Wesley Jackson likes his team’s depth, but is more excited about how they play.
Canadian’s football coach said his players are determined to keep winning in the best football season in program history as they head into the Class B quarterfinals Friday at home ranked fourth against fifth-ranked Cherokee.
“These kids just want it and you can see it,” Jackson said.
Friday’s winner advances to the state semifinals against the winner between second-ranked Regent Prep (12-0) and Alex (10-2). On the top side of the bracket, top-ranked Shattuck (11-0) will host third-ranked Dewar (12-0) with the winner advancing to play the winner between Davenport (10-2) and Pioneer-Pleasant (9-3) in the semifinals.
The Cougars (12-0) won the first district title in program history and Jackson said he wants to team to enjoy the ride and keep moving forward.
“That’s something that we tell these kids is ‘savor this moment,’” Jackson said. “Whatever happens after this happens, but take every day and enjoy where we’re at now because not many people get to play this long.”
Lake Lyon leads the way for Cherokee (11-1).
The quarterback has more than 1,000 yards on the ground and through the air this season. He has thrown for 17 scores and rushed for 23 rushing touchdowns this season, including six scoring runs in last week’s 52-6 win against Snyder.
“They put the ball in the quarterback’s hands a lot and they kind of let him dictate where the ball goes,” Jackson said. “It’s very similar to what Strother does with some run plays and quarterback keeps, and they can throw it.
Jackson acknowledged the similarities between Cherokee and his own team.
Canadian quarterback Carson Thompson is 114-of-163 passing for 2,013 yards and 29 touchdowns with just three interceptions and leads Canadian with 175 carries for 2,113 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Despite the similarities between the teams, Jackson said he has the utmost faith in his quarterback.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in the state as dynamic as Carson,” Jackson said. “Carson is definitely something special.”
Thompson’s top targets are Terrell Crawford (51 catches for 915 yards and 14 touchdowns) and Jake Brewster (24 catches for 629 yards and eight scores) who make two of the top-three receivers in the area this year.
Cherokee runs a 3-2 defense and brings linebackers tight, a scheme Jackson said Canadian has faced a few times this season.
The Chiefs have won seven consecutive games since a 60-34 loss to Laverne on Oct. 4 — averaging nearly 300 rushing yards and more than 100 passing yards during the streak.
“They're more spread so we're going to have to get a little more speed on the field and play sound up front,” Jackson said. “We have to keep doing our own jobs and not doing somebody else on the field’s job. If we all do our own job, it’ll all come together like we planned.”
Jackson said Friday’s matchup has several similarities with the game earlier in the year against Strother — both in the opposing team’s strategy and the rain forecast for the end of this week.
“It’s at our place, it’s supposed to rain, they’re coming 4.5 hours from a turf field, so I think the elements may change the game a little bit,” Jackson said.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org