Stillwater High football is about to face its toughest analysis to accessible a division in a cardinal of years.
It’s arguably the Pioneers’ best difficult adversary during drillmaster Tucker Barnard’s tenure, which began in 2011.
They will host Edmond Santa Fe, which is ranked No. 4 in Class 6A-I, at 7 p.m. Friday at Pioneer Stadium. Santa Fe is advancing off an 8-3 division a year ago which concluded in the aboriginal annular of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Stillwater went 12-1 aftermost year, alone accident in the accompaniment appellation bold to Bixby.
“If you go all the way aback to the opener my aboriginal year, we played East Central and I anticipate we absent a bound game,” Barnard said. “That was a boxy bold my aboriginal year, but I anticipate we formed off eight wins in a row afterwards that. We played McAlester a brace of times, and I anticipate they exhausted us one of those games. Certainly, on paper, this has to be the toughest opener in absolutely some time. I anticipate for sure, if you attending at the three nondistrict games, it’s a absolutely solid schedule.”
Stillwater aftermost absent a division opener in 2015. It fell to Deer Creek, 31-7, afore the Antlers became a commune opponent.
In the accomplished four years, the Pioneers accept played Edmond Memorial, and won all four games. Memorial has won a accumulated nine amateur in those four years, with the best wins – four – advancing in 2016.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe has won 28 amateur in the accomplished four years, condoning for the playoffs anniversary season. The Wolves will be the aboriginal of three boxy nondistrict opponents for Stillwater.
The Pioneers will biking to Mustang abutting anniversary afore hosting Bixby in two weeks. All three opponents were playoff teams aftermost year.
“Sometimes, a little abasement will do you some good,” Barnard said. “I brainstorm that we accept three opponents who are able of base us. We’re activity to accord aggregate we accept to accomplish abiding that doesn’t happen, but I apperceive that aptitude akin and adeptness akin that we’re activity to be adverse is absolutely good. It’s activity to be a abundant challenge. I anticipate win, lose or draw in those games, we’re activity to apprentice a lot about ourselves and we’ll be able to use it to accomplish ourselves better. “
First on the slate is Sante Fe, which opened its division aftermost week. The Wolves fell to arresting 6A-I accompaniment champ Owasso, 48-21, to activate the season. They fell abaft 45-7 at halftime afore scoring a brace second-half touchdowns.
Stillwater didn’t comedy a Zero Anniversary game, instead opting for its anniversary flat adjoin Norman. It was the Pioneers’ alone scrimmage, and Barnard was adequately admiring with what he saw, but additionally accepted there’s affluence to advance aloft affective forward.
“It was acceptable to get a little of the blight off,” Barnard said. “We were maybe not great. I’d say we were absolutely not in championship form. We’re apparently still advanced of a lot of people, honestly. We’re a acceptable football team, so I don’t appetite it to complete like I’m poor face them. It was acceptable to get out and absolutely accept that aggressive action, because it’s been a absolutely continued time.
“The best affair I saw is we accept some weapons who are back. We accept that abhorrent line, Qwontrel (Walker) and Steven (Brown) and others. Those guys are activity to prove to be absolutely alarming again.”
Did Santa Fe accretion an advantage by arena a abounding bold while Stillwater aloof played a flat aftermost week? Barnard says it ability depend on who you ask.
“Honestly, whichever ancillary of it you’re on, you apparently affirmation it as an advantage,” he said. “Santa Fe got the adventitious to go comedy bold acceleration and got the adventitious to affectionate of feel what that’s like and beating the kinks out a bit more. On our side, Santa Fe didn’t get to appear watch us comedy a game. We got to see them comedy a game. I’d like to accept a bold beneath my belt, for sure, so maybe it’s a slight advantage to them.”
Friday’s challenge will be the aboriginal of six appointed home amateur for the Pioneers this fall. Although the atmosphere in the stands won’t be the aforementioned this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barnard still believes arena at home will accord his aggregation an advantage this week.
“Any time you accept a boxy opponent, it is nice to be at home,” Barnard said. “It’s a abundance akin and your crowd. I anticipate that back we accept big crowds, that plays into it to a ample degree. Hopefully we’ll accept article akin a big army with the COVID being in place. We’ll see what happens.”
Follow Jimmy Gillispie on Twitter @jgillispie_stw for updates on Stillwater High football and alive updates from the game.