The light at the end of the tunnel appears to be minuscule for Tahlequah right now. Its resemblance is closer to a laser pointer, rather than a flood light.
But hope is not lost for the Tigers. All Tahlequah has to do is post victories in the final three weeks of the regular season and hope for some help along the way.
First up on that must-win list for the Tigers is Pryor tonight at Doc Wadley Stadium at 7.
“We have to win our final three for the playoffs to be a possibility,” Tahlequah head coach Brad Gilbert said on Thursday. “We have to take care business this week.”
In order to do that, Tahlequah will have to corral Pryor quarterback Brennon Barth, who through seven games is knocking on the doorstep of 1,000 rushing yards. The junior quarterback has logged one of the highest totals of touchdowns scored (15), thanks to his execution in Pryor’s triple option attack.
“We have to slow down the quarterback and fullback,” Gilbert said, mentioning Pryor’s other primary ball carrier, Matt McGouldrick, who has 682 yards on 124 carries this season.
“It’s an offense that not many teams have been able to slow down. Hopefully we can slow it down and cause some problems.”
It’ll be Tahlequah’s second time against a triple-option offense this season. The Tigers (1-6, 1-3 District 5A-4) gave up 261 yards on 50 carries in a 41-6 loss to Rogers (Ark.) in Week 2. Pryor’s attack also varies from the Mounties’ running execution, mainly with the option coming out of spread formations with multiple wide receivers.
“We’ve kind of seen a glimpse of this when we played Rogers,” Gilbert said. “They do it a little differently with different schemes. (Pryor) makes few to no mistakes, so they’re operating within the system very well.”
Pryor enters Week 8 as the leader in 5A-4, holding a record of 5-2 overall and an unblemished 4-0 mark in district play. Pryor’s biggest win of the season came last week in a 35-26 triumph over Claremore in a battle of the top two teams in 5A-4.
So will is there a chance of a letdown from Pryor?
“Shoot, that’s not a problem at all,” Pryor head coach Jason Freeman said. “We approach every game the same way.”
Further validating his point, Freeman talked about Tahlequah’s offensive weapons and how dangerous they could be if Pryor doesn’t show up ready to play.
“No. 21 (Brandon Conrad) and No. 2 (David Dick) are the scariest duo that we have faced,” Freeman said of Tahlequah’s rushing leaders — Conrad (running back with 513 yards) and Dick (quarterback with a team-high 748 yards and 11 touchdowns).
“(Central’s D’Angelo) Brewer was scary and so was (Wagoner’s Lawrence) Evitt. But as a duo, they’re the best together that we’ve played.”
Baffled a bit by Tahlequah’s record, Freeman also said that Tahlequah could easily be one of the district’s best with the talent that it possesses.
“They could very well be in the position that we’re in,” Freeman said. “They’re probably a few turnovers away from fighting for this district, I believe.”