Tahlequah’s 2020 football schedule will have a completely different look.
The Tigers, who will begin fall camp on Aug. 10, will not face familiar non-district opponents in Fort Gibson and Coweta, and will not see Skiatook, Tulsa East Central or Tulsa Will Rogers in District 5A-4. New to this year’s schedule are Tulsa McLain, Wagoner, and district opponents Glenpool, Sapulpa and Tulsa Nathan Hale. Skiatook has moved down to Class 4A, while both East Central and Rogers shift to District 5A-3.
Familiar opponents in Sallisaw (non-district), Collinsville, Claremore, Pryor and Tulsa Memorial remain on the 2020 slate.
The Tigers played Fort Gibson the previous 10 years in season openers. They went up against Coweta 15 times since the 2006 season, three of those matchups in the playoffs.
Tahlequah went 9-2 in 2019 under head coach Brad Gilbert and claimed its first district championship since 1991. The Tigers have won 46 games and advanced to the playoffs over the last six seasons. They are 18-4 over the past two years.
Wagoner highlights the non-district portion of the schedule in week two and will give the Tigers an early-season test. The two schools haven’t met since 1991. Wagoner, who went on a state record 48-game win streak that started in 2014 and ended in 2017, went 10-3 last season.
“It’s always good to play somebody like that,” Gilbert said on Thursday. “We’ve been wanting to put them on the schedule for a while, and this year just that opportunity came up. I know [Wagoner head coach] Dale Condict really well and we’re excited about playing them. They know how to win. They’ve won at a high level for a long period of time. We know that they’re a big challenge but it’s a great test for us to find out where we’re at with a fairly young team early in the season.”
The meeting with Tulsa McLain at Doc Wadley Stadium to start the season will be the first since 1991. The Tigers have won five of the last six matchups with Sallisaw in a series that will extend to 13 consecutive years.
In district games last year, Tahlequah defeated Collinsville, 35-28, in an overtime thriller, blasted Pryor, 58-13, hammered Tulsa Memorial, 54-8, on Halloween, and suffered its lone regular season loss to Claremore, 21-14.
“Every two years you have football redistrict and so there’s a little change that occurs in the district that you’re in,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got some new teams with Glenpool, Sapulpa and Hale coming in. We played Glenpool in non-district there for a couple of years and we’re somewhat familiar with them, but they’ve got a new coach coming in. Sapulpa drops down from 6A to 5A, so we know that they’re going to be a good quality team who’s going to have really good athletes and present a challenge. You’ve always got the Collinsvilles, Claremores and Pryors that we continue to play over what seems like the last decade. Those are always exciting, fun games, and tough games. A new district always creates some excitement and gives you something to look forward to.”
Gilbert expects Collinsville to be the preseason district favorite. The Cardinals have the most experience returning from a team that went 8-3 a year ago.
“Collinsville will more than likely be the favorite,” he said. “It’s not a knock on any other team but I think they return the most, and year in and year out, it seems like they’re always up there atop the standings at either one or two. I wouldn’t expect anything different from them.”
The Tigers will hold their annual Orange/White Scrimmage on Aug. 15 at 6 p.m., and scrimmage against Grove on Aug. 21 at Doc Wadley Stadium. They will conclude their preseason schedule with a scrimmage at Hilldale on Aug. 27.
Home dates are against Tulsa McLain in the season opener on Sept. 4, Sallisaw (Sept. 18), Tulsa Hale (Oct. 2, homecoming), Claremore (Oct. 15) and Tulsa Memorial (Oct. 30).
Road dates are against Wagoner (Sept. 11), Pryor (Sept. 25), Sapulpa (Oct. 9), Glenpool (Oct. 23) and Collinsville (Nov. 6).