By BEN JOHNSON
Life on the road hasn’t been all that bad for Keys this season. Since enduring a 31-10 setback at Claremore-Sequoyah in Week 1, the Cougars have gone 4-0 away from home.
Keys even knocked off District 3A-7 foes, Lincoln Christian, Jay and Locust Grove, along the way to secure a second-place finish in the district.
“We actually, a little more than jokingly, said we feel better on the road,” Keys coach Gary Willis said. “The boys said they feel pretty relaxed on the bus vs. sitting around in the clubhouse.”
In Keys’ last three road wins, the Cougars — who went 3-3 at home — have scored an average of 42.3 points per game.
Thanks to a severely unbalanced schedule this season, Metro Christian started off the season with six straight home games. The Patriots then closed the regular season with three of four on the road.
“We tried to get this year’s schedule changed,” Metro Christian coach Jared McCoy said, “but a couple of teams couldn’t work around that.”
During its time at home, Metro Christian went 6-1 during the regular season, and last week against Henryetta, the Patriots won easily at home, 41-8.
“Home playoff games are important,” McCoy said. “I don’t know how much the home crowd factors into the game, but the familiarity is always a plus.”
Victories since Verdigris
Metro Christian began a critical four-game stretch late in the regular season. The Patriots were to take on Verdigris, Claremore-Sequoyah and Berryhill, with the District 3A-5 crown to be handed out to the team that got the better of the other three.
Unfortunately for Metro Christian, a 23-20 loss to Verdigris in Week 7 made claiming the district title that much harder for the Patriots to obtain.
“Losing early isn’t all the bad,” McCoy said. “All around, that loss didn’t hurt us that much and probably even helped us.”
That’s because the Patriots closed out the regular season 3-0 — beating Sperry, Claremore-Sequoyah and Berryhill along the way — and ended up winning its fourth straight district championship.
“We’ve had a really challenging district,” McCoy said. “We circled three or four games and were able to win most of them except for the Verdigris game.”
Maxey vs. Webb
A matchup to watch in the trenches will be Keys’ Blake Maxey vs. Metro Christian’s Zach Webb. Both lineman — both drawing significant college offers — will play both ways on the offensive and defensive fronts. And both will likely lock horns a time or two.
“He’ll get doubled a lot by Blake and Chris Kelley,” Willis said. “Those guys are looking forward to those matchups. We even challenged Blake a little bit and he’ll do just fine. It’ll be a good matchup.”