No. 1 CPHS Wrestling leads State Championship after first round with 8 semifinalists

Top-ranked 220 pound senior Delvin Jordan pinned his first-round opponent at the OSSAA State Championship. (Photo: Scott Emigh)

Top-ranked 220 pound senior Delvin Jordan pinned his first-round opponent at the OSSAA State Championship. (Photo: Scott Emigh)

6A Top-Ten Team Scores:

  1. No. 1 Sand Springs (25)
  2. No. 2 Choctaw (21.5)
  3. No. 3 Broken Arrow (21)
  4. No. 13 Norman North (11)
  5. Midwest City (10)
    No. 8 Stillwater (10)
  6. No. 4 Edmond North (9)
  7. No. 6 Ponca City (8)
    No. 5 Yukon (8)
  8. No. 11 Edmond Memorial (6)
    Owasso (6)

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

The No. 1 ranked Charles Page High School wrestling team got off to a solid start at the OSSAA 6A State Championship Friday afternoon at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. Eight of the eleven State Qualifiers won their first round matches, and the Sandites had the top team score by a narrow margin over the defending State Champions from No. 2 Choctaw. 

It's a three-way race for the top with Choctaw and No. 3 Broken Arrow right behind the Sandites. The Yellowjackets and Tigers each have six wrestlers remaining in the championship bracket.

106-pound sophomore Riley Weir (39-6 season, 60-18 career) met Edmond North freshman Nate Becker (22-13) in his quarterfinal. Weir took a 5-1 lead into the second period and started on bottom, then quickly reversed in the first twenty seconds. He did it again to start the third period and held on for a 9-1 major decision. He will face Choctaw freshman Gabe Johnson (34-6) in the semifinals.

113 senior Tanner Ward (33-10, 109-22) took on Mustang sophomore Cameron Picklo (29-8) and recorded a takedown in the first twenty seconds, then cut his foe loose soon after. He snagged another score midway through the first period, added a pair of back points, cut his opponent loose, then took him down again to end the first period 8-3. Picklo started the second period on top and Ward easily got the escape, then added a takedown soon after. Picklo got a reversal and nearly put the Sandite in danger, but Ward managed to stay off his back and recovered for a reversal and 14-5 third period lead. The final stretch started neutral and Ward picked up a couple more takedowns for a 16-5 major decision. He will face Westmoore senior Canon Randall (36-4) in the semifinals.

120 senior Michael Ritchey (36-10, 65-34) and Choctaw junior Andy Schlaepfer (27-16) hit the mat early and struggled for control, ending up in a stalemate before the Sandite finally came out on top with seven seconds left. They started the second period neutral and it went the same as the first, hotly contested with one stalemate, and one Sandite takedown, once again in the final ten seconds. Ritchey started the final period on bottom and escaped thirty seconds in, then took control with a minute left and held on for the 7-0 decision. He will face Edmond North senior Paxton Rosen (36-2) in the semifinals.

126 junior Blake Sargent (37-10, 89-24) battled Choctaw junior Connor Holman (35-6) and gave up a takedown late in the first period. He started the second period on top and cut his opponent loose early on, then Holman added another pair of points towards the end and took a 5-0 lead into the final stretch. Sargent started the third period on the defensive end and escaped in the first few seconds, but was unable to score. Holman added another takedown, Sargent cut loose, and the Yellowjacket won by 7-2 decision. He will face Ponca City sophomore Spencer Schickram (37-9) in the consolationquarterfinal.

132 Oklahoma State University-signed senior Daton Fix (45-0, 163-0) easily handled Midwest City senior Marquez Edwards (24-8), scoring a takedown for nearfall points in the first thirty seconds. He cut his foe loose, scored, cut him loose again, scored again, and continued to run up the score to 11-3 at the end of the first period. He started the second with a reversal and secured the pin in 2:43. He will face Ponca City junior Dylan Schickram (38-12) in the semis.

138 senior Jack Karstetter (30-1, 103-16) had a scrappy competitor in Edmond Memorial junior Connor Simpson (21-8). The Sandite handily prevailed, however, taking a 7-0 lead into the second period with two sets of back points. He started on bottom and immediately escaped five seconds in, then added a second takedown for a 10-1 third period advantage. He reversed to start the final stretch and cut Simpson loose to look for bonus points, but the two remained neutral and Karstetter got the 12-2 major decision. He will face Ponca City senior Dawson Hunt (29-14) in the semifinals.

145 senior Beau Bratcher (43-7, 134-30) battled Westmoore sophomore Zach Johnson (25-7) and scored his first takedown at the minute mark. He started the second period on defense and scored an early escape and held on for a 3-0 lead in the third. Johnson selected defense, and remained there for the duration, giving Bratcher a 3-0 decision. He will face Yukon senior and defending State Champion Jaxen Gilmore (27-2) in the semifinals.

152 junior Payton Scott (37-3, 58-11) took on Choctaw junior Jeff Speer (16-8) and scored a takedown in the first thirty seconds, and cut his foe loose immediately. He added two more by the end of the first and entered the second stretch 6-2. He started with an immediate escape, then took Speer down for a fall at 2:19. He will take on Midwest City senior Rober Walker (28-6) in the semifinals.

160 sophomore Noah Almy (24-18) took on Choctaw junior and defending State Champion Jaryn Curry (35-3) and gave up an early takedown, but escaped soon after. Curry added another score and cut the Sandite loose, then repeated for a 6-3 lead. Almy started the second period on top, but Curry broke free and scored another trio of takedowns in the first minute and entered the third period with a 15-6 lead. They started neutral and Curry scored a takedown and a pair of back points before securing the 22-7 tech fall in 4:58 after a stalling penalty on Almy. The Sandite will return to action against Edmond Santa Fe junior Williams Depona (16-13) in the consolation quarterfinals.

170 senior Zane Basma (26-4, 88-29) gave up an early takedown to Edmond Memorial junior Sam Hensley (36-7), but quickly escaped and scored his own takedown for a trio of nearfall points. The Sandite started the second period neutral with a 6-2 lead, but gave up another takedown at the end of the period. Basma started the final stanza on bottom and quickly escaped, but Hensley scored a last second takedown for back points for the 9-7 decision. Basma will take on Ponca City junior Lane Newlin (31-14) in the consolation quarterfinal.

220 senior Delvin Jordan (43-2, 74-14) took on Westmoore senior Jonathan Martinez (15-8) and the two were evenly matched through the first. Jordan took a 1-0 lead with a second period escape then added a takedown soon after. Slow and steady won the race and Jordan worked his foe into a cradle at 3:42. He will take on Choctaw junior Caulin Poole (25-10) in the semifinals.

The first round of consolations will begin at 5:00 p.m., followed by the semifinals at 7:15 p.m.

Week Five 6A-II rankings and predictions; a look at this weekend's games

Photo: Morgan Miller

Photo: Morgan Miller

By: Sandite Pride Editorial Board

No. 1 Bixby Spartans (Last week No. 1) vs No. 3 Muskogee Roughers (3)

It's the marquee match-up for week six of High School football as two of the top teams in the State ride dominating performances into a district game of playoff-level intensity. 

The Spartans (2-2, 0-0) have yet to begin district play and just wrapped up the toughest pre-conference schedule of Class 6A-II. In week two they gave 6A-I No. 1 Jenks (5-0) their closest game of the year, losing 38-34. The next week they lost 44-34 to Arkansas 7A State Runners-Up Bentonville (3-1) and finally got in the win column with a dominating 56-20 performance over Putnam City (3-1, 1-0). This week they really proved just how powerful they are as they steamrolled 6A-I No. 4 Westmoore (3-1) 70-28 in an incredible performance that featured two 90+ yard kickoff returns for touchdown. Tanner Griffin's passing was off for the evening, completing only 9 of 22 for 96 yards and 1 touchdown against 2 interceptions. But the run game was dominant as Tucker Pawley carried 19 times for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns. Griffin had two touchdown runs and 46 yards on 5 carries, while Braden Roller added another touchdown and 66 yards on 5 carries.

The Roughers (4-0, 1-0) have had a fairly weak schedule thus far, with the exception of a close 16-12 win over Midwest City (2-2, 1-0), but when they go up against lesser competition, it's a blow-out. They've won their last three games by an average score of 59-11, and they notched their first district win Friday with a 63-6 shutdown of Bartlesville (1-3, 0-1). Running back Molijah Gilbert finished with 16 carries for 184 yards and two touchdowns. QB Jacob Medrano completed 11 of 20 passes for 197 yards and no interceptions.

The pick: Bixby 38 Muskogee 28

No. 2 Booker T Washington Hornets (2) vs No. 15 Sapulpa Chieftains (14)

The Hornets (3-2, 1-0) had an easy start to district play with the Ponca City Wildcats (1-3, 0-1) and rolled to a dominating 47-0 shutout victory. In the past two seasons, the Hornet offense regularly routed their opponents by massive margins, but this year it still remains to be seen just how powerful they'll be against quality opponents. They barely got the 21-14 edge on Midwest City (2-2, 1-0) and lost 26-23 to Edmond Santa Fe (4-1, 1-0). After going down 49-7 to the Nationally ranked No. 2 IMG Academy (5-0) they've since been unstoppable with a 43-6 win over Shawnee and the victory against Ponca. They won't get their first real test till they take on Muskogee next week, but first they have to get past Sapulpa. Rylan McQuarters led the run game against Ponca with 8 carries for 82 yards, followed by Tyler Holmes with 15 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown. Two other running backs scored touchdowns in the rout, and double-threat QB Phillip Wheatley was 15 of 22 in the air for 214 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions.

Sapulpa (0-4, 0-1) still looks to get in the win column this season after dropping their rivalry game to Sand Springs 35-7. The Chieftains failed to make headway through the air as QB Cameron Elder was only 8 of 13 for 53 yards with no touchdowns and an interception, but the ground game was alive and well. Elder carried 12 times for 59 yards and a touchdown. Dayton Vann also had 59 yards from 11 carries, and Marcus Henderson carried 8 times for 67 yards. 

The pick: Booker T 56 Sapulpa 3

No. 4 Midwest City Bombers (4) vs No. 9 Deer Creek Antlers (12)

The Midwest City Bombers (2-2, 1-0) have won or lost every game this season by a touchdown or less and notched their first district win of the season 20-17 over Lawton (1-3, 0-1) Friday night at home. QB Preston Colbert was 8 of 12 for 139 yards and a touchdown. Astin Anderson was the workhorse for the Bombers and carried 38 times for 133 yards. Earlier this season they fell 16-12 to Muskogee (4-0) and 21-14 to Booker T Washington (3-2), two of the top three teams in the division. They got in the win column two weeks ago with a 28-21 victory over 5A Del City (2-2).

The Antlers (1-3, 1-0) got their first win of the season with a 21-14 upset over Stillwater (2-2, 0-1) Friday night at a game in which they were the 18-point underdogs. QB Hunter Freese passed for 190 yards and the bulk of the Antler offense. The run game only accounted for 87 yards. Deer Creek may only have one win, but their losses were to quality 6A-I programs. 52-13 to Southmoore (3-1), 47-31 to Edmond Santa Fe (4-1), and 48-31 to Edmond Memorial (3-2).

The pick: Midwest City 23 Deer Creek 14

No. 6 Putnam City Pirates (7) vs No. 7 Lawton Wolverines (5)

While Bixby at Muskogee is the biggest game of District 2, Lawton vs. Putnam City is equally huge for District 1. The Wolverines (1-3, 0-1) and Pirates (3-1, 1-0) both have a lot to prove going into week two of districts. While Lawton was edged out 20-17 by Midwest City (2-2, 1-0), the Pirates got the 36-32 edge on Choctaw (2-2, 0-1). Putnam's only loss this season was 56-20 to Bixby (2-2), while Lawton's only win this season was 62-37 over in-town rival Lawton Eisenhower (1-3).

Lawton demonstrated a powerful aerial assault against Midwest City as QB Zach Hannah completed 11 of 18 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. The running game was almost nonexistent, however, as Tre Curry carried 19 times for a mere 60 yards and one touchdown. Curry has proven his abilities in the past with a 201 yard performance against Eisenhower and a 311 yard performance in a 56-41 loss to 5A Carl Albert (4-0). The Wolverines are clearly a double threat team, meaning the Putnam defense will need to be sharp on their toes to keep the scoring in check. Lawton's offense averages 415 yards and 5 touchdowns per game this season. Putnam's defense is stout, however, and averages 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 interceptions per game this season. 

The Putnam offense has ran up the yards this season, led by QB AJ Newsome in the air and RB Damon Jemison on the ground. Newsome is only 32 of 82 this season with 6 interceptions, exacerbated by a 6 of 24 performance against the killer Bixby defense which picked off four passes. But he holds 871 yards and 9 touchdowns to pad his resume. Jemison has rushed 78 times this year for only 259 yards. The Lawton defense isn't as tight on the run game as Putnam, but if the Pirates rely on the pass as they have for most of the season, they might find trouble in a team that averages 2 interceptions per game. 

The pick: Putnam City 28 Lawton 26

No. 5 Sand Springs Sandites (6) vs Yukon Millers

The Sandites (2-2, 1-0) won their first district game with a 35-7 rout of Highway 97 rival Sapulpa (0-4, 0-1), and will play their final non-district game this weekend against 6A-I Yukon (0-4). Sand Springs started off with a big 56-21 loss to Arkansas powerhouse Pulaski Academy (3-1) and were upset in week two 45-41 by Choctaw (2-2, 0-1), but got in the win column with a close 29-24 victory against Putnam West (3-1, 1-0). RB Payton Scott accounts for the majority of the Sandite offense with 183 carries for 687 yards and 7 touchdowns, while QB Hunter Greathouse is 42 of 90 for 601 yards and 4 touchdowns by air and 4 touchdowns on the ground. 

Yukon has yet to even come close to a win this season, falling 42-20 to Mustang (3-1), 55-7 to Norman North (4-0), 38-7 to Southmoore (38-7), and 33-9 to Broken Arrow (2-2). The Millers held a tough schedule with nothing but ranked 6A-I powerhouses and that experience could give them an edge on the Sandites who have played only one powerhouse team this year. 

The pick: Sand Springs 38 Yukon 13.

No. 8 Putnam City West Patriots (8) vs No. 11 Stillwater Pioneers (10)

The Patriots (3-1, 1-0) haven't had a winning season since 2000 and they're looking to change that in 2016. After beating Duncan (2-2) 43-14 and Putnam North (1-3) 16-5, the Patriots experienced their first loss of the season 29-24 at the Sandites' (2-2) home-opener. They didn't let that hiccup slow them down, and rebounded with a dominating 35-10 district victory over Enid (1-3, 0-1). 

Stillwater (2-2, 0-1) started with one seriously tough pre-district schedule and secured a pair of high quality wins against ranked 6A-I opponents, before giving up a big upset this week. They won their season opener against Edmond Memorial (3-2) 24-7, then lost 16-7 to Moore (2-2) before netting another big win over Mustang (3-1) at 36-24. The Pioneers clearly have what it takes to win big games against big opponents, but after falling 21-14 to Deer Creek at home, they're going to need to buckle down and secure some district wins if they want a shot at their first State Championship since 1967. The Pioneers are led on the ground by Josiah Castleberry who has already ran over 600 yards thus far this season. 

The pick: Putnam West 33 Stillwater 29

No. 10 Choctaw Yellowjackets (9) vs No. 12 Enid Plainsmen (13)

Choctaw (2-2, 0-1) is still struggling to find its place in the rankings, starting strong with 52-42 and 45-41 wins over Sapulpa (0-4) and Sand Springs (2-2), respectively, but falling 17-14 to Putnam City North (1-3) and 36-32 to Putnam City (3-1, 1-0). The Yellowjackets are true to their name when it comes to offense, hammering their opponents from the air, but just can't seem to get their defense rolling. QB Dylan Weaver is 64 of 107 for 864 yards this season.

Enid (1-3, 0-1) was edged out 22-19 in the season opener by Guthrie (2-2) and got in the win column in week two with a 42-31 victory over Ponca City (1-3, 0-1), but hasn't come close since. They were dominated in week three 44-14 by Bishop McGuinness (3-1) and shut down 25-10 last week by Putnam West (3-1, 1-0). 

The pick: Choctaw 40 Enid 10

No. 13 Bartlesville Bruins (11) vs No. 14 Ponca City Wildcats (15)

Bartlesville (1-3, 0-1) and Ponca (1-3, 0-1) are both in precarious spots this season with a single win apiece and one of the two destined to be 0-2 in district play after this Friday's meet. The Bruins' lone win was a close 27-24 over McAlester (2-2) while Ponca blanked Guthrie (2-2) 9-0. 

The Bruins were utterly dominated 63-6 at the hands of Muskogee (4-0) last week, while the Wildcats were shut out 47-0 by Booker T Washington (3-2). Bartlesville has shuffled through three quarterbacks this year after starter Garrett Meidl was out with a knee injury and Will Walton and AJ Archambo both tried out the position. Meidl returned to action against Muskogee but was held to a mere 10 completions on 24 attempts for 59 yards. Ponca QB Brice McDougal has a solid record this season with 58 completions on 104 passes for 729 yards and only 3 interceptions. 

The pick: Bartlesville 21 Ponca 14

6A-II District One Standings

Putnam City West (1-0)
Deer Creek (1-0)
Putnam City (1-0)
Midwest City (1-0)

Lawton (0-1)
Choctaw (0-1)
Stillwater (0-1)
Enid (0-1)

6A-II District Two Standings

Muskogee (1-0)
Booker T (1-0)
Sand Springs (1-0)
Bixby (0-0)

Bartlesville (0-1)
Ponca City (0-1)
Sapulpa (0-1)

Editorial: How the 6A split saved 6A football

By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief

Oklahoma high school football experienced a dramatic and controversial change in the fall of 2013 when the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) announced a split in Class 6A. The 16 highest-enrollment schools would be separated from the lower 16 and each division would play for their own State Title.

The reason for the decision was simple. Population. The current enrollment of Broken Arrow High School is 4,872. The enrollment of Booker T Washington? 1,317. The difference between the top of 6A and the bottom of 6A is greater than the top of 5A and the smallest schools in the State. Schools like BA, Union, Jenks, and Owasso have four times the talent pool to draw from. While the majority of the Hornet starters play both sides of the ball and never get a break, the Redskins have a roster larger than some colleges and have backups for their backups.

Class 6A was created in 1992 and the inaugural Championship was won by Norman. Jenks won it in ’93, Midwest City went back-to-back from ’94-95, and nobody but Jenks or Union has won it since. More often than not, the State Championship game has simply been a rematch between the Backyard Bowl rivals. Since the inception of 6A, Jenks leads the series with 14 titles to Union’s 7, and only 2 other teams have ever won.

Clearly population isn’t the only deciding factor, otherwise Broken Arrow would have won it every year. But there’s no denying the significance it plays. 6A teams were judged by their ability to turn a winning record, not by their ability to win State Titles. That was irrelevant. Nobody won State Titles but Jenks and Union.

In the 22 seasons that Sand Springs played the 6A division, they earned a total record of 98-131 and only managed 7 winning seasons with 7 playoff appearances. In five of those years they were eliminated by top-four-enrollment schools. The other years it was by top-ten schools. Since the 6A split, the Sandites have gone 15-11, made the playoffs both years, and actually won playoff games for the first time since 1997. In 2015, the Sandites made their first State Final appearance since 1966.

While the problems with the 6A split were clear—increased travel, “easier” brackets—the solution has proved to be a game-changer for the 16 schools who now feel like they actually have a legitimate chance. The culture around Sand Springs football has changed, and it’s not an isolated event.

The Class 6A-II conversation begins with two-time reigning State Champions, the Bixby Spartans. Bixby was an annual contender in Class 5A without fail. They weren’t part of the inaugural class of 6A. They didn’t move over until 2010. Prior to that, they had six-straight winning seasons with ten-straight playoff appearances. In their first year of 6A they finished the regular season 5-5, their worst record since 2003, and were eliminated in round one by Jenks. For the next two years they posted losing records and didn’t make the playoffs again till the 6A split. In a single year, the 6A powerhouses had killed the football culture at Bixby. They were lucky that they only had to live through it for four years before the split. In 2014, the Spartans were once again playing teams at their size, and they went 12-1 for their first ever State Title. Their only loss? A season-opening non-conference game against Jenks. Jenks won that one 66-20. The Spartans defended their title in 2015 and are currently ranked number one in 2016. After two straight winning seasons and State Titles, the Spartans challenged Jenks in their season opener and nearly won it, 38-34.

Booker T Washington has always had a culture of winning, with eight State Championships including two recently in 2008 and 2010 at the 5A level. The Hornets only had to play two seasons of 6A football, both ending in first round devastating playoff defeats at the hands of the Big Four. As soon as 6A split, they were back in it with a 7-game winning streak and a 10-2 season in 2014. Last year they went undefeated in the regular season and earned the number one rank before Sand Springs defeated them in the semi-finals. This year the Hornets are laying the foundation to take their program to the next level with College Hall of Fame member Brad Calip taking over as Head Coach and former University of Tulsa Head Coach Bill Blankenship volunteering with the quarterbacks and offensive coaching. The Hornets have stepped up their pre-conference scheduling with 6A No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe and Florida-based private school IMG Academy which is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation with an entire roster of division-I commits.

Bartlesville was part of the first class of 6A, and went 0-10 in the first two years. They didn’t post a winning record till 2002, when they were doubled down on by Union 54-27 in the first round of the playoffs. Their next winning record wouldn’t come till 2008, and that was only due to a forfeiture by Jenks due to OSSAA sanctions. In 2009 they gave it a real run and even defeated Owasso, but still couldn’t fend off Jenks, BA, and Southmoore. In 2010 they had another winning record at 7-4. Their losses were to the Big Four. Since the 6A split they’ve made the playoffs both years and finished last season with only two losses. They held the No. 1 rank briefly after defeating Bixby, before falling to BTW two weeks later.

The success stories continue from there. The evidence is undeniable, the 6A split has saved 6A football. While critics of the sixteen-team bracket call it a JV division, the reality is that the top teams in 6A-II never could compete with the Big Four when they were in 6A, but now they could. Bixby nearly defeated 6A No. 1 Jenks in a pre-conference battle. BTW almost defeated 6A No. 5 Edmond Santa Fe. Sand Springs has begun scheduling real opponents like Arkansas State Champion Pulaski Academy, instead of their past habit of lighting up Nathan Hale, who has lost 37-straight games. Muskogee has brought in 5A State Championship coach Rafe Watkins from Guthrie and is now a real contender for the first time in years. Putnam City West is confidently rebuilding their program after a decade of losing seasons. Sapulpa brought on former Sand Springs Defensive Coordinator Robert Borgstadt as head coach to rebuild their ailing program.

Success breeds success. Is the 16-team bracket the best way to go? Who knows? Maybe one day there will be a full 32 schools the size of BA and we can re-institute the 32-team standard. Maybe we should split all the other classes into 16-team divisions as well. Or maybe we should call Bixby and Jenks Division Champions instead of State Champions and have them play each other for the true 6A State Championship. There’s many things we could try; some could work, and some won’t. But the fact is, 6A football is more competitive than it has ever been, and almost every school in the Class is now vying to be the next big deal. The Big Four monopoly hasn’t been broken, but at least 16 teams now feel like they have a real shot.