By Scott Hansen
Dream Game: Morrison vs. Shattuck
The debate rages on. Who is the best eight-man football team in the Sooner State? Is it Class B defending champion Morrison, historically the top eight-man program nationally? Or is it Shattuck, the defending Class C champion and currently riding a streak of 55-straight wins and four-straight titles heading into this season?
Unfortunately the debate may never be solved on the field with Morrison heading to 11-man football in 2008. The two are separated by 173 miles, which are 173 legitimate reasons not to do battle on the field.
Last season, Shattuck traveled to Forgan (81 miles), Oklahoma City to play Windsor Hills Baptist (170 miles), Balko (69 miles), Buffalo (61 miles), and Sharon (43 miles) for road games. Shattuck is located in Ellis County in Northwest Oklahoma, and needs to travel to find road games.
Morrison, however, is not in the same boat. Morrison is located 16 miles north of Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University. The furthest the Wildcats had to travel to play was to Weleetka in non-district action, which is 121 miles away.
You can understand Morrison traveling to Weleetka. The Outlaws were one of the schools to disrupt Morrison's Class B dominance, winning the gold ball in 2002 and 2004. Heading into the 2006 season, Weleetka had won 47 of 50 district games and defeated Morrison in the 2004 title tilt, 46-6.
Ironically, Shattuck is chasing Morrison's state-record 90-consecutive victories, achieved between 1989 and 1995.
Who would have the upper hand in this battle for eight-man supremacy? You be the judge.
Morrison Wildcats (14-0)
@ Weleetka 40-0
@ Prue 56-8
@ Gans 68-20
Christian Heritage 50-6
@ Welch 48-0
Cave Springs 46-0
@ Oaks 46-0
Burns Flat 40-20
Pond Creek-Hunter 34-29
Offense: 50.3 points per game
Defense: 11.4 points per game
- Morrison had five shutouts in 2006, including three straight.
- State-record 90-game winning streak from 1989-95.
- 12 eight-man state championships.
Shattuck Indians (14-0)
@ Windsor Hills 36-8
@ Forgan 44-6
@ Balko 64-20
@ Buffalo 44-16
@ Sharon-Mutual 58-16
Boise City 36-12
Deer Creek-Lamont 28-12
Offense: 44.9 points per game
Defense: 12.3 points per game
- Broke away from Grandfield while leading 24-16 in Class C semifinals with 32 unanswered points.
- Four consecutive Class C titles.
- 55-game winning streak heading into 2007 season.
Eight-Man Preseason Top 10
1. Morrison (14-0, Class B State Champions)
This will be the final year in eight-man for Morrison before departing for the 11-man ranks in 2008.
The damage Morrison has done in their reign in eight-man has been simply amazing. The Wildcats hold eight-man national records for state championships (12), consecutive Victories (90, 1989-95), unbeaten teams (nine), and consecutive state championships (seven, 1988-94),
2007 is shaping up to be another stellar season in Morrison, with senior Ricky Holba returning. Holba rushed for 2,023 yards and 34 touchdowns as a junior. The most amazing statistic with Holba is that he averaged 11.4 yards per carry.
Junior Levi Masters compliments Holba. Last season, Masters rushed for 762 yards and 15 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Shawn Walls rushed for 204 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-14 victory over Davenport in the state title game. Walls threw for 1,533 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Senior Will Childress anchors the defense. Childress registered 76 tackles and 12.5 sacks as a junior. Joey Quintana led the defense with 101 tackles and added eight sacks.
Morrison should enjoy a nice swansong in eight-man football. Despite a strong push from Pond Creek-Hunter, the Wildcats are destined to win their 13th eight-man state title in 2007.
2. Shattuck (14-0, Class C State Champions)
The Indians have won 55-consecutive games heading into the 2007 season, and have won four straight in Class C.
In the high scoring world of eight-man football, Shattuck's dominance is predicated on defense. The Indians allowed just 12 points per game during their title run last season.
Junior linebacker Tyler Helfenbein leads the defense, while 220-pound senior Blake Holley returns at defensive end. Kahle Young returns at quarterback to lead the Indians offense, which was stellar in the playoffs averaging 45 points per contest. Holley is one of the best tight ends in eight-man football in Oklahoma, while Wyatt Kelin is a 260-pound junior lineman.
Shattuck could very easily run their winning streak to 69 games by the end of the season and win their fifth consecutive gold ball. For that reason alone, eight-man football is in good hands with a powerhouse like Shattuck.
3. Pond Creek-Hunter (12-1)
Junior Daniel Barwick returns for the Panthers. As a sophomore, Barwick rushed for 1,111 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 10.6 yards per carry. Barwick also caught three touchdown passes, further displaying his big play ability. Barwick also chipped in defensively with eight interceptions on the campaign.
Sophomore Rikki Winton appears to be the heir-apparent to Mark Frieouf (2,831 total yards, 47 touchdowns) at quarterback. In spot duty last season, Winton averaged over 10 yards per carry.
Trevor Donnell is another big play threat for the Panthers. On defense, Donnell had 122 tackles and four interceptions. Offensively on just ten receptions, he averaged over 30 yards per catch and scored seven touchdowns.
If the quarterback comes through for Pond Creek-Hunter, they could be a major player in the Class B title race. Last season in the Class B semifinals, Pond Creek-Hunter dropped a heartbreaker to eventual champion Morrison, 35-29.
4. Davenport (11-3, Class B runner-up)
Davenport made a run to the Class B state final last year behind the legs of running back Billy Jack Murphy. Murphy rushed for 2,594 yards and 37 touchdowns last season for the Bulldogs. Ethan Sartain returns as the starting signal caller. Last season, Sartain threw for 1,202 yards and 14 touchdowns.
5. Cashion (12-1)
Efficient quarterback play could be a huge plus for the Wildcats. Junior quarterback Cayden Cochran threw for 1,695 yards and 26 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions last season. Cochran completed 64 percent of his passes for the Wildcats.
Cashion is widely considered to have one of the best offensive lines in eight-man football, allowing the departure Alek Ryan to rush for 2,335 yards last season and 36 touchdowns. Craig Poor is one of the top linemen in the state, and returns to pave the way for whoever replaces Ryan.
6. Temple (10-4, Class C runner-up)
Quarterback Chris Bowles is back for the Tigers, fresh off a campaign where he threw for 1,803 yards and 27 touchdowns. Bowles made his presence felt in other ways, rushing for 875 yards and 14 scores, as well as recording 200 tackles on defense along with three interceptions.
Dante Wortley returns to bolster both sides of the ball. Wortley had 588 yards and 10 touchdown receptions a year ago, but moves to running back this fall. Wortley also had 82 tackles to pace the Tigers. Clint Keaton had seven sacks to lead the team a year ago, and also returns.
7. Dewar (10-2)
Offensive lines don't come much bigger, no matter what level you play on. Bobby Pointer and Russell Williams anchor the unit, both checking in at over 280 pounds. Together, they pave the way for quarterback Greg Bezzell.
Ronnell Lewis is another monster for the Dragons, checking in at 225 pounds, and will share time at running back with Kenny Hill. Dewar are a very dangerous team and should respond nicely following their quarterfinal exit last season.
8. Timberlake (8-3)
If there was a PlayStation game featuring eight-man football in Oklahoma, Timberlake would be a fun team to use. Quarterback Teague Burkes threw for 2,712 yards and 26 touchdowns last season for the Tigers, all of those in just 11 games. His favorite target, Nick Cash, led the state with 98 receptions, 1,329 yards, and 15 scores.
Matt Foster also put up impressive numbers despite clearly being Burkes' second option. Foster hauled in 44 passes for 632 yards and two touchdowns. Foster led the defense with 128 tackles, while Cash picked off four passes to lead the defensive backfield for Timberlake.
9. Covington-Douglas (10-2)
Ryan Donaldson might be small, but as the saying goes, big things come in small packages. Donaldson, at 5-7, 160 pounds, threw for 1,861 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead the way for the Wildcats. On defense, Donaldson picked off seven passes.
Jason Jetton complements Donaldson, having 1,318 total yards and 18 scores. Brandon Schram had 106 tackles and 11 sacks to pace the defense for the Wildcats. If this team gets on a roll, it could do some serious damage in November.
10. Grandfield (10-3)
Quarterback John Brown was impressive last season as a sophomore. In just 38 completions, Brown threw for 1,063 yards and 18 touchdowns. On the ground, Brown also racked up 995 yards and 16 touchdowns to lead the way for the Bearcats, who made a run to the Class C semifinals before running into Shattuck.
Elliott Leal had 139 tackles and 16 sacks to lead the way on defense. Brown also chipped in, registering 98 tackles while intercepting seven passes.
Teams to watch
Class B- Pioneer (8-3), Gans (9-2), Weleetka (5-5)
Class C- Ringwood (9-2), Ryan (11-2), Deer Creek-Lamont (8-4)
Eight-Man Preseason All-State
Most Valuable Player: Ricky Holba - RB- Morrison
Holba is the definition of a home run threat. Everything Holba touches turns to gold. Holba rushed for 2,023 yards and 34 touchdowns at an astonishing 11.4 yards per carry. On defense, Holba had five interceptions to lead a Wildcat defense that held opponents scoreless five times on the campaign. In the state title game victory over Davenport, Holba rushed for 214 yards and three scores.
Teague Burkes - Timberlake
Burkes threw for 2,712 yards and 26 touchdowns last season for Timberlake.
Billy Jack Murphy - Davenport
Murphy led the eight-man ranks with 2,594 yards and 37 touchdowns last season.
Nick Cash - Timberlake
Cash led the state with 98 receptions, 1,329 yards, and 15 touchdowns while hooking up with Burkes.
Michael Harmon - Arkoma
Another 1,000-yard receiver. Harmon had 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 26.5 yards per reception.
Rick Dority - Coyle
Dority stands at 6-6, 220 pounds for the Bluejackets. On defense, Dority made his mark with 106 tackles and 11 sacks.
Craig Poor - Cashion
Checking in at just 200 pounds, Poor helped Cashion produce a 2,000-yard rusher in 2006 anchoring a line widely-regarded as the best in eight-man football.
Levon Nichols - Ringwood
Nichols is 6-2, 282 pounds and should help Ringwood better their 9-2 record from '06.
Blake Holley - Shattuck
They don't come much more athletic than Holley, who leads the stingy Shattuck defense and could play anywhere in the state.
Will Childress - Morrison
Childress had 76 tackles and 12.5 sacks for the Wildcats as they once again proved their dominance in Class B.
Elliot Neal - Grandfield
Neal had 136 tackles and 16 sacks to lead the Bearcats to a 10-3 record.
Tyler Helfenbein - Shattuck
If eight-man fans have yet to hear of Helfenbein, they will by season's end. Helfenbein was a major force for a defense that averaged 12 points per game last season.
Daniel Peters - Maud
Peters had 125 tackles to lead the Tigers.
Daniel Barwick - Pond Creek-Hunter
Barwick swiped eight passes last season to lead the Pond Creek-Hunter defense.
Ryan Donaldson - Covington-Douglas
Donaldson is an excellent two-way threat. Donaldson had seven interceptions last season for Covington-Douglas.
Chris Bowles - Temple
Bowles had 200 tackles and three interceptions to lead the Tigers defense.
2006 Playoff Results
Burns Flat 50, Timberlake 6
Cashion 56, Kiefer 8
Davenport 34, Gans 28
Dewar 47, Welch 8
Fox 30, Laverne 22
Morrison 68, Allen 18
Pond Creek-Hunter 55, Cyril 38
Pioneer 44, Alex 40
Pond Creek-Hunter 58, Dewar 22
Morrison 40, Burns Flat 20
Davenport 28, Fox 18
Cashion 42, Pioneer 20
Morrison 34, Pond Creek-Hunter 29
Davenport 42, Cashion 36, OT
Morrison 56, Davenport 14
Covington-Douglas 46, Kinta 0
Deer Creek-Lamont 52, Midway 8
Grandfield 62, Sharon-Mutual 34
Ringwood 56, Maud 6
Ryan 46, Forgan 0
Shattuck 48, Paoli 0
South Coffeyville 50, Arkoma 18
Temple 36, Buffalo 18
Shattuck 28, Deer Creek-Lamont 12
Grandfield 28, Covington-Douglas 26
Ryan 42, Ringwood 12
Temple 16, South Coffeyville 8
Shattuck 62, Grandfield 16
Temple 26, Ryan 6
Shattuck 40, Temple 14
Past State Champions (since 1997)
Class B: 1997- Pioneer-Pleasant Vale, 1998- Garber, 1999- Pioneer-Pleasant Vale, 2000- Pioneer-Pleasant Vale, 2001- Pioneer-Pleasant Vale, 2002- Weeketka, 2003- Morrison, 2004- Weeketka, 2005- Morrison, 2006- Morrison
Class C: 1997- Tipton, 1998- Balco, 1999- Medford, 2000- Kremlin-Hillsdale, 2001- Pond Creek-Hunter, 2002- Pond Creek-Hunter, 2003- Shattuck, 2004- Shattuck, 2005- Shattuck, 2006- Shattuck
Scott Hansen: email@example.com