CUSHING — It’s second verse, hopefully not same as the first for Afton.
The No. 1-ranked Eagles find themselves in the Class A semifinals for a second straight year Friday, Dec. 1, with hopes of getting to the championship game this time.
Eighth-ranked Thomas (11-2) stands in the way.
Senior-laden Hominy threw a monkey wrench in previously unbeaten Afton’s dreams a year ago as the Bucks carted off a 43-15 victory at Owasso.
This time it’s the Eagles who are predominantly a senior team.
“We’re kinda in the same boat Hominy was as far as the fact we have 16 seniors on the (2017) roster, a lot who played in that game. They had 17,” Afton head coach Zach Gardner said. “I feel that is to our advantage going in.
“This group has definitely separated themselves as far as the level of success they’ve brought the program to. We are very grateful for where we’re at.”
“Afton is extremely well coached,” Thomas head coach Bob Ward said. “They have been there, done that. We expect them to be physical and run the ball, expect them to be physical on defense and fly around. They are just a good overall football team.”
Thomas (11-2) survived a scare from Morrison, winning 37-36 on a fourth-down touchdown and the ensuing PAT kick in overtime Friday, Nov. 24.
The Terriers, which had a string of 35 straight playoff appearances at one point, missed post-season play from 2006-2009, but has put together another successful run, winning two championships since 2000.
They’ve won state titles in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1961, 2002 and 2014.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have had some success for quite a while,” Ward said.
This marks the second straight year the Eagles enter the game with a 12-0 record.
They advanced with a 30-6 win at Minco last Friday, using a big second half to take charge.
The Eagles, who fell behind 6-0 early in the first quarter, went up 8-6 in the second period then scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half.
“I think that plays into our strength, the mindset of the kids being mentally tough,” Gardner said. “We just hope we start faster than we have the last two weeks, get things rolling earlier and execute better.”
Slowing up quarterback Wil Amos is a priority for the Terriers.
He had 279 yards and three touchdowns on 40 attempts against Minco. Amos scored on runs of 20, 50 and 1 yard.
“He’s a very special athlete, that’s for sure,” Ward said. “You have to get a lot of people around the ball and limit the one-on-one opportunities that he has.”
Gardner is appreciative of how well the fans have supported the team on the road.
The Eagles have played only five of their 12 games at home — and two of those came back-to-back in the playoffs thanks to being a district champ.
“I was in awe of how well we traveled,” Gardner said. “I didn’t really notice it through the game, but after the game on the field, I would say we had the same or more (fans) than Minco had.
“We’ve been able to win some big games on the road.”
Friday’s winner faces either Crescent or Hooker in the championship at a site and date to be determined.
Second-ranked Crescent (13-0) and No. 13 Hooker (12-1) square off Friday night at Alva in the other semifinal game.