Huskies heading to ‘OU’ in District 2A-7

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Actually, they are cousins, but Taylor Priest (No. 5) and Connor McNeil (No. 12) have been more like high-quality twins in their on-field performances this season for the Huskies. The PHS seniors have made major contributions as double-duty starters on offense and defense. Priest, a top returning defensive back, has scored touchdowns both as a running and receiving. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL-CAPITAL
Actually, they are cousins, but Taylor Priest (No. 5) and Connor McNeil (No. 12) have been more like high-quality twins in their on-field performances this season for the Huskies. The PHS seniors have made major contributions as double-duty starters on offense and defense. Priest, a top returning defensive back, has scored touchdowns both as a running and receiving. JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL-CAPITAL
Pawhuska sophomore Matthew Taft rushed 19 times for nearly a seven-yard average in Friday’s homecoming football victory over Chelsea. In his first start at tailback, Taft finished with 130 yards. He JACK BUZBEE/JOURNAL-CAPITAL

Pawhuska High School’s District Tour 2013 continues Friday night when the blossoming Huskies take their football show down Highway 10 for an important 2A-7 matchup with the Oklahoma Union Cougars — known regionally as OU.

While this may be Pawhuska’s first-ever gridiron visit at the rapidly-growing school district in suburban South Coffeyville, the Huskies actually played a previous road contest against the other OU — the University of Oklahoma. Believe it or not, a Pawhuska town team cross-bucked its way to a 0-0 tie with the mighty Sooners back in 1906.

If you’re still not impressed, consider that the OU team of ought-six finished with a 5-2-2 record with one of those defeats a 10-9 loss to Texas two weeks before the Nov. 16 slobberknocker with the Pawhuskans. This really is true. You can look it up on soonersports.com. And, almost certainly involved in the game was Sooner legend Bennie Owen, for whom the field at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is named. Owen coached the Sooners from 1905 to 1926.

Now, back to the 21st Century. PHS Coach Bob Craig expects Friday night’s OU opponent, the Cougars, to try and use its size to run the football forward.

“They kind of scare me,” said Craig. “They’re real big and will run right at you and that sometimes causes us problems.”

KICKOFF FOR FRIDAY’S GAME AT OKLAHOMA UNION WILL BE AT 7 P.M.

The head coach said the Huskies will continue looking for ways to get the ball into the hands of its top playmakers, which they have been doing consistently during a recent run in which they have won three of the last four contests. After starting the season with four straight losses, the Huskies have now all but locked up a post-season berth in their first campaign under head coach Craig.

It would be the fourth trip to the playoffs in five years for PHS. Likewise, Craig-coached teams in the past have been post-season perennials…and frequent district champions. The Huskies (3-5 overall and 3-1 in district action) are still alive in the 2A-7 title race and can continue that quest Friday with a road victory over the other OU — the Oklahoma Union Cougars (3-5, 1-3). Last year, during the Cougars’ first season in 2A, the Huskies topped them 46-14 in a blowout at The Beach.

For its regular-season finale the following Friday, Pawhuska will host the Adair Warriors (7-1, 5-0) — the No. 5-ranked team in Class 2A. And, here’s one more “Believe It or Not.” Pawhuska currently holds second place in the District 2A-7 points standings. With 193 points (based on margins of victory, etc.) the Huskies trail Adair (362 points) but have an edge over the Nowata Ironmen (7-1, 3-1 with 193 points), the only team in the district to beat them.

Oklahoma Union has compiled 136 points. The Chelsea Dragons are 2-6 and 1-3, and the Caney Valley Trojans (1-7, 1-3) earned their first victory of the season last week to jump over the vanquished Chouteau-Mazie Wildcats (3-5, 1-4).

Huskies 26, Chelsea 6

A three-touchdown eruption in the third quarter put the Pawhuska Huskies on a sure course to Friday’s 26-6 district football triumph over the Chelsea Green Dragons at Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium.

Strong defense and a resurrected rushing attack spurred the Huskies to their third win in four weeks on PHS Homecoming.

When a previously potent passing game was slow to fire, Pawhuska just moved its offense to the ground — but, at the start of the second half, the path was paved to the key district victory by a touchdown pass. Seniors Bryce Wilson, Zalin Edwards and Connor McNeil led the way for PHS, receiving a boost from sophomore Matthew Taft en route to the homecoming success. Taft, a rapidly emerging sophomore tailback, carried much of the load after halftime when the Huskies expanded a one-touchdown lead into a 26-point advantage.

A minute and 49 seconds into the third quarter, wide receiver McNeil crossed over the middle to grab a 25-yard TD pass from quarterback Edwards that put the Huskies up by 13. Edwards had provided the Huskies with their intial score with a short scramble five minutes into the contest. His three-yard run capped a three-play drive after Pawhuska took possession at the Chelsea six-yard line following a high snap over the Dragons’ punter. Freshman Caleb Bruce kicked the point-after for a 7-0 lead.

Pawhuska completed only one pass in the opening two quarters. Top receiver Wilson was moved to the backfield, where he leaped and bulldozed his way to steady gains — finishing with nine runs for 52 yards and a TD. During a nearly six-minute drive that stalled shortly before halftime, Wilson and Edwards carried a half dozen times apiece on a 14-play drive that twice reached the Chelsea one-yard line. Back-to-back holding penalties prevented a score, however and the Huskies went to the locker room with a scant seven-point advantage.

PHS took the second-half kickoff on marched straight down the field, with McNeil snagging the aerial that capped a four-play TD drive. On the first play of Chelsea’s next series, Wilson intercepted a pass and returned it to the Dragons’ 29. Six plays later, Wilson scored from six yards out and the Bruce PAT advanced the Huskie cause to 20-0.

The Pawhuska defense then forced a quick Chelsea punt and the home team launched a 12-play series that concluded with another short Edwards’ TD run with 46 second remaining in the Huskie-dominated third stanza. Late in the game, Wilson pulled in his second interception for Pawhuska. He also finished the evening with a team-high 11 tackles.

In addition to being PHS’s top season rusher, Edwards entered the night averaging 165 passing yards per game — with more than 1,100 yards for the year. Edwards’ normal 60 percent accuracy took a nose dive against the Dragons and he finished four-for-13 for 77 yards.

A freshman, Laramie Davison, earned star-of-the night honors for the visitors by intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble. As the third Chelsea QB, he finished with 40 rushing yards in 10 carries — second best for his team behind senior Logan Rudd, who picked up 42 yards in 12 carries. Davison’s interception, with a little over two minutes remaining, allowed the Dragons to avoid being shut out. The Huskie turnover came two plays after Chelsea’s longest drive of the night was halted on downs at the PHS 10.

Pawhuska’s defense limited Chelsea to one first down in each of the first two quarters and kept the Dragons from moving the chains at all in the third. The visitors managed to complete only two passes out of six attempts for 12 yards. Sensational sophomore Hayden Henley continued to shine, notching a pair of tackles for losses and recovering a fumble thar kept a Huskie TD drive alive.

Marshall Tolson donned his third jersey number this year but still played the same, which is A-OK. He helped set up the first Huskie score by doggedly pursuing the Chelsea punter near the goal line. After eluding the angular PHS junior once, the Dragon ball-carrier made the mistake of wandering into Tolson’s territory again.

Coming into the contest, Chelsea had the same overall record as Pawhuska (2-5) and a win would have moved the Dragons past their hosts and into the district’s third-place position.

HUSKIES 26,

DRAGONS 6

Chelsea 0 0 0 6 — 6

Pawhuska 7 0 19 0 — 26

First quarter

P — Zalin Edwards 3-yard run (Caleb Bruce kick) 7:11

Third quarter

P — Connor McNeil 25-yard pass from Zalin Edwards (kick failed) 10:19

P — Bryce Wilson 6-yard run (Bruce kick) 7:30

P — Edwards 3-yard run (kick blocked) :46

Fourth quarter

C — Seth Bradley 1-yard run (run failed) 5:13

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs: PHS 17, Chelsea 9

Rushes-yds: PHS 43-190, Chelsea 36-88

Fumbles lost: PHS 1, Chelsea 0

Passing yards: PHS 77, Chelsea 12

Passes comp-att-int: PHS 4-13-1, Chelsea 2-6-2

Return yards: PHS 64, Chelsea 33

Punts-avg: PHS 2-36, Chelsea 4-32

Penalties-yds: PHS 9-80, Chelsea 4-35

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Pawhuska (3-5, 3-1)

Rushing — Matthew Taft 19 carries-130 yards, Zalin Edwards 12-13-2 TDs, Bryce Wilson 9-52-1 TD, Taylor Priest 1-3, Hayden Javellas 1-minus 5, Colton Hindman 1-0.

Passing — Zalin Edwards 4 completions-13 attempts-77 yards-1 TD-1 intercepted.

Receiving — Connor McNeil 3 catches-58 yards-1 TD, Taylor Priest 1-19.

Chelsea (2-6, 1-3)

Rushing — Logan Rudd 12 carries-42 yards, Dalton Bunch 3-8, Zach Eidschun 8-minus 5, Laramie Davison 10-40, Seth Bradley 1-1-1 TD, Dalton Feathers 2-2.

Passing — Zach Eidschun 0 completions-2 attempts-1 intercepted, Dalton Feathers 2-3-12 yards, Laramie Davison 0-1-1 intercepted.

Receiving — Gavin Hunt 1 catch-5 yards, Casey Booth 1-7.

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