Oct. 26—When the fourth-ranked Ada High football team travels to Poteau to face the top-ranked Pirates Friday night, there's an age-old paradox that describes the huge matchup perfectly.
It's a case where an Immovable Object will clash with an Irresistible Force. Something will have to give, during the District 4A-4 showdown that will determine the district champion.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Costner Stadium.
The hype for the big game is already off the charts. Both teams, whether they would like to admit it or not, have had this one circled on their calendars for a while. Now it's go time.
"The Daily Oklahoman has it as the No. 1 game in the state, but it is what it is. We've been telling our kids it's a football game and just go do what we do. Take a big game and make it small. We have to be careful to not get caught up in the hype of everything. I think our kids are ready to roll," Ada head coach Brad O'Steen told The Ada News Wednesday morning.
O'Steen said his team has practiced well during the first two workouts of the week.
"This is why we do all the work we do — to get to games like this," he said.
"The first two days of practice were extremely good. These kids understand what's going on," O'Steen continued. "It kind of bugs me sometimes because we may be playing an opponent that's not quite as good and we kind of practice like it. But when we have a big opponent such as an Ardmore or a McAlester or somebody like this we kind of dial in and focus harder. From here on out we have to be that way. We're all pushing toward the same goal and holding each other accountable."
The Ada defense is surrendering just 10.4 points per game while Poteau has given up 10.9 points per outing. Again, something has to give.
The Cougar D will be bolstered by the return of the M&M Brothers — Fisher Marr and George Maddox — to the starting lineup. Marr was limited to just a few deep snaps in last week's 48-14 home win over Fort Gibson and Maddox missed the entire contest while wearing a walking boot. Both players were participants in practice on Monday and Tuesday. Neither player is likely to be at 100 percent by the time Friday night rolls around, but wild horses won't keep them off the field inside Costner Stadium against the powerful Pirates.
Poteau will run a lot of misdirection and some play-action passing out of the Wing-T offense when its offense has the ball.
"It's a different type of offense. You have to be disciplined. Defensively, everyone has to take care of their responsibilities and do our job," O'Steen said. "It's kind of like playing an option football team. It's the same thing. The big story we've been telling our kids this week is to make it really simple by doing your job to the best of your ability every snap."
Do-it-all senior Dax Collins is in the center of the Poteau offensive universe. The University of Tulsa commit has rushed for 625 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had five catches for 115 yards and four scores. Collins is also the leader of Poteau's stingy defense.
"They have a lot of returners from last year. They have one of the better players in Class 4A in Dax Collins," O'Steen said. "He's a really, really good player. They're a very physical group, athletic and play extremely hard."
Collins isn't the only playmaker in an offense that likes to run the ball over 80 percent of the time. The Pirates, counting Collins, have a four-headed beast in the backfield. Spencer Perry has a team-high 82 carries for 540 yards and six touchdowns, Holden Mattox has a knack for finding the end zone with 60 carries for 565 yards and 10 scores and Waylyn Waddell also had 60 carries and has produced 385 yards and three touchdowns. Through eight games, Poteau has amassed 2,650 rushing yards as a team.
Quarterback Sam Tecla certainly isn't afraid to throw the ball. He has completed 31-of-51 passes for 450 yards and eight scores.
"Defensively, we have to make them earn everything they get. Don't give them any big plays. Keep the Collins kid under wraps," O'Steen said.
O'Steen described the Poteau defense as a "Smorgasbord," and that's not just because the Pirates like to feast on opposing offenses.
"Defensively, the word that comes to my mind is they are kind of a smorgasbord. They show a bunch of different fronts. They show some even fronts. They show some odd fronts. They're an attack-and-react type of defense. They attack hard and stunt a lot. and they're fast and physical," he said.
The Cougars are 4-1 in the overall series with Poteau but were on the short end of a 27-0 decision when they hosted the Pirates last year. In that contest, Collins finished with eight carries for 89 yards and a touchdown but also had two long TD romps nullified by penalties.
Keys to successO'Steen said his team needs to put together a few long drives on offense.
"The thing we need to do is make sure we can sustain some drives. We've been a big-play type of offense, but we need to go on some 8, 9 or 10-play drives and march down the field and score," O'Steen said. "We've talked to our offensive line and running backs about sustaining some drives. That's going to be big going forward."
The Ada coach said defensively, his team needs to be physical and create turnovers (the Cougars forced seven last week against Fort Gibson) and not be fooled by Poteau's motion offense.
"We need to give great effort and be physical," O'Steen said.
O'Steen said his club also must win the special team's battle.
"We need to create some situations on special teams. It would be nice to get a special teams' score on these guys but we have to get down and win the field position war," he said.