BY RYAN ABER
TULSA–One of the top games in the state this week (I ranked it as the top game) is tonight’s matchup between Class 5A No. 3 Carl Albert and defending champion and No. 5 Tulsa Washington.
The Hornets have held the upper hand for much of this series but return just two offensive starters from the team that started last season beating the Titans 12-10 and then went on to win a state title for the second time in three years.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: CARL ALBERT
The Titans usually have a couple of big-time players and a lot of other guys that fill their roles to near perfection. Carl Albert coach Gary Rose and his staff have made a habit out of taking undersized but hard-working players and molding them into a championship-caliber team.
This team is no exception and no player embodies those qualities like Darren Colquitt, who’s listed at 5-foot-9 and 204 pounds and starts on both sides of the ball.
Dillan Dansby earned the starting quarterback job a year ago before going down with a knee injury as Taylor Hawkins took over.
Dansby is back and looking 100 percent, earning the official starting quarterback spot. But Rose will still work in Hawkins in situations where it merits, especially in short-yardage situations.
Another signature of Rose’s teams, especially of late, has been their standout defensive backs. Once again, the secondary will be a strength for the Titans, headed by Alex Polston.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: TULSA WASHINGTON
While just two offensive starters return from the team that went 13-1 last year, Darrell Hall’s squad isn’t short on talent.
Many of the players who are starting tonight saw playing time last year but it’s a different animal starting a game versus coming in after the starters have already built a lead.
Wide receiver/defensive back Jared Collins, an Arkansas commit, and running back Delshawn McFayden highlight players who will be starting for the first time but who aren’t lacking in experience.
One spot where the Hornets have a good group of players back is at linebackers where Jarvis Hinson and Mike Evans, a junior, return.
I see the roles reversed here. Carl Albert is typically the team that needs some time to get settled in early in the season before coming on strong as the season progresses. This season, the Titans, while there’s no doubt there are improvements to be made, are in good position. I fully expect Tulsa Washington to be there near the end but tonight, I’m going with Carl Albert, 22-21.