we’re really good because we beat the No. 2 team, the defending state champion, then that’s where you get into trouble.”
The Highlanders went 8-2 during the 2013 regular season, winning District 5A-1 with a 6-1 district record. Both of MacArthur’s victories in the postseason have been by five points or fewer.
“It’s not like we’re playing some team that’s 5-6,” Pratt said. “This is a really good football team that has been to the semis or the finals about four of the last five years.”
Junior quarterback Will Collins has been an offensive leader for the Highlanders, completing 70 percent of his passes for 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns, according to stats available at NewsOK.com. He’s thrown just six interceptions in 193 attempts.
Gary McKnight Jr. has been one of Collins’ best receivers, with 34 catches for 665 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns.