WELCH — A big game for Welch is now even bigger.
The Wildcats, who host arch-rival Bluejacket on Friday, Sept. 29, in the Battle of the Bell, suffered their first loss of the season last week when Medford escaped with a 48-44 victory in the District C-3 opener for both.
“It’s more than rivalry right now. It’s we’re fighting to get into the playoffs,” Welch head coach Ryan Gleaves.
It won’t come easy: the fifth-ranked and unbeaten Chieftains’ high octane offense gained another valuable weapon last week with the addition of senior Ethan Sajulga.
Sajulga, who originally wasn’t going to play this season, had 129 yards and two touchdowns on his first 12 carries in a 54-25 romp over Covington-Douglas.
What had been a rivalry dominated by Welch in the 1980s and ’90s, has flipped in Bluejacket’s favor.
The Chieftains have won five straight and nine of the last 10 to narrow what had been a big deficit to 19-10.
“We’re not going to worry about motivation,” Bluejacket head coach Ronnie Simmons said. “We are going to come out and be more physical with them. I don’t think they’ve been hit this year.”
“Up front we are bigger than them for sure, but they run the offense well,” Gleaves said. “They are a little more versatile this year than they have been. They are not real big up front, but if they get it to their skill kids, they are dangerous.”
The addition of Sajulga means quarterback Coy McGlasson won’t have to run the ball as much.
Through the first four games, McGlasson had run the ball 48 times. He carried it 59 times total in 2016.
“When we have him and Torres (senior Reuben Torres) in there, we don’t have to run Coy as much,” Simmons said. “That’s probably what we’re going to emphasize more the rest of the year: try to keep him a little more healthy.”
In other action on Week 5, Wyandotte and Fairland celebrate homecoming against Nowata and Foyil, respectively, while Afton hosts Barnsdall and Quapaw travels to Rejoice Christian.