HS FOOTBALL: Buffs taking center stage in district play

BROOKE YOUNG | For the News-CapitalThe McAlester Buffaloes have seen plenty of success on both sides of the ball, and will be tested once again as they face off against Coweta on Thursday.

Moments like these can turn the tides of a season.

The No. 6 Buffaloes (5-1, 2-1) are set to host No. 5 Coweta (5-1, 3-0) in one of the most highly-anticipated games of 2020 at 7 p.m. Thursday. The game will have implications in state rankings — and the fate of District 5A-3.

McAlester coach Forrest Mazey said the Buffs will have their work cut out for them when they take to the field on Thursday night.

“They’re a good football team,” he said. "We’ve just got to show up and go to work.”

The Buffs are coming off a dominant 42-6 win on the road in Durant last Friday. But with the upcoming Fall Break for Oklahoma schools, the Week 7 games will all take place on Thursday.

Mazey said the quick turnaround presents a little bit of a challenge, but is confident his team will put in the hours needed to be prepared for the game.

“You’ve got a quick turnaround, so you’ve got to get back quickly and get ready,” Mazey said. “We’ve got to be ready to work.”

The Coweta Tigers are coming off a massive win of their own, after taking down East Central 62-20 to take a 3-0 record in the district standings.

The Tigers are led by quarterback Gage Hamm, who has completed 77-of-109 passes for 1,312 yards and 15 touchdowns so far this season, while also rushing 51 times for 285 yards and five scores.

Hamm is complimented in the ground game by Na’kylan Starks, who has rushed 44 times for 253 yards and a score, and William Mason, who has amassed 228 yards on 33 carries with five touchdowns.

The Tigers also boast a well-rounded receiving corps, with Mason Ford leading the way with 23 catches for 578 yards and seven touchdowns.

Coweta is averaging around 400 yards of offense per game, while the McAlester defense has only allowed just over 200 yards per game.

The Buffs will use their defense, and combine it with their high powered offense in the game.

Quarterback Trent Boatright has thrown for over 1,000 yards with seven touchdowns, and is throwing to top receivers Gavin Johnson, with 14 catches for 547 yards and two touchdowns, Lleyton Bass, 11 catches for 156 yards and two scores, and Erik McCarty, with six catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns.

McCarty also anchors the run game for the Buffs alongside Dakota Moton, with 1,042 yards and 13 touchdowns, and 252 yards and two touchdowns respectively.

Mazey said he’s proud of how his team has been able to produce on both sides of the ball so far this season. Thursday’s game is going to be one of their biggest tests yet, and he believes that all of the Buffs’ hard work will pay off for them down the stretch.

“It’s all about how you finish,” Mazey said. “It’s going to be a big one at the Hook.”

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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