By SHAWN YORKS
• Daily Leader
It’s crunch time for Oklahoma high school football teams. With two more district games left, area Panhandle teams are jockeying for playoff position.
Turpin and Tyrone are two teams on the bubble in their district playoff races, while Beaver and Forgan are all but assured of home games in the first round of the playoffs on Nov. 12.
Tyrone will limp into tomorrow’s game at Sharon-Mutual after top running back Travis Shield was hurt in last week’s 48-0 loss to Shattuck. Shield is day-to-day after suffering a whiplash-type injury in the first quarter last week. He hasn’t practiced this week and head coach Josh Bell doesn’t know if he’ll be available tomorrow night.
The Bobcats (5-3 overall, 3-3 in District C-1) are currently fifth in the district and Sharon-Mutual is fourth with a 4-2 district record.
So a win tomorrow would move Tyrone into a fourth place tie, but give the Bobcats the edge based on head-to-head competition. Tyrone ends the season at home on Nov. 5 against hapless Goodwell-Yarbrough, while Sharon-Mutual wraps up against third place Waynoka.
“This is a must-win if you want to extend the season,” Bell said. “We’re looking at it as kind of like a playoff game.”
The Trojans are probably one of the quicker teams Tyrone has faced all year. They mercy-ruled Boise City last week, 52-6.
“They just bring so much to the table,” Bell said. “They’ve got team speed and an experienced line that’s extremely quick.”
The Bobcats played their best game of the year in a 60-28 win over Buffalo two weeks ago, and Bell said they’ll need a similar performance against Sharon-Mutual.
“We’ve got to get off to a fast start and be able to close,” Bell said. “If we can do those things, we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to win. We’ve got to get going early, take care of the ball and limit mistakes.”
Tyrone has not made the playoffs since 1996, but numbers dwindled and the school actually dropped football for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Up until then the Bobcats had periods of success, and were state contenders in the 1960s and ’70s.
Rebuilding that tradition has been a slow process, Bell said. Tyrone has not had a winning season since resurrecting the football program in 2001. At 5-3, this has been their most successful season since the early 1980s. A win in one of their last two games guarantees the Bobcats a winning record.
“We went to the playoffs quite a bit in the early and mid ’90s,” Bell said. “But never on a winning season. You really want your kids to focus in and give themselves the opportunity to go to that next level and experience a playoff game.”
Turpin (5-3) @ Mooreland (3-5)
The Cardinals are currently tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in District A-1 with Enid Oklahoma Bible Academy as both sport 3-2 district records. Mooreland is on the outside looking in at 2-3 in the district standings, and are hoping to play the role of spoiler.
“They’re a good little ball club,” said Turpin head coach Mario Mendoza. “They’ve got a good little running back. We’ve got to contain him, do our assignments, go hard like we’ve done all year and just not have any mistakes.”
Turpin has to win one of its last two games, and Friday in Mooreland is its best opportunity to do so, especially with Beaver looming in the season-finale on Nov. 5.
“We’ve got to win just one game,” Mendoza said. “If Mooreland beats us, it’s going to go to points.”
Fairview (2-6) @ Beaver (7-1)
The Beaver Dusters hope to rebound from last week’s 34-14 loss at Thomas-Fay-Custer, and they have the perfect opponent to do just that — Fairview. The Yellowjackets’ only wins have come over Enid Chisholm and Hooker — a combined 1-15.
So, did the Dusters learn any lessons from the loss to the Terriers last week? As head coach Mike McVay said after the game, most definitely.
“I can already think of a few things I’d do different if we played them tomorrow that would possibly give us an advantage in a couple of areas,” McVay said last weekend.
Forgan (7-1) @ Balko (2-6)
Forgan continues its trek through District C-1’s weaklings with a trip to southwestern Beaver County tomorrow night. After a 45-0 mercy-rule win over Goodwell-Yarbrough last week, Forgan should continue to get some quality work for its younger players against the Bison.
Balko’s two wins have come over Goodwell and Boise City-Keyes, who are a combined 0-16.
Forgan finishes the season — and the district championship — next week at home against Boise City.
Lakin (1-7) @ Southwestern Heights (1-7)
The Mustangs wrap up the 2010 football season at home tonight in a Thursday special against a Lakin squad that has just one win — over Class 2A Sublette — just like the Mustangs, who downed Sublette in Week 1.
Seniors will be recognized before the game and kickoff is at 7 p.m.