It's never easy replacing a four-year starting quarterback.
Guthrie coach Rafe Watkins, however, never had any doubts that senior quarterback Reed Roberts could get the job done.
As Watkins stood on the field Friday in Sapulpa following the top-ranked Bluejays' 45-13 rout of Collinsville, he relished in the fact that Roberts performed so well when needed.
In fact, it was the best performance of the year for Roberts and one reminiscent of former quarterback Bryan Dutton.
“We had to loosen them up by throwing the ball,” Watkins said. “We've said all year long that Reed is certainly capable of throwing the ball, we'd just rather not have to. But tonight we got to the point, and we'll probably have to next week sometime, to where we had to throw the football to win it.”
Guthrie (13-0) plays No. 2 McAlester (12-1) in the Class 5A championship Friday night at 7 in Oklahoma State's Boone Pickens Stadium.
And it'll be another chance for Roberts to shine.
Friday looked like a routine night for Roberts, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 132 yards. But it was his three second-quarter touchdown passes that made his night stand out.
The first touchdown pass was a thing of beauty, a perfectly thrown fade to the back corner of the end zone to L'liott Curry for 15 yards. The ball was thrown high and to the exact spot where only Curry could catch it.
The final throw came on a trick play where running back Kai Callins kept the ball in the Wildcat formation to the left, only to pitch it to Roberts, who then found Curry for a leaping catch over a defender in the end zone.
Roberts, who has signed with Harding to play baseball, understands his role in a run-first offense, but certainly enjoyed throwing those passes.
“Since I'm going for baseball, I'm kind of playing my role and doing what I need to do,” he said. “It's nice to have a guy like Kai back there to make plays, but it's up to me to do my job whenever I'm called on.”
Watkins said the only week Roberts has struggled this season is when the Bluejays edged rival Carl Albert 28-21 and Roberts turned the ball over four times.
He's performed admirably since, entering Friday with 1,330 passing yards and 16 touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes.
“Anytime we feel like we can get 100 yards passing and be the high percentage that we are, it's just outstanding for us,” Watkins said. “We feel like most of the time we're going to get our 200-250 rushing and if we can get around 100 passing yards, with the way our defense plays, we're going to be in most games.”