Tahliq Jackson

Tahliq Jackson hauls in a touchdown reception against Shawnee in Guthrie's 42-7 win over the Wolves last season. 

The Guthrie Bluejays opened the season with a 23-21 win over 6A-1 Enid High School last Friday night. Guthrie will look to make it six wins in a row over 6A opponents, as they travel to 6A-II Shawnee High School this Friday. The last time the Bluejays lost to a 6A opponent was back in 2017 when they fell to Enid 34-23. Since 2010 the Bluejays are 16-3 against 6A opponents.

A Look At Shawnee

Shawnee enters this week looking to right the ship after the Wolves fell to Choctaw High School 49-21 in their Week O opener. The Wolves struggled out of the gate, allowing the Yellowjackets to take a 12-0 lead before their first offensive snap of the game. Shawnee’s sluggish start proved to be disastrous, allowing Choctaw to take a commanding 28-0 lead into halftime. The Yellowjackets put up over 350 yards of total offense in the first half compared to Shawnee’s 58. Choctaw’s offensive efficiency carried over into the second half, extending their lead to 42-6 at the end of the third quarter. The Wolves added a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was too large to overcome. Shawnee’s offensive woes were most glaring in their rushing attack, as they only managed 56 rushing yards on 24 attempts. While Shawnee couldn’t get their run game going, they did find success through the air in the second half. After throwing for only 36 yards in the first half, quarterbacks Dre’ Evans and Karsen Conaway finished the game with 231 passing yards. Evans threw for 172 of those yards, completing 17 of 33 attempts, but also threw three interceptions. 

Keys To The Game

1. Guthrie's Secondary vs Dre' Evans and the Shawnee Passing Game

The strongest unit on the defense for the Guthrie Bluejays will get a test from one of the best offensive minds in the state of Oklahoma. “I’ve never played a Shawnee team that wasn’t really good on offense,” Guthrie Head Coach Kelly Beeby said last week. “Coach (Billy) Brown is one of the best offensive minds in Oklahoma. I've said it 100 times that a lot of the defensive scheme that's been built in Guthrie over the past 16 years has been predicated on playing them.”

The Bluejay secondary was solid last week against Enid but did give up a touchdown late. With the Wolves finding their footing in the passing game in the second half against Choctaw, the Guthrie secondary will likely be tested early and often. If Guthrie can force Evans into some mistakes like he had a week ago, the Bluejays will have a good shot to make it two wins in a row over Shawnee. 

2. Winning The Run Game

Guthrie broke in an entirely new offensive line last week and as far as first impressions go, they passed with flying colors. The Bluejays rushed for 158 yards thanks to a solid performance by running back Josh Rains who rushed for 141 of those and scored twice. The Bluejays will be facing a defense that was gashed in the run game, as Shawnee gave up 265 yards on 33 attempts. Guthrie loves to impose their will in the run game and then open up the playbook with play action. If Guthrie can get the run game going early and put quarterback Kaiden Ballard-Stevenson into optimal situations to succeed through the air, the Bluejay offense could put up more than their 23 points from a week ago. 

3. Special Teams

The Wolves had two special team blunders against Choctaw. The Yellowjackets recovered an onside kick and returned a kickoff 66 yards. Both plays set up touchdowns for Choctaw. The Bluejays also had a special teams mistake, fumbling a punt return that led to an Enid touchdown. 

4. Finishing The Game

The Bluejays started hot against Enid, scoring 16 points in the first quarter. They managed only seven points after that, allowing Enid to creep back into the game late. The Bluejays had several chances to put the game out of reach but turnovers allowed Enid to stay within striking distance. Shawnee showed last week that no matter how much their offense struggles early, they can turn it on late as they matched Choctaw score for score in the second half. If the Bluejays find themselves with the lead in the second half, it will be critical that they keep the foot on the gas and not allow another comeback.

Guthrie and Shawnee square off Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Jim Thorpe Stadium.

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