All the talk this week was about the health of Heritage Hall stars Sterling Shepard and Barry J. Sanders.
Shepard suffered a hip-flexor injury in last week's victory over Little Axe and Sanders hadn't seen the field since Week 6, battling a foot injury. They are two of the most dynamic offensive players in the state, without question.
But there is another side to this team.
Powered by a disciplined and opportunistic defense, Heritage Hall blanked Bridge Creek 34-0 on Friday night in a Class 3A second-round matchup at Pop Murray Memorial Field.
And thanks to 49 unanswered points by Spiro in its win against Nowata, Heritage Hall will play host to Spiro in the quarterfinals next Friday.
â€œWe played great tonight, couldn't have picked a better time,â€ junior defensive end Quintaz Struble said. â€œWe hustled and were able to sack him (Ryan Spangler) a couple of times. He's a real good player.â€
Hustling is one thing but staying disciplined was the other. Spangler has been known for his ability to make his biggest plays when everything breaks down.
Plays broke down often against the Chargers (12-0). Struble and Markus Wakefield never got out of their lanes to give Spangler the chance to make something happen.
It's not like Spangler didn't have his chance, though. Bridge Creek (8-3) started its first three possessions inside the Heritage Hall 40-yard line.
However, when first quarter ended, Spangler had thrown an interception to Shaun Tkach, the Bobcats were stopped on downs and lost a fumble.
â€œWe watched a lot of film and were ready for this game,â€ Tkach said. â€œWe knew we were going to have some opportunities to make things happen.â€
Spangler, one of the best quarterbacks in the state, was held to 35 yards and threw two interceptions. The Chargers also recovered two fumbles and limited the rushing attack to 85 yards.
With the defense in control, the offense found its footing in the second quarter. Senior quarterback Cooper Cloud connected on touchdowns with Sanders (25 yards) and Shepard (32 yards) to give the Chargers a 14-0 lead at half.
Cloud and Shepard hooked up one more time for a 35-yard score to start a string of three straight drives ending in touchdowns.
It wasn't Sanders' best night. He only rushed for 34 yards on 15 attempts but his presence gave the team that swagger again.
â€œI feel good. I could be healthier right now, but I'm doing OK,â€ Sanders said. â€œI was a little bit nervous about being out here, but I'm ready.â€