EDMOND — Now the real playoffs can begin.
After Edmond Santa Fe finally disposed of a pesky Putnam North team, 35-12, on Friday night at Wantland Stadium, the Wolves turned their attention to the playoff game that everyone wants to talk about: the quarterfinal matchup with four-time defending 6A champ Tulsa Union.
Union edged Westmoore, 17-14, Friday night to set up the 6A showdown between two of the best teams in the state this season next Friday night at Wantland Stadium.
Union has won six of the last eight state 6A titles, and Putnam North coach Bob Wilson will be rooting for the Wolves.
“Hopefully, they can keep that ball on this side this year,” Wilson said after Friday night's loss to Edmond Santa Fe (10-1). “They are very talented. I think they've got a lot of playmakers.
“Games like that (against Union), you can't turn the ball over, but they got a lot of skill on that team. I think it will be a heck of a ballgame.”
Edmond Santa Fe linebacker/running back Phillip Sumpter said the Wolves will be ready for the Redskins.
“We know they are defending champs but we are hungry,” Sumpter said. “We are going to bring it (state title) back to the west.”
If the Wolves are to dethrone Union, they must play better than they did against the Panthers (6-5).
Edmond Santa Fe's normally explosive offense sputtered at times while Putnam North's trio of quarterback John Simon plus running backs Tae Moore and Larry Butler gave the Wolves' defense fits.
Still, the Wolves led 21-6 at halftime thanks to big plays in the kicking game.
Dale Jefferson's 51-yard kickoff return to open the game gave the Wolves a short field and set up quarterback Justice Hansen's 3-yard scoring run 10 plays later.
After Putnam North cut the margin to 7-6 on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Simon to Alex Clark, Cameron Westbrook returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards for Santa Fe.
Hansen then hit Trevan Smith for 32-yard scoring strike on the very next play. Later in the second quarter, Jefferson returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown.
“It's a good thing we believe (special teams) are a third of the game because that's why we were ahead at halftime,” Santa Fe coach Lance Manning said. “It wasn't because we were getting after them on offense and defense.”
Putnam North closed to 21-12 on the Panthers' opening possession of the third quarter when Simon hit Butler, who had 103 yards receiving in the game, on 35-yard touchdown pass.
Then Hansen made the biggest play of the game for the Wolves on their next possession. Facing third-and-5 at the Wolves 40 and a possible shift in momentum, the junior quarterback made a 59-yard scramble to the Panthers 1.
“That's typical of Justice to make a play like that when we needed it,” Manning said.
Smith scored his second touchdown of the game two plays later on a 3-yard scoring toss from Hansen.
Any hopes the Panthers had of pulling off the huge upset disappeared on the next two series. Putnam North drove to the Wolves 23, but Butler was stopped short of a first down on fourth-and-3 by Santa Fe defensive back Roosevelt Turner.
The Wolves then marched 77 yards in eight plays, capped off by Sumpter's 2-yard touchdown run and the outcome was no longer in doubt.
“I thought we were in it,” Wilson said. “I thought we played really hard.”
Now, Santa Fe gets the opportunity in the quarterfinals to slay one of the giants of Oklahoma high school football.
“Certainly Santa Fe is going to have to play a great football game,” Manning said of next week's contest against Union. “I know our guys will go into that game believing we are going to win and that will be the plan.”