Wolves to take on Coweta in battle of unbeaten teams in district

Brian Johnson
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee's Jaylon Orange (2) cuts upfield for yardage against Tulsa East Central last week.

Rankings now matter more than standings.

That's the scenario that the Shawnee Wolves face in their three remaining regular-season games this season as the OSSAA announced that all teams are now eligible for the playoffs. With teams not playing the same amount of games, due to implications from COVID-19, a ranking system will be employed to determine seedings for the playoffs.

“We voted to go standings only as opposed to ranking teams. Obviously, if we had gone standings, the worst we could be is fourth,” said Shawnee head coach Jason Sexton.

Now the Wolves, 4-0 in District 5A-3 and 4-2 overall, have to depend on voting from fellow coaches in the district in determining seeds. Shawnee has a chance to make an impression tonight at 7 o'clock against the host Coweta Tigers, also 4-0 in the district and 6-1 overall.

The game will be played at Bixby High School. Coweta has not played a game on its home field this season due to damage to its turf late in the summer.

“They are really good offensively and pretty good defensively,” Sexton said. “They're scoring a lot of points and have a really good quarterback (junior Gage Hamm) and receivers. You can barely tell what their numbers are (viewing on film) because they are so fast.”

Hamm, a 6-foot, 3-inches and 190 pounds, has completed 72.3% of his passes this season for 1,394 yards and 15 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He has also rushed for 418 yards on 67 carries and scored seven times. Hamm has had two 100-plus yard rushing games this year.

His top targets have been 5-10, 170 sophomore Mason Ford, who has 30 catches for 609 yards and seven touchdowns. Two seniors – Gunnar McCollough (6-3, 225) and Brent Barlow (5-11, 175) follow. McCollough has 23 receptions for 367 yards and three scores and Barlow has 14 grabs for 222 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively for the Tigers, McCollough, senior Hank Searcy (5-8, 155) and junior Michael Fletcher (5-10, 185) have each intercepted two passes. Searcy also has eight passes defensed.

Senior Justin Hines (6-6, 232) and sophomore Carson Flanary have two sacks apiece on the season. Senior Ryan Conley (5-11, 280) has registered nine tackles for losses while senior Jaxon Stidham (5-11, 190) and Hines each have seven tackles for losses.

Coweta is coming off an important 20-17 district victory at McAlester last week.

“Defensively, they execute really well with their schemes. They got speed and have good size. They are like a well-oiled machine,” said Sexton.

Preventing big plays will be a key for Shawnee, according to Sexton.

“We have to keep them from hitting the big play deep. They can make small plays into big ones,” Sexton said. “We need to run the ball and throw it when needed. We can't turn the ball over. We've got to grind clock with the run and keep their offense off the field.”

Shawnee stayed unbeaten in the district last Thursday with a 35-7 home rout of Tulsa East Central.

Junior Jaylon Orange ran for 209 yards on 17 carries and scored twice off runs of 15 and 38 yards while quarterback Karsen Conaway hooked up with scoring passes of 22 yards to Joe Maytubby and 55 yards to Karran Evans in last week's win. Defensively, Evans also picked off two Cardinal passes.

Demetress Beavers, who netted 89 yards on 13 attempts, had a 28-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to help cap off the scoring.

The Wolfpack defense also limited East Central to 32 yards rushing on 29 tries as a bulk of the Cardinals' offense came through the air (158 yards).

Shawnee is expected to see three players get back into action tonight, including Lane Williams, Ray McGirt and Sam Anderson.

Following tonight's action, the Wolves will play their final road district game at McAlester next Friday night. McAlester knocked off Shawnee in a non-district encounter earlier this season. Shawnee's final regular-season game will be at home against Tulsa Kelley on Nov. 6.