By Matt Goisman
McALESTER — The 2012 Bishop Kelley Comets came into Hook Eales Stadium and stole a district title from the McAlester Buffaloes.
The 2013 Buffs will try to return the favor tonight in Tulsa.
“This is a huge, huge step in accomplishing that goal of being district champions,” Buffs coach Bryan Pratt said Wednesday.
“Last year was the turning point for us at that game. We had receivers that didn’t block very well, we dropped some balls, we didn’t play very well at certain places. Those kids really boned up the next week and kind of flipped the switch, and that’s when we went on our run and ended up going to the semis.”
The Buffs currently lead District 5A-3 with a 4-0 record — 6-1 overall — but the Comets are one of four teams with a 3-1 district record. The 5-2 Comets currently rank third, and with fifth-ranked Skiatook playing fourth-ranked Tulsa Memorial tonight, a Buffs win would go a long way towards a district title and two home playoff games.
“We felt like we had a really good week of practice, so we’ll go out and see what happens,” Pratt said.
“This is the time of year when you really need to start getting going and playing your best football, and I think our kids understand that.”
The Buffs face a Comets team coming off a 42-10 loss at home to Shawnee. Between that loss and Homecoming festivities taking place before the game, the Comets will be fired up to face the Buffs.
“They pretty much dominated up front at the line of scrimmage,” Pratt said of Shawnee last week. “If we can do that, that’ll be a big plus for us.
They were able to run the ball and throw the ball both, and then they were able to stop them and get some key stops on defense.”
Pratt said the Comets run a lot of offensive plays out their spread and empty sets. Though traditionally more of a run-based team, Pratt said, the 2013 Comets’ offense has looked more varied and multi-faceted, and the Buffs’ defensive backs will likely see as much action as their linebackers and linemen.
“You have to stop the run and the pass,” Pratt said. “Their quarterback has been hurt for about the last five weeks, but the kid who’s come in and played quarterback is very, very productive.”
Kelley’s defense, meanwhile, looks a lot like the run-stopping defense of last year. With 136 points allowed in seven games, Bishop Kelley’s defense ranks second in the district.
The Comets have routinely kept eight in the box this season, Pratt said, and unless the Buffs want their running backs to take a beating, they’ll need to find a way to move the ball in the air. With 343 total points this season, McAlester’s offense ranks second in 5A, just three points behind top-ranked Guthrie.
“We’ve had some luck in the past on them,” Pratt said. “We’ll be able to try to run it and throw it when we can. But that’s what we feel like we’ll get, what we call a ‘bear’ look, and they’ll be bringing guys off the edge like they did last year.”
The Buffs will be without starting quarterback Dalton Wood for the third consecutive game. Pratt said Wood tried to return to practice earlier this week, but it became clear Tuesday that Wood still needed more time.
Instead, the Buffs will go with Caden Pratt at quarterback. Pratt has looked more confident throwing the ball this year, throwing six touchdown passes in three games.
Four of Caden’s touchdown passes have been for 30 or more yards, and two have been for 60 or more.
“He understands that we’re going to have to be able to throw the football to be successful,” Coach Pratt said of Caden. “He’s a year older, a little more mature as far as the offense goes.”
To get to Bishop Kelley High School, take US-75 N, then exit onto I-44 E. Take exit 230 toward Sheridan Rd., then merge onto E. Skelly Drive.
After 0.3 miles, turn left onto E. 41st St., then after another 0.3 miles turn right onto S. Hudson Ave. Bishop Kelley is at 3905 S. Hudson Ave.
Angelo Prassa Field is on the Bishop Kelley campus.
“This is the rival game for us,” Pratt said. “To me, it’s the rival of the teams that we play. Since I’ve been here, Bishop Kelley is probably the one rival team that we’ve had consistently every year.
“It’s the No. 2 game in the Tulsa World, so we’ve played in a lot of games this year. A lot of games have been ranked in the top 10 in the state, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
The Buffs and Comets kick off at 7 p.m.
Contact Matt Goisman at email@example.com.