The seniors on the Tahlequah High School football team will take the field for the final time tonight against No.5 East Central.

“We’re going to try to play with relentless effort,” said Tigers coach Tuffy Thornton. “We’ve got some seniors that this is their last time to wear the orange helmet. The last game is always emotional.”

The Cardinals come into tonight’s contest riding a 7-game winning streak and with just one loss, a week 2 setback to Booker T. Washington.

“East Central’s always fast and they’re well-coached,” said Thornton. “Coach [Travis] Hill does a great job.”

East Central (8-1, 6-0 5A-4) is averaging 28 points per game. The offensive unit is led by senior running backs Jaimon Gilstrap and Chakeal Armstrong. Gilstrap has rushed for seven touchdowns, while Armstrong has reached the end zone five times.

“They are going to run the football,” said Thornton. “Their No.1 thing is to line up in the I-formation and double tight. They’re not real fancy in what they do, but they’re very effective.”

Senior Dillon Wallace will line up at quarterback for the Cardinals. He has passed for 772 yards, 10 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

“They don’t do a whole lot of things to beat themselves,” said Thornton. “They have had a bunch of big ballgames.”

The Tigers defense are allowing an average of 29 points a game. They allowed 38 last week in an 18-point loss to Ada.

Senior linebacker Matt Frits leads the unit and the state with 148 tackles.

On the other side of the ball, Tahlequah’s offense will be opposed by a Cardinals defense, led by linebacker LaRone Fitzgerald, has allowed just 13 points a game.

Tigers sophomore Zack Thornton hopes to erase last week’s three turnover game against Ada this week. Overall, he has passed for 614 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Sophomore Tanner Weston (19 catches for 201 yards) and senior Jackson Smith (15 catches for 224 yards) lead the receivers for Tahlequah.

Junior Taylor Harris leads the team in rushing yards with 389 and four touchdowns.

“We look at this game as a great opportunity,” said Thornton. “We get to play the No.5 team in the state. It’s a great opportunity for the seniors to win their last game. Plus, if we win the game, we have one going into the offseason.”

Kickoff time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Doc Wadley Stadium.

e’re not going over there to get beat,” said Thornton. “We’re going to fight them for four quarters.”


Recommended for you