No. 3 Sand Springs vs No. 2 Bixby: State Semi-finals tonight in Sapulpa

Photo: Morgan Miller

Photo: Morgan Miller

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The third-ranked Charles Page High School varsity football team (7-4) is making a semi-final playoff appearance for the third straight year Friday night at Sapulpa's George F. Collins Stadium. Morgan's Relax Packs is sponsoring tonight's game coverage.

This is the Sandites second-straight year playing in Sapulpa, their third-straight year of playing a post-season game against No. 2 Bixby (8-3), and their second semi-final meeting against the Spartans in the last three years. Thus far, the Sandites have never beaten the Spartans in the post-season, and the Spartans haven't lost a post-season game in three years. 

The Sandite-Spartan rivalry is a brutal one, with six meetings in three years and a 4-1 record in favor of Bixby. Though the Spartans hold an all-time record of 14-12-0 against Sand Springs, it's been the last three years that have mattered the most, with Bixby serving as a constant roadblock in the Sandites' path. 

In 2014 the Sandites gave Bixby their closest game of the season before falling 34-31 at Spartan Stadium in the regular-season finale. The Sandites rebounded with an overtime win at Midwest City to make their first semi-final appearance since 1997, but were plagued by injuries and handily defeated 41-14 in Broken Arrow. The Spartans went on to defeat Lawton for their first ever State Championship title. 

Last season the Sandites got vengeance with a 20-0 victory at home, dealing the Spartans their first shutout loss since 2008. The Minutemen went on to blow out Stillwater on the road, then topped No. 1 Booker T. Washington in Sapulpa before meeting the Spartans in their first State Championship game since 1966. The defending State Champs prevailed, however, dealing the Sandites a 38-28 loss at Union High School. 

This season the Spartans got the win at home, 35-19 over the No. 2 Sandites, to sabotage Sand Springs's district title. Had Sand Springs won, it would have been their first district title since 1997 and their first home playoff game since they hosted Westmoore in 2013. Sand Springs traveled to No. 4 Midwest City once again and prevailed 23-14 while Bixby trashed No. 7 Putnam City West 49-7.

Bixby had the home field advantage in the last game, and the two teams have a habit of splitting wins. Last year Bixby lost to both Sand Springs and Bartlesville in the regular season, then beat both in the playoffs, while the Sandites lost to Booker T. Washington in the regular season and won in the playoffs. The parity of the division means anything is possible, and Sand Springs already has a win over No. 1 Muskogee (9-1), who beat Bixby 45-42. 

Bixby boasts the top scoring offense in the State with 45 points per game, while the Sandites are fifth with 28 points per game. Sand Springs, however, has a habit of playing to their opponents' skill level. The Spartans have the number one run game and number two passing offense in the state, while the Sandites are only ninth in run coverage and eleventh in pass coverage. The two teams are tied for defensive scoring with both teams holding 28 total points this season. The Sandite offense is fifth in scoring, seventh in yards-per-play, and sixth in yards-per-rush. The Spartan defense is nearly identical to the Sandite defense in all areas but pass coverage, where they're significantly better. 

The winner of the match will progress to the State Championship against the winner of No. 1 Muskogee vs No. 5 Lawton (7-4). It's the 50th anniversary of the Sandites' lone State Championship season, so regardless of the victor, you can expect to see some wild game-play and Sandite magic. 

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