SMALL SCHOOL PREVIEW: Wilburton hopes to keep hot start going

ADRIAN O'HANLON III | Staff PhotoJunior Brad Jones (73) and Wilburton are off to the team's best start since the undefeated regular season of 1988. 

It's been a while since Wilburton football has had a start like this.

The Diggers (5-0, 2-0) took a 15-point win last week against Valliant to notch their first 5-0 start to a season since 1988, when they finished with an undefeated regular season and made it to the second round of the playoffs.

Wilburton's early success helped it into a tie for 10th this week's Associated Press Oklahoma high school football poll for Class 2A and is the best start under fourth-year coach Jeff Marshall.

"They're really humble about what's going on, and at the same, excited about it," Marshall said. "I'm just proud as a coach to have those kids having the success that they deserve for the effort they've put in."

The coach said he knew going into the year that Wilburton could accomplish what it has so far.

He said the players' consistency is better than he expected and credited their willingness to be prepared.

Marshall said his players are aware of the things they have done so far, but preaches to them the next game is the most important.

"It's great for our community," Marshall said. "It's something that we can all be proud of."

This week's game is a 7 p.m. kickoff at Atoka (4-1, 2-0), which the Diggers bested, 28-0, in last year's matchup.

Marshall said the Diggers will focus on stopping Atoka junior Trent Yarbrough, who moved from quarterback to running back this year. 

He said Wilburton did a good job of containing Yarbrough when he quarterbacked Atoka in 2018. Marshall said the Diggers had a good defensive scheme last year against the talented runner.

However, he said both teams will have different schematics in this game. Marshall cited Yarbrough's move to running back, and the Diggers having a new offense where they're more of a spread. 

Wilburton's rush defense has allowed 660 yards, which is one of the fewest in the area. Marshall praised the job defensive coordinator Johnny Skimbo has done, said the defense flies to the football and gets there in a hurry.

He described his secondary as "ballhawks," with sophomore safety Aubrey Runkle picking off seven passes so far in 2019. Marshall added junior Christian Gockel has the speed to make plays on both sides. 

The coach added that it starts upfront, though, and that junior Brad Jones, as well as seniors Cole Meaders and Clayton Lawson, have done well. 

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and Marshall said it's important for the Diggers to execute their game plan on both sides of the ball.

"It's no doubt in my mind it's going to be the best opponent we've faced so far, and we've got to bring our best game that we've played so far if we want to come out of there with a win," he said.

CADDO AT CANADIAN, 7 p.m.

The Cougars (5-0) are off to the best start in team history. They are scheduled to open District B-5 play with the best record of anybody in their district as no other team is undefeated. 

Canadian has made playoff appearances in previous years, but will look to its seniors to help win its first-ever district title.

Senior quarterback Carson Thompson is the area's leading rusher with 905 yards and 19 touchdowns on 70 carries.

He forms a tandem with the second leading receiver in the area in fellow senior Terrell Crawford, who has 423 yards and six touchdowns. His 23 receptions are tied for first among area receivers.

The Cougars met the Bruins (1-4) in 2018, and won, 50-20.

SAVANNA AT WARNER, 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs (1-3) will look to get in the win column in District A-8 play for the first time this season. They're also seeking their first road victory of 2019.

Savanna has the area's second leading rusher in senior Clay Wageman. Wageman has totaled 368 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries so far this season.

He made an impact in last year's 22-21win with 31 carries for 141 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Eagles (1-4, 0-1)

HARTSHORNE AT ANTLERS, 7 p.m. 

The Miners (1-4, 0-2) will look to avoid a three-game skid when they travel to face the Bearcats (3-2, 0-2). Hartshorne lost last year's game, 45-0.

Junior running back Micah Baker led the Miners with 68 rushing yards on 18 carries in the 2018 game. Baker has carried the ball 58 times and scored three rushing touchdowns. His 343 yards on the season rank third among area runners. 

QUINTON AT DESTINY CHRISTIAN, 7:30 p.m.

The Savages (2-4) are back at it on Friday after an eight-day layoff. They prevailed, 60-18, Oct. 3 against Cave Springs.

Quinton lost last year's matchup, 58-20, when junior quarterback Blaize Bray ran for two scores.

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com 

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