TULSA — Don’t let Tulsa Cascia Hall’s record fool you.
The Commandoes, who host Miami Friday, Oct. 6, improved to 2-3 with a 42-0 romp over Tulsa McLain last Friday.
But the losses have been to three 5-0 teams:
• 2A No. 3 Holland Hall (21-7),
• 2A No. 1 Millwood (52-15) and
• 4A No. 1 Wagoner (34-7).
This will be the last meeting between Miami and Cascia Hall for at least two years following a shuffle of football districts by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association.
Cascia Hall is dropping down to Class 3A along with district rival Vinita.
The new-look District 4A-3 includes Oologah, Grove, Bristow, Tulsa McLain, Catoosa, Cleveland and Wagoner.
The Commandoes won 3A state titles in 1999, 2007, 2008 and ’09 and a 2A championship in 1989.
They haven’t been as successful in 4A, but have been a semifinalist the past two seasons and have qualified for the playoffs each year since moving up a class in 2012.
“As long as Coach Medina (veteran Cascia Hall head coach Joe Medina) is there, they’re always going to be a well-coached group,” Miami head coach Andrew Rice said. “He does a great job with them. It’s another opportunity to see a program that we want aspire to be.
“They have a lot of kids that show up and want to work and hit people. They don’t make mistakes and are a very sound group. It creates different challenges than we did with Wagoner.”
The Wardogs put together one of their best offensive performances last Friday during a 55-14 loss to Wagoner.
Sure MHS lost for the 15th straight time against the three-time state champion Bulldogs and fifth time this season, but it showed the pass-catch tandem of quarterbacks Jay Porter and Gavin Payton and wide receiver Damion Burris can be something special.
Burris had a school record 12 receptions for 141 yards and a 19-yard touchdown against the Bulldogs.
And his totals might have been even more impressive.
Burris couldn’t dial in a pass in the end zone that would have gone for a 12-yard touchdown just before the half.
The old school record was 11.
Zach Simpson first did it on Oct. 21, 2005, and then James Pickens repeated it three years later, Oct. 31, 2008.
“It takes a lot of work by both of them, whether it’s Jay or Gavin — both of those guys are capable of doing it,” Rice said. “There’s just a lot of work and no selfishness that has to go into that.”
Burris returned the game’s opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, but the play was negated by an illegal block penalty.
He rambled 30 yards with a fumble for the Wardogs’ first touchdown of the night — and their first defensive score of the season.
That marked the first time MHS has done that since Alec Hayward went 57 yards with a fumble on Oct. 30, 2015, and just the second time in 34 games.
The team, which has few players with varsity experience, is taking baby steps forward.
“That is the trick,” Rice said. If we just continue to grow each week then we will start accomplishing some of these things we want to accomplish.”
The Wardogs return home to face Catoosa on Friday, Oct. 13.