By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
Ending a decade-long drought with their first playoff appearance since 2002, the Hooker Bulldogs fell to the undefeated Minco Bulldogs 44-7 in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
"They are a very good team," said Hooker coach Jacob Kreamer. "They were successful getting some quick screens out to their wide receivers-we've struggled to defend that all year. Their quarterback was a good runner as well as a good passer, very hard to defend."
Minco was tough to defend through the air (18 of 22 for 256 yards) and on the ground (145 yards on 46 carries), racking up 24 first downs to only eight for Hooker.
Hooker's normally potent rushing attack was held to just 39 yards on 25 plays. The passing game was effective for some big plays (9 completions for 160 yards), but some of those big plays went the wrong way (3 interceptions).
Minco led just 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but jumped all over Hooker in the second to lead 27-0 at the break. Two more TDs in the third put the game completely out of reach at 41-0.
One scary moment came in the third quarter when Hooker's Brian McCann suffered a neck injury, and was air-lifted to Oklahoma City. McCann was able to move all extremities before the helicopter lifted off the field.
In the fourth, Hooker avoided the shutout when Brandon Goosen caught a three-yard pass from Chad Kennedy after starting quarterback, Joe Bean, had to leave the game in the third quarter with an injury.
But even after a lop-sided loss, it was tough for the Hooker Bulldogs (5-5) to feel too bad. Not after suffering through so many seasons where even one win was difficult to find.
"It was a big turnaround from the last few years," said Kreamer. "The guys worked hard, and they've seen what hard work and a good work ethic can get them. It was good to make a return to the playoffs. I hope it builds their confidence for next year. We've got some good players coming up and some good guys all ready in the system that will be some good leaders for us. We're real optimistic about the future."