AFTON — Fans watching ninth-ranked Cashion in a Class A second-round playoff game Friday, Nov. 17, will see a different team.
But one thing isn’t different: the Wildcats are still winning.
“We graduated 14 off last year’s team, so we’re not the same bunch at all,” Cashion head coach Lynn Shackelford said.
“They graduated some of their main guys but they also have some main guys that people have overlooked,” Afton head coach Zach Gardner said.
The Wildcats, who lost 32-30 to Afton here a year ago, are 9-2 and qualified as the second-place team in District A-5.
“There are probably a couple different factors (for the continued success),” Shackelford said. “The seniors that we do have are pretty good. We’ve had several players who have played really well.”
Wide out Seth Brown, receiver-running back-defensive end Case Cochran and center-defensive tackle Hunter Archer have been key performers for the Cats.
“Those three kids are some of the better kids in A,” Shackelford said.
“They have a stud receiver in Brown,” Gardner said. “He has over 20 touchdown receptions. He is probably college material. The Cochran kid plays wherever they need a play to be made. He is bouncing around quite a bit.
“He plays anywhere from tailback to inside or outside receiver kinda like we use (Brier) Julian.”
Shackelford said the Wildcats will have as many as eight freshmen and sophomore on the field at times.
“Our younger kids have gotten better,” he said. “As each week has gone by, they have gotten better and better. They are young but talented. Meshing all that together and getting some breaks here and there, we’ve been able to make it to the second round.”
This is the 13th straight winning seasons for Cashion since going 4-6 in 2004.
The Wildcats, Class C state champions in 1977, 1979 and 1981, moved up from eight-man in 2008.
“Coach Shackelford does a good job year in and year out,” Gardner said. “They are going to come ready to play. We know that.”
In last year’s meeting, quarterback Wil Amos found slot receiver Gabe Mustain open on a crossing route in full stride for a 59-yard touchdown pass. Mustain's extra point attempt sailed wide left as the Eagles grabbed a 32-30 lead with 7:08 left in the game.
Cashion had two scoring chances down the stretch but had one drive fizzle at the Afton 45-yard line, then again at the Eagle 24 with 15 seconds left but a fourth-down pass was incomplete.
“I said at the beginning of the year that they are one of the favorites to win it,” Shackelford said. “We will have a game plan that we think will be successful. We will just have to hope our kids can execute it. I would venture to say we are probably going to need a little help from Afton, but stranger things have happened on Friday nights in Oklahoma in the playoffs.”
Amos has accounted for 2,827 total yards for Afton — 1,873 yards rushing and 954 yards on 56 of 84 passing.
He’s rushed for 28 touchdowns and has thrown for 15 more.
“He is the real deal, 100 percent,” Shackelford said. “They are good everywhere else, but he definitely is the straw that stirs the drink.”
“Offensively, we need to score on opportunities and not have any turnovers; play sound football,” Gardner said.
Friday’s winner faces either Minco or Fairview in the quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 24.