BLANCHARD — The last time Blanchard was this close to a district championship was 2005. The Lions ultimately came up one win short.
That year, the Lions' pursuit of a district title was actually decided in a Sept. 23 loss that capped an 0-4 start before they won six straight to take the No. 2 seed.
The road block to their 2005 district title?
Blanchard will face the Tigers once again on Friday, knowing that a win will guarantee a district championship, as well as an undefeated season.
“The atmosphere is going to be unbelievable,” Blanchard coach Jeff Craig said of the game against the Lions' nearby rival. “Really, I think you're talking about even possibly like a state championship atmosphere. It's going to be unbelievable on both sides.”
Blanchard has been one of the bigger surprises of the year. They were regarded as a fringe top-20 team in the preseason. But behind quarterback Brock Lamle, an experienced group of skill players and a group of linemen who progressed quickly, the Lions have charged to the forefront and are ranked No. 4 in Class 3A.
All season, things like the pursuit of a district — or even state — title have been discussed in Blanchard.
“We've talked about a lot of that stuff all year,” Craig said. “I think if you're not gonna talk about it, you're not thinking about it. And if you're not thinking about it, you can't get there. We talked about winning the district and winning a gold ball, because those are the things we want to accomplish.”
Wins by Tuttle and Jones Friday throw the district championship in to a points tiebreaker, with all three teams currently separated by just 18 district points — meaning any of the three could come out on top.
And whoever wins District 3A-1 will have accomplished something special in a district that currently has three top-10 teams, and three of the strongest offenses the class has to offer.
With the district title on the line, Craig believes his players are ready for the intense atmosphere expected at Bill Hinkle Field Friday night.
“I think the kids are focused and they're locked into what's ahead of us,” he said. “We expect Tuttle to be fired up and playing their best. We're hoping we play our best and see where the chips fall.
“Friday night is why you play. Friday night is why we coach football. It's gonna be a great night.”
Fans pick Walker as Player of the Week
The fans selected Crescent quarterback Preston Walker as the Oklahoma City-area Player of the Week in the NewsOK Varsity poll.
Walker threw five touchdown passes and rushed for another TD to help Crescent bounce back from its first loss of the season with a 47-13 win over Watonga.
Here are the results of the fan poll:
Preston Walker, Crescent: 838 votes (42.2 pct.)
Danny Krenger, McGuinness: 811 votes (43.8 pct.)
Frankie Edwards, Mustang: 121 votes (6.5 pct.)
Michael Farmer, Edmond North: 68 votes (3.7 pct.)
Jimmy Wood, Noble: 14 votes (0.8 pct.)
Total: 1,852 votes