By SHAWN YORKS
• Daily Leader
The Beaver Dusters are having the kind of season fans have grown accustomed to, but has been rare the last couple years — a winning one. Beaver was 5-5 a year ago and suffered through back-to-back 2-8 seasons in 2007 and 2008.
But this year the Dusters are unbeaten in seven games. Beaver hasn’t been this successful since the 2006 campaign that saw it go 11-2, falling to eventual state runner-up Velma-Alma in the second round of the playoffs.
And Thursday night in Thomas, the Dusters will take on a Terriers squad in what many are billing as the district championship.
“Well, there’s still two more district games after this,” said Beaver head coach Mike McVay. “We’re looking at it like you have to win it to win district.”
Both teams are ranked in the Top 10 in the Associated Press media poll — Beaver No. 6 and Thomas No. 10. Beaver is ranked No. 2 on the OKRankings.com coaches poll.
The two last played in 2007 when the Terriers were members of District A-1. Thomas won that game 21-20. This is the first winning season for the Terriers (6-1) since 2005.
The teams share a long history, in recent years as district opponents, but as a playoff foe back in the day.
“We used to meet them on a regular basis in the playoffs,” McVay said. “The history of this dates back to the ’50s and ’60s when Beaver and Thomas were both at the top of the class in the state of Oklahoma. They always used to meet in the quarterfinals or semifinals and the winner usually went on to state.”
The Dusters have been a run-oriented team, simply because their offensive line is so big, their running backs have had no trouble finding room to roam. But they’re certainly capable of throwing the football.
“We’ve got a good front line, and with that we’ve been able to run the ball well well without having to do a whole lot of passing,” McVay said. “Although we’re capable. We’ve got a quarterback who has done some damage both with his arm, but mainly his legs.”
The Dusters average 269 yards rushing per game. Quarterback Samuel Becker and running back Ben Engelman have each rushed for 456 yards this season and Allan Butterfield has added another 313 yards.
Twelve different players have carried the ball this season for Beaver.
Fans making the 300-mile round trip will see the Terriers spread the field. They’ll run the option, some counter and try to throw it. Defensively, the Terriers run a 3-3.
“They’re a wide-open spread offense,” McVay said. “They’ve got as good of athletes as we’ve seen. Their quarterback’s a good operator, they’ve got a good running back.”
Thomas matches Beaver in size on the lines, and features a couple big receivers.
“And when I say big, I’m talking a couple receivers that are 6-foot-4, 6-5, 120, 130 pounds,” McVay said. “They’ve just got the full package offensively.”
Tyrone (5-2) @ Shattuck (6-1)
The Tyrone Bobcats enter tomorrow’s District C-1 road game against Shattuck at a disadvantage. Two players have been lost to injuries, and two more will have to sit the game out for other reasons. That makes life a little more difficult for head coach Josh Bell, as if facing Shattuck wasn’t hard enough.
“They’re a powerhouse,” Bell said. “They don’t do a whole lot, but what they do, they do very, very well.”
Shattuck is ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 7 in the OKRankings.com coaches poll. Tyrone is No. 17 on OK Rankings.
Tyrone is coming off a 60-28 win over Buffalo. So, does Bell worry about a letdown — at the worst possible time against one of the top 8-man teams in Oklahoma?
“I do,” Bell said. “Shattuck has such a mystique to them and a lot of teams, before they get there, they’re beat, just because of what they’ve done in the past.
“We tell the kids they need to live in the present, go out there and play for now and don’t worry about what happened in the past.”
At 5-2 overall, Tyrone is off to its best start since the state championship teams of the 1960s. Does Bell sense a difference in the players’ attitude this year compared to last?
“Everybody feels like there’s more to play for,” Bell said. “In the past it was tough each week at practice when you’re 1-8. But when you’re 5-2 and you’re going to play a very good 6-1 team, you’re saying ‘Hey, Maybe something can happen.’”
Goodwell (0-7) @ Forgan (6-1)
Forgan head coach Doug Bowles was worried his team might have a letdown after big wins over Shattuck, Waynoka and Sharon-Mutual in recent weeks. He got it last Friday against Deer Creek-Lamont.
The good news is that DCLA is not a district opponent, so the Bulldogs are still in the driver’s seat for the District C-1 championship. Especially since their last three opponents — Goodwell, Boise City and Balko — are a combined 2-19.
Forgan is ranked No. 5 in the AP media poll and No. 4 in the OK Rankings coaches poll.
Goodwell — which co-ops with Yarbrough — a rural school 8 miles south of Elkhart, already has low numbers (12 on the football team) and has suffered injuries. The Eagles have been out-scored 354-44, which includes an opening night loss to the Texhoma junior varsity that Goodwell hasn’t been counting on its overall record.
Okla. Bible (5-2) @ Turpin (5-2)
Turpin looked good for the first half last week at Texhoma, building a 21-0 lead on the Red Devils before the Cardinal offense went to sleep. Texhoma stormed back to tie it and force overtime before the Cardinal defense got a big fumble recovery in overtime and Turpin went on to win 27-21.
The win was big for the Cardinals as it set them at 3-1 in District A-1 with three games left. There’s a lot of talk about playoffs in Turpin — since it beat the team that knocked it out of playoff contention the last two years — but it isn’t a done deal.
Enid’s Oklahoma Bible Academy was once ranked No. 2 in the state, but after losses to Beaver and Thomas, finds itself at 2-2 and fighting for its playoff life.
And add to that upcoming games at Mooreland and the season-finale against Beaver, and the playoffs are not a given for the Cards.