NOTHING BUT GREEN: Round 4 high school football playoff picks

·5 min read

Dec. 3—Last week's record: 3-1 (75%)

Overall record: 125-18 (87.4%)

Well, the time has finally come. This is the final week of high school football in the Rogers County area.

It is hard to believe we're entering the 15th week of hard-hitting action, and it is even harder to comprehend that it is already coming to an end. Football season is never quite long enough, and it seems to go by quicker and quicker each year.

Nevertheless, this is it. My last picks column of 2021.

Two area teams remain, and they are both fighting for a coveted Gold Ball. Those squads are Collinsville and Lincoln Christian.

The Cardinals are coming off perhaps their biggest win in school history, handing five-time defending Class 5A champion Carl Albert its first ever loss in a semifinal. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are making a third-consecutive appearance in the Class 3A title game.

Lincoln Christian plays first at 1 p.m. Friday at UCO's Chad Richison Stadium in Edmond, so we'll start there.

The Bulldogs are undefeated at 12-0 and hold a 38-1 record the past three seasons. Who handed them that one loss? Holland Hall, their opponent in Friday's championship game.

The Dutch dethroned Lincoln Christian as champions last year in a 35-7 decision, and the Bulldogs are certainly hoping to be more competitive this time around. With Max Brown at quarterback, that is almost a certainty.

Brown has thrown for 2,663 yards and 41 touchdowns this season while completing 73.6% of his passes. He is also the team's leading rusher with 1,169 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 8 yards per carry.

That means he is averaging about 294.8 yards and nearly five touchdowns per game on his own.

Of course, Holland Hall is no slouch.

The Dutch avenged their only loss of the season with a 35-6 win over Verdigris in the semifinals. Ethan Roush, who took over at quarterback late in the first meeting against the Cardinals, accounted for 297 yards and four touchdowns last week.

Alongside Roush in the backfield will be Zane Woodham, who has an astonishing 1,700 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns this season on 188 carries (9 yards per carry). He also averaged nearly 12 tackles per game from the linebacker position.

Verdigris held him to 58 yards on 14 carries in the semis and 63 yards on 19 carries in October, so he can be stopped by certain schemes.

It is also worth mentioning that both teams score over 40 points per game while allowing less than two touchdowns, so something has to give.

I think Lincoln Christian gets its revenge and returns to the top of Class 3A ... Lincoln Christian 27, Holland Hall 24

Collinsville 35, McAlester 34: This is the game everyone has been waiting for. The unstoppable force that is Collinsville meets the immovable object that is McAlester at 7 p.m. Saturday at UCO.

What a treat it will be, and it is just too bad that one of these teams has to go home with its first and only loss of the season. However, it's a small price to pay considering the winner will be someone other than Carl Albert for the first time in quite a while.

In fact, the last team to win the title before the Titans' five-year run was Altus, which beat Collinsville in the 2015 championship game. Will the Cardinals fare better this time around?

Collinsville (50.8 ppg) and the Buffaloes (45 ppg) are fairly even offensively, so it very well could come down to which team has the better defense. Those numbers are close as well at 12.5 and 11.7 points allowed per game, respectively.

Both offenses are run-first — averaging only 14 pass attempts combined — but given how stout the defenses are, especially at stopping the run, these teams might have to rely on the pass more than they're used to in order to move the ball.

McAlester would be a little more familiar with the pass in that scenario, so the question becomes can the Cardinals make enough plays in the passing game against the "Black Death" defense.

Collinsville hasn't thrown more than 10 passes in a game since Week 10, looking to Andrew Carney's arm only 19 times total through its three playoff games. The Buffaloes have tallied 21 sacks and 15 interceptions this season, so if the run game stalls, Carney's ability to handle that defense will tell us whether the Cardinals have a chance to win this game.

I think this is a low-scoring contest early on as both defenses dominate the first half, but similar to its quarterfinal matchup against Bishop McGuinness, I believe Collinsville comes out on fire in the third quarter.

McAlester might even be ahead at halftime, but the Cardinals find some things on offense early in the second half and wear down the Buffaloes' defense a little bit.

McAlester and its several offensive weapons — particularly quarterback Trent Boatright (1,720 passing yards, 23 TD) and running back Erik McCarty (1,741 rushing yards, 10.2 ypc, 34 TD) — don't let Collinsville pull away, but the Cardinals find a way to finally win their first football state title in school history.

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