Class 5A No. 3 Carl Albert at No. 2 McAlester
*The plot: The Oklahoman's preseason Nos. 1 and 2 — with defending champ Carl Albert then holding the top spot — will square off in a quarterfinal game of championship proportions. The McAlester offense has been on fire lately, scoring 70-plus in its last two games and at least 50 in five of its last six.
Last week was the first time Carl Albert had been tested since its Week 5 loss to Guthrie, so the Titans have been able to rest up a little for the postseason run. Dual-threat McAlester QB Dalton Wood averages over 200 yards and about 20 pass attempts per game, while Carl Albert prefers to keep it on the ground. It's fairly common for QB Stevie Thompson to surpass the 30-carry mark, particularly in the playoffs.
*The pick: Carl Albert 34, McAlester 30. The weather could limit McAlester's ability to throw the ball, while it shouldn't have much impact on Carl Albert's stop-us-if-you-can rushing attack. The Buffs' potent offense will find a way to put points on the board, but not enough to outscore Stevie Football and the Titans.
You know that old coach's cliché about how it's hard to beat a good team twice in one season? Here are three games that will test the theory:
*Newcastle at Blanchard: Newcastle is one of only two teams to hold defending champion Blanchard below 35 points in a 28-7 loss in Week 3. The Racers have won six of their last seven and get another shot at their nearby rival.
*Tuttle at Plainview: It looked like an upset when Plainview beat Tuttle 19-14 in the season opener, but the Indians still haven't lost a game. Meanwhile, Tuttle has lost two of its last four.
*Cashion at Okeene: Another rematch of the season opener, a 26-14 Whippet win. But that night, Cashion QB Matt Harman was making his first career start as a freshman. Now he'll be making his 12th, and he has quarterbacked the Wildcats to seven straight victories.
BACKS TO THE FUTURE
Here are three superstar running backs whose performances Friday will heavily impact their teams' chances of advancing to the next round of the playoffs:
*Papi White, Seminole: Coming off a 466-yard performance last week against Marlow, White will be carrying the load once again as the Chieftains host a Heritage Hall team that struggled to stop the run early in the season. If the Chargers can contain White, they can keep themselves in the game. But the Heritage Hall defense can't afford to be sloppy with Papi.
*Michael Warren, Lawton: Warren has already surpassed the 2,400-yard mark through just 11 games, but you can argue he has yet to face a defense like Westmoore's. In the battle of the west's two best Class 6A teams, Lawton will need Warren to keep his magical season alive.
*Lawrence Evitt, Wagoner: Evitt hasn't seen a defense like Woodward's, but Woodward hasn't seen a back like Evitt, either. Small and shifty, Evitt creates an interesting matchup against Woodward's physical defense. And nasty weather could limit his quickness, which favors the Boomers.