SMALL SCHOOL PREVIEW: Wilburton looking to begin season 2-0

COREY STOLZENBACH | Staff PhotoWilburton sophomore Lane Spruell (8) rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns as the Diggers defeated Talihina, 44-8, Sept. 6. 

Wilburton could improve to 2-0 on Friday for the first time since 2016, when it began 5-0.

Jeff Marshall, coach of the Diggers (1-0) said winning the first couple of games that year really catapulted his time through the first half of that season. 

Wilburton travels to take on an 0-2 Konawa team, but Marshall said the Tigers look good on film. He said Konawa has big players and also speed, but added the Diggers have speed, too. Marshall wants to make sure Wilburton doesn't overlook this upcoming game.

He anticipates the Tigers will run the football, and touted their junior tailback, Isaiah Gore. Marshall said Gore can, "change the game in a minute." 

Wilburton's defense allowed negative rushing yards in 44-8 Sept. 6 win at Talihina, though Marshall said the Golden Tigers didn't run the ball a lot that game. 

"You put up numbers like you did last week, and you got to feel kind of good about yourself," Marshall said. "I think we'll play aggressive, and I think we'll get after them." 

The fourth-year coach has been pleased with what the Diggers have shown on offense. Marshall has traditionally been a run-first coach, but Wilburton has transitioned to a more balanced style of offense, and it showed in both the aerial and rushing attacks against Talihina.

Sophomore Lane Spruell carried the ball 12 times for 125 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Marshall isn't sure that Spruell is going to rush for that amount every game, but that's what he likes about the spread offense. He knows what Spruell is capable of, and can be used if Wilburton's opponents try to stop the pass.

The quarterback-wide receiver duo of sophomore Grayson Mathis and junior Christian Gockel, respectively, made an impact against the Golden Tigers as well. 

Mathis is already on the verge of eclipsing some of his numbers from his 2018 freshman season. He threw for three touchdowns against Talihina, just one shy of his entire total last year. Mathis also had 249 passing yards and 308 yards from equaling his freshman total.

"He's just matured a lot, and I think this really fits his demeanor," Marshall said of Mathis, who has the freedom to make audibles. "He wants to go make plays. He wants to get the ball to playmakers, and so I think he's really taking a hold of this offense and has really ran with it."

Gockel led the way for Wilburton's receivers. His five receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns all paced the Diggers. Marshall said Gockel has made a huge jump, and said he thought about moving him to tackle because he hadn't grown yet and wasn't sure what to do with him.

The coach praised his competitiveness. He added that his receiver has physically matured, and has a desire to make plays. 

"If the ball's in the air, he feels like it's his," he said. "He's got big time potential to have a great year." 

The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Konawa won the 2018 matchup, 20-0.

Spiro at Hartshorne, 7 p.m.

The Miners (0-1) will be playing on their home field for the second week in a row. They will look to recover from a 49-6 loss against Stigler, Hartshorne's only score came in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Dallas Colbert's 10-yard rushing touchdown prevented Hartshorne from getting shutout, but the Miners were unsuccessful in their two-point conversion attempt.

The Miners totaled 106 yards of offense against the Panthers, while turning the ball over on three interceptions.  

Spiro won last year's game between these two teams, 32-0. 

Cave Springs at Canadian, 7 p.m.

The Cougars (1-0) have their home opener Friday night after a 52-6 win at Foyil. Canadian showed balanced offense with 155 passing yards and 188 rushing yards, but the Cougars defense shut the Panthers down. 

Canadian held Foyil to just four yards passing, and -35 yards rushing. 

Speaking of 52-6, that was the same score the Cougars had last year against the Hornets. They're returning multiple senior players from that game last year, including Carson Thompson, who had seven total touchdowns in the opening week at Foyil, and also Terrell Crawford, who caught five passes for 98 yards and two scores.

Quinton at Graham-Dustin, 7 p.m.

The Savages (1-1) did not play Sept. 6, but were declared a winner by forfeit against Cross Christian Academy. They fell two weeks ago, 26-14, at home against Empire. Leading the way in that game were juniors Caden Birckel and Blaize Bray, who each had a rushing touchdowns.

However, Quinton also committed three turnovers. Birckel fumbled twice, while senior quarterback Dakota Gragg threw an interception. Gragg was 4-of-8 passing for 46 yards.

Liberty at Savanna, 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs (0-1) hope to bounce back from a Sept. 6 39-6 loss at Antlers. Taylor Barr's first win as Savanna's coach could come on Friday against a Liberty team it defeated 48-0, last year.

One player who made a big impact on both sides of the football was Clay Wageman, who is back for his senior year. Wageman ran the ball eight times for 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns at running back, and was also a presence on defense. The linebacker totaled five tackles, three sacks and an interception. 

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com 

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