Last week we started to look at the toughest games on the schedule for the Guthrie Bluejays in 2019. We ranked them in order of difficulty from 10 (easiest) to 1 (hardest). For those that missed part one, the order was:
• No. 10 | NW Classen
• No. 9 | Guymon
• No. 8 | Lawton Ike
• No. 7 | Woodward
• No. 6 | Enid
Today we will look at the final five remaining games. Like last time, there will be several factors figured into the rankings, including: recent series history, difficulty, location, importance, and anticipated margin.
No. 5 | Shawnee
When: Game 2
Friday, Sept. 6 (7:30 p.m.) at Shawnee
The Guthrie Bluejays will not have back-to-back home games this season. After opening the season at home against Enid High School, the Bluejays will travel to 6A-II Shawnee to face Billy Brown and the Wolves. Shawnee is coming off a 2-8 outing in 2018 and will be looking to get above .500 for the second time since 2014. The Wolves only wins came against 3-7 Sand Springs and 0-10 Ponca City.
The Wolves have several playmakers that can cause any team trouble, but they will also have a mix of new faces. Shawnee will have to replace a two-year starter at quarterback but Jarae Evans will have an experienced offensive line to work behind. With Scout Cawvey back at receiver, the Wolves still possess a game breaker on the outside. Shawnee also returns a good portion of their defense from last year, but that gave up 42.2 points per game in 2018.
Last time: The Bluejays turned back the clock with one of their vintage Guthrie performances against the Wolves last season. Jackson Waddell threw for four touchdowns while the Guthrie defense held Shawnee to -26 rushing yards. The Bluejays added three turnovers in the game, picking off Heath Hunter two times, as Guthrie cruised to a 42-7 victory to remain unbeaten.
No. 4 | Ponca City
When: Game 3
Friday, Sept. 13 (7 p.m.)
at Ponca City
Ponca City enters 2019 riding a 15-game losing streak. Their last win came against Bartlesville on Sept. 22, 2017. The Wildcats haven’t had a winning season in 13 years. Their last district title came 34 years ago. Since 2010, the Guthrie Bluejays are 8-1 against Ponca City. The last time Guthrie traveled to Ponca City, the Wildcats shutout Guthrie, beating the Bluejays 9-0. It’s a loss that still sticks with Guthrie to this day.
Forget the series record and the losing streak; many around the Bluejay program believe this game will be the toughest non-district game on the schedule. Scott Harmon enters his second season as head coach of the Wildcats and optimism surrounds the program for the first time in a while. With six offensive starters returning, including quarterback Kyler Welch, the Wildcat offense should take a jump in 2019. The Wildcats also possess two dynamic playmakers on defense in Lennox Suneagle and Eli Wohl.
Last time: With 1:21 remaining in the game, tied at 14, Ponca City was deep inside Guthrie territory. The Bluejays needed a miracle and got one when Donminic Goosby scooped up a fumble and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. On the next Ponca City possession, Marcellus Owens picked off the Welch pass, returning it 54 yards for a touchdown to give the Bluejays the 28-14 win.
No. 3 | Piedmont
When: Game 4
Friday, Sept. 27 (7 p.m.)
The Guthrie Bluejays will open up district play with the Piedmont Wildcats on Sept. 27 at Jeslma Stadium. While it’s the district opener, the game will have significant implications surrounding it. For the past couple of years this game has determined who will finish third place in the district, eluding the dreaded fourth place slot. With McGuinness and Carl Albert still looming on the schedule for both teams, this game will be monumental in a top-heavy district title chase.
The Wildcats will look much different than they have in years past thanks to Coach Jeff Hall taking over the reigns of the Piedmont program. Hall will install the flexbone offense. It’s a tricky offense to defend, but if there is one style of offense the Bluejays shine against, it’s this one. Guthrie is 4-1 against Piedmont in the last five years, but this will be a very different Wildcat team that trots into ‘The Rock’ in late September.
Last time: The Guthrie Bluejays traveled to Piedmont in last year’s district opener and led wire to wire, as the defense forced four more turnovers including a scoop and score by David Scott. David Vargas added three field goals, as the Bluejays dominated Piedmont 37-9.
No. 2 | McGuinness
When: Game 9
Friday, Nov. 1 (7 p.m.)
Coming in at No. 2 on the hardest games on the schedule could’ve easily been No. 1. The Bishop McGuinness Irish are loaded with elite talent. They are highlighted by TCU commit Dominic Richardson. The 6’1, 205-pound senior running back is electric and is a threat to take it for a touchdown every time he touches the ball. They have an imposing defense highlighted by outside linebacker and OU commit Brynden Walker.
This will be the second to last district match up for both teams, with Guthrie playing Lawton Ike in the finale and McGuinness playing Carl Albert. There will be tons of playoff implications surrounding this rivalry game. Many believe it’s the Irish’s time to capture the gold ball. They’ll have to go through Guthrie and Carl Albert first.
Last time: The Bluejays led 7-0 early before McGuinness scored back-to-back touchdowns to go up 14-7. Guthrie found the end zone thanks to a touchdown pass from Jackson Waddell to Marcellus Owens, but the Bluejays missed the extra point attempt to trail 14-13. McGuinness added a touchdown before half before getting Richardson his only score of the game in the fourth quarter. Guthrie scored with 40 seconds remaining but couldn’t recover the onside kick. The loss put Guthrie into the third place spot in the district, forcing them on the road for week one in the playoffs.
No. 1 | Carl Albert
When: Game 7
Thursday, Oct. 17 (7 p.m.)
at Carl Albert
Who else could it be? Carl Albert stands atop Class 5A as the best team in the state. They have won three consecutive state championships and are currently riding a 36-game win-streak heading into 2019. They are the top-ranked team once again as they are loaded with talent at virtually every position. They return six starters on offense, including quarterback Ben Harris who has yet to lose a game in high school. He’s thrown for over 5,000 yards and 55 touchdowns in his two years as the Titan starter and he has plenty of weapons to throw to this year.
The Titan defense returns several key players from a unit that held opponents to 13.2 points per game last year including linebackers Reise Collier and David Peters. Carl Albert and Guthrie are synonymous in the hierarchy of 5A football. Guthrie will look to dethrone the Titans on a special Thursday night meeting in October.
Last time: Billed as the best game in the state, the top-ranked Titans shut out the sixth-ranked Bluejays 21-0 at Jelsma Stadium. Guthrie, who had been on the right side of so many key plays during the 2018 season, was on the wrong side of them against the Titans. The Titans held Guthrie to just 80 yards of offense.