Turnovers came back to haunt the Drumright Tornado football team Friday in round two of the OSSAA Class B football playoffs as they fell to the Pioneer-Pleasant Vale Mustangs 52-6.
The game was called on the mercy rule after the first half of play.
Tornado head coach Neal Bacon attributed this game’s outcome to a common factor that has plagued the team throughout the year.
“The Pioneer game was kind of a microcosm of our entire season,” said Bacon. “We did not match up well with their strength and cohesiveness on both sides of the ball. They were able to move us, opening up holes for their backs to run to and limiting our ability to find holes.”
Bacon also said his team had trouble protecting the rock. “We turned the ball over several times, something we had not done in the previous two games,” he said.
Travian Hall, the team’s leading rusher, was held to 47 yards on 10 carries.
Dakota Weir rushed for 16 yards on seven carries and threw for 47 yards on two of three receptions.
Kevin Gooch rushed for 19 yards on seven carries. “Over the season in general we learned that we need to get stronger,” said Bacon. "Every team we lost to had a decided strength advantage. We now have nine months to work on building the strength we need to compete with the upperlevel teams.”
Defensive Coordinator Tod Price agrees with Bacon. “Get in the weight room and let’s get stronger,” said Price. “Then we can be a top-rated program in any sport.” Price said he was proud to coach this group of athletes.
“These young men are the foundation of what we are wanting to start in Drumright,” he said. “Not just for the football program but basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track, cross country and cheer. Every sport here helps the other. These men who laid the foundation didn’t know what to expect. From the time the seniors were freshmen they were 1-29. All we did was show a way… create a path to see that if you try you can succeed.”
“We improved quite a bit on both sides of the ball as the season progressed,” said Bacon. “It takes a while to learn a new offense and we got much better as the year went on. All in all, we progressed, which is what we wanted, and we have a good nucleus coming back for next years team.”
All of the Tornado starting line is returning with the exception of Devin Martin on both sides of the ball. The Tornado defense is getting back its starting linebackers and one of its safeties.
“We have plenty to build on,” Bacon said. “We just have to replace a few key positions such as quarterback and running back on offense and our corners on defense.”
Bacon said that a new quarterback will have a tough act to follow.
“We will definitely miss our quarterback and running back on offense,” he said.
Dakota Weir showed plenty of growth at the quarterback position during the year, rushing for almost 900 yds and running the option like he had been doing it for years.
Running back Travian Hall rushed for 1,970 yards.
“How do you replace that kind of productivity?” Bacon asked.
Two other seniors whose absence will be felt next season are Devin Martin, who started on both sides of the ball all year, and Kadin McBride who led the team in interceptions and was the No. 2 tackler on the team.
“These guys are going to be hard to replace,” Bacon said.
Price expressed his appreciation to the young athletes.
“To the football team, I personally would like to say thanks,” said Price. “They always tried and never griped or argued. These are quality young men and I am proud to have gotten to know them.”
Price said that the playoffs were not really part of the conversation at the beginning of the season.
“Second round of the playoffs! I never would have thought that on August 13,” he said. “Heart; they all have huge hearts.”
Price also expressed his appreciation to Tornado fans who stuck with the team through thick and thin.
“Wow! Y’all truly rock!” Said Price. “Thanks for everything — the cheering and driving to games - but most importantly thank you for letting us coach. These men taught me as much this year as I probably did them! Words cannot express my gratitude.”
“I think our fans and players began to realize that eightman is still football and the things that make a good 11- man team also make a good eight-man team,” said Bacon. I guarantee you the top two teams in our district would still be playing in the playoffs if they were in 11-man.