COMMERCE - A big piece of the playoff pie will be served to the winner of Thursday's District A-8 shootout here between Salina and Commerce.
“Someone is going to go home with a loss, and I hope it's not us,” Commerce head coach Willie Ng said.
“This gives somebody a great opportunity to be sitting in the driver's seat,” said first-year Salina head coach Jeff Williams.
Both are 6-0 overall and 5-0 in district play and are up by one game over Foyil (4-1) and are two-up on Afton, Ketchum and Fairland (all 3-2).
“We've been stressing to our kids that the games are getting bigger now,” Williams said. “Ketchum two weeks ago was big because that was a playoff team from last year and they were undefeated. We knew if we could pull one out there, it would give us a possibility of going to playoffs.
“Coaches in the district had picked Afton to be the champs. They had a very talented team and were very explosive. We stressed to the kids important of that one. Now we will play what obviously is the best team in the district.”
The Tigers are in the midst of a 47-game district winning streak dating back to the 2001 season. They've gone unbeaten in district play for six straight seasons and they've polished off Fairland, Foyil, Afton, Oklahoma Union and Okay up to this point in the '08 campaign.
Their last loss in district play was a 41-20 setback at the hands of Afton on Oct. 12, 2001.
The Tigers have had 15 different players score at least one TD through the first six weeks.
Bryson Sullivan leads the way with 11 TD and 66 points, which is tied for seventh in the Tulsa World's scoring charts.
Josh Pilkinton has scored seven times and Ryan Nowlin has five TDs. Zach Barnes has only scored three times, but he's kicked 35 extra points.
“Commerce has a lot of tradition and they have a great head man in Willie,” Williams said. They play physical football - they play our brand of football. We match up with them in that part of the game.
“We can put five offensive linemen out there who can go from 230 to 290 pounds, our quarterback is a 215-pounder and we have a back who is a 190-pounder,” Williams said. “We are a grind it out, physical team.
The Wildcats opened the season with a 21-20 victory over Locust Grove and have picked up steam.
They popped Quapaw 27-7, topped Okay 39-14 and have posted a 29-6 win over Hulbert and a 22-6 decision over Ketchum before last week's 51-28 demolition of Afton.
A second quarter explosion turned what had been a close game with the Eagles into a season-high off offensive output.
“We're never going to score a lot of points, but how we scored 51 the other night is beyond me,” Williams said. “They had untimely turnovers that really hurt them. There were turnovers we turned into points. Good teams will do that.”
“Coach Williams has them going,” Ng said. “I am sure their kids are buying in. When you drop from one class to another (going from 2A down to A in the latest realignment), that gives you instant confidence.”
“The kids have gained some confidence,” Williams said. “There is still a little doubt in the back of their minds, wondering if they could compete with them. I wonder the same thing this week