By Robert Przybylo
Bishop McGuinness (9-2) vs. Sallisaw (10-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Sallisaw (I’ll be there)
Why the Irish can win: Because like LaRone Richardson said during the week, McGuinness is loaded with players who can make big-time plays on each side of the ball. A healthy Richardson is huge, but so is the type of outings the Irish can get from Camden Tharp and Kyle Ahmad. And teams haven’t had much success penetrating this defense all season.
Irish key stats:
Passing: Tharp 52-90, 704 yds, 5 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Tharp 758 yds, 6 TDs; Richardson 561 yds, 12 TDs; Will Blaik 483 yds, 3 TDs
Receiving: Ahmad 24 rec., 493 yds, 5 TDs
Defense: Jameel Whitney 112 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs; Jay Lester 109 tkls, 1 INT; Dakota Leftwich 4 sacks; Ahmad 5 INTs; Richardson 4 INTs
Their quarterback is good. I mean real good. He’s going to be the biggest challenge we have. It’s not going to be easy.” – Richardson
Why the Black Diamonds can win: Because they’ve already fought through the playoff intensity in a 31-28 win against Collinsville. They’re ready for what it’s going to take in this one. And of course, as long as Matt Oberste is healthy, there is no counting out this team.
Sallisaw key stats:
Passing: Oberste 115-203, 1,758 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs
Rushing: Oberste 947 yds, 12 TDs; Jeremy Davenport 880 yds, 15 TDs
Receiving: Trey Wiley 66 rec., 788 yds, 6 TDs; Chase Hunt 16 rec., 231 yds, 2 TDs
Defense: Jake Fitzsimmons, 129 tackles, 7 sacks; Dakota Petree 75 tkls, 5 sacks, 2 INTs; Hayden Spencer 14 sacks; Trevor Fitzsimmons 13 sacks; Phillip Leffler 6 INTs.
Key matchup: Irish running game vs. Sallisaw front seven. Everything McGuinness does offensively is predicated off a successful running game. While Tharp has made strides all year as a passer, McGuinness does not want the game to be in his hands (at least throwing). Give it to Richardson and Jameel Whitney and run that clock out. Sallisaw gives up 127 yards per game on the ground. It’s going to have to do better than that.
Boneman’s Last Word: McGuinness has been cruisin’ since the big win at Douglass in Week 7. This game will bring ‘em back to some of those early battles. If the Irish respond well in the first quarter, think they won’t have any issues. Sallisaw is definitely ready, especially after last year. One big hit on Oberste might change things, you never know.
The pick: McGuinness 17, Sallisaw 12. Irish get up early before Oberste tries to lead the charge. Follow me on Twitter @BPrzybylo for all the updates.