Don’t be surprised if Pryor and Claremore fans are sporting a little bit of black and orange tonight. That’s for all the scoreboard watching they’ll be doing.
The Halloween colors will be in honor of Tahlequah, which will likely gain a few Pryor and Claremore fans during the final week of the regular season. That’s because both Pryor and Claremore stand to benefit from Tahlequah, if the Tigers can knock off Class 5A No. 9 Collinsville tonight at Doc Wadley Stadium.
Tahlequah’s postseason dreams have been dashed, so the Tigers’ last resort is to try and ruin Collinsville’s aspirations of a District 5A-4 championship.
So, no pressure. Right, Brad Gilbert?
“We don’t have any pressure,” Tahlequah’s head coach said. “We just want to send our seniors off on a winning note.”
If Tahlequah (1-8, 1-5 District 5A-4) picks up its second win of the season, Pryor would be the 5A-4 champion with a victory over East Central. Claremore would also bump up to the No. 2 spot, if it could knock off Grove.
Gilbert broke down the district standings for his team at practice this week.
“I told them,” Gilbert said, “’I don’t care who wins the district as long as it’s not Collinsville.’”
Of course that would mean Tahlequah is able to overcome a Cardinals (7-2, 5-1) team that hasn’t lost since Week 4 (42-38 against Claremore). Collinsville has won five straight games, thanks to Zane McElroy’s return at quarterback.
“Their quarterback came back three weeks ago and he makes a big difference,” Gilbert said of McElroy. “He’s a good football player.”
While a win would send the Tigers into the offseason feeling pretty good, it would also be harsh reality knowing that the playoffs were an obtainable goal for much of the season.
“That was our goal, and I thought we’d be at that point where we could compete for a playoff spot,” said Gilbert, whose club lost to Central and East Central by a combined three points in district play.
“We closed the gap, but we just didn’t close it enough. We would like to be playing for the playoffs, but there have been too many missed opportunities.”