It all comes down to this.
Top-ranked McAlester (13-0) will face off against No. 2 Collinsville (13-0) in the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association Class 5A State Championship on 7 p.m. Saturday at Chad Richison Stadium in Edmond.
This marks the Buffs’ fifth time in program history to make the state title game — with championships won in 1968 and 1988, and runner-up finishes in 1996 and 2013. But coach Forrest Mazey said there's still one more job that has to be done.
“I’m pleased to be in the state championship,” he said. “But we have goals, and you can’t be complacent and be satisfied with just average performance. You’ve got to have performances that are unmatched, and we’re going to have to have that this week.”
Collinsville is appearing in its first state title game since 2015, and advanced to the state title game after taking a 27-20 win last week against defending state champion Carl Albert.
Senior quarterback Andrew Carney’s mobility has made him one of the keys for Collinsville’s offense — rushing 29 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns in last week's win over the Titans. Senior running back Brayden Gilkey added 19 carries for 238 yards and two scores in that game.
Collinsville ran for more than 600 yards in a 56-35 win against Bishop McGuinness in the 5A quarterfinals — including Carney's 35 carries for 325 yards and five touchdowns.
"I've talked about Guthrie being similar to us, this team is even more similar," Mazey said. "They do a lot of quarterback run game and running back run game.
"I think their o-line is solid and their defense is solid," he added.
McAlester will rely on its Black Death Defense that allows 212.8 total yards per game and has forced 21turnovers on the season.
The Buffs have 843 tackles, 109 tackles for a loss and 21 sacks — which is an increase of more than 400 tackles, 80 tackles for loss, and five more sacks since the current seniors were freshmen in 2018.
Mazey said he expects Collinsville to be the biggest challenge yet for the Buffs, but he relishes opportunities to overcome obstacles.
McAlester will also combat Collinsville with its own high-powered offense — which totaled 463 yards and six scores in the semifinal win against Lawton MacArthur last week.
The Buffs enter the championship game averaging 432.6 total yards this year, including 277.9 on the ground and 154.7 through the air.
Erik McCarty broke his own school record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 34 entering Saturday's game and has 69 rushing scores in his career — just four from tying Kevin Brown's program record 73. The junior has rushed for 1,741 yards this year — which is third all-time behind his own 1,966-yard season last year and Jerome Smith's 2,025-yard performance in 2013.
Quarterback Trent Boatright enters the title game with 1,720 yards and 23 touchdowns — both top-10 performances in program history for a season.
Mazey believes his team has the tools necessary to win it all, but said they’ll have to give a “gold ball effort” with every snap.
“They can go down as the best team in McAlester history,” Mazey said. “If they win at all and go 14-0, they will be the best team in McAlester history.”
Contact Derek Hatridge at email@example.com.