The moment McAlester football fans have been waiting for is finally here.
The Buffaloes are scheduled to open their 2019 season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hook Eales Stadium against Muskogee — a team they haven't beaten since 2015. Muskogee took a 35-14 home win last year, and a 54-0 win at McAlester in 2017.
It is the latest installment of two teams who first met more than 100 years ago. The Buffs are looking to stop the run against the Roughers, having allowed five touchdowns and more than 200 yards in 2018.
McAlester coach Forrest Mazey thinks the Buffs are excited to get on the field Friday night and change the stigma after two losing seasons in a row. He didn't think Monday's Labor Day practice was the best, but loved that McAlester was flying around defensively in Tuesday's practice.
He said the coaches spent the week preparing the Buffs where Muskogee would line up, how the Roughers could react and to get the Buffs to do things fast.
Muskogee's Jimmie Coleman, who enters his senior year, had nearly 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns against McAlester last year. One of those touchdowns went for more than 80 yards.
"Not doing our job correctly on that play or not giving great effort on that play allows them to have a crease," Mazey said. "...If we do lay off and we don't have great detail and we don't have great effort on a certain play, they may find that crease."
Muskogee junior Ty Williams is a dual-threat quarterback and had a pair of touchdowns on the keeper against McAlester last year.
Mazey thinks Williams is more comfortable when he's moving, and said it would be ideal to keep him in the pocket. Williams is also a safety and has received an offer from the University of North Texas, an NCAA Division I program.
However, Mazey said he doesn't plan to handle an opposing player who is getting Division I attention any differently than he would handle anybody else.
"You know he could go the distance," he said. "I think you keep a good, sound defensive philosophy, understand who you have to stop, but understand that they have more plays than that and you can't get too caught up in that one person."
The coach said Muskogee has more athletes than McAlester does, but said the Buffs can out-tough, outplay and outsmart the Roughers. He's seen it happen from other places where he has coached at despite the other team having being more athletic at various times.
"Can you give that effort and be tough for four quarters and can you be more detailed than the other team for four quarters?" he asked.
Contact Corey Stolzenbach at firstname.lastname@example.org