By Chuck Reherman
Southwest Covenant will look to continue its march to a state championship tonight as the stakes get a little higher and a lot tougher.
The No. 3 ranked and unbeaten Patriots will host Tyrone in a Class C quarterfinal match-up at Patriot Field on Taylor Park. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The contest will be the toughest match-up of the season for the 10-0 Patriots, who have mercy ruled eight of those 10 opponents, including Sasakwa in the opening round last week, 48-0. Tyrone comes in at 8-2 losing only to No. 1 ranked and unbeaten Buffalo and defending state runner-up Pond Creek Hunter. The Bobcats beat Fox 52-6 in their opening round game after making a six-plus hour long road trip to play the Foxes.
It will be the third straight year the Bobcats have reached the quarterfinals. The past two seasons, Tyrone went 11-0 before falling in the quarterfinals.
Tyrone, which is located in the panhandle bear the Kansas border, will bring in a spread style offense and a defense that has been stingy on opponents this season.
“Tyrone is a real physical team that likes to play straight downhill football,” SWCS head coach Trey Cloud said. “We are going to have to be disciplined on our assignments offensively and defensively to hopefully get numbers and make the best read we can.
“We know they have played a tough schedule, but we have played well on both sides of the ball and will be healthy going into this game,” he said. “We are going to have to be physical on both sides of the ball and not let them control the tempo of the game.”
Tyrone will be the strongest challenge the Patriots have had this season. SWCS’ closest game was a 24-point win over Coyle midway in the season.
SWCS reached the quarterfinals last year before losing to Pond Creek-Hunter and Cloud expects his team to be ready for this challenge.
“I have told the team that we can’t get too high or too low,” Cloud said. “They know going in that this will be our toughest game and that we have to continue to play hard whether we are up by two or three scores or down. We know we have a team that can score and score fast, but we also know that Tyrone is a team that can do the same.
“We have to come out and be focused on what we are doing and just execute on offense and defense,” he added. “We know that turnovers will be a key and we can’t make mistakes in this game. We need to force them into making the mistakes and turnovers and taking advantage of the game.”
The Patriots should be back at full strength this week. Trevor Kelly sat out last week (although he was suited up) with a sore hip and Cole Shaw injured an ankle early in the game.
Tyler Kelly stepped up on offense and rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Sasakwa.
“We will need both of those guys back in the line-up,” Cloud said. “When Cole left the game, we had both our starting defensive backs on the sidelines, but we had players step up and did a good job. We need to continue to have players step up this week.”
By Chuck Reherman