Going for the Gold

SWCS, Tipton square off for Class C state title

Blake Riddell (85) and Andrew Hickman dive on a fumble by Buffalo’s Rollin Richard in the second half of the Patriots’ 42-20 win in the class C state semifinals. (Photo by Chuck Reherman)

By Chuck Reherman
Sports Editor

Southwest Covenant has accomplished all but one of their goals that were set back in August.

The Patriots have the chance to make it a perfect slate on Friday.

No. 3 ranked Southwest Covenant will play in its first ever Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association Class C State Football Championship, facing No. 2 and two two-time defending state champion Tipton. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Milam Stadium on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.

SWCS, 12-0, will face a Tiger team that knows what it is like to play in state championship games. Tipton, 10-2, will be making its fourth trip to the finals in the last five years and head coach Travis White will be looking to add to that total.

Tipton’s only two losses of the season came to both Class B schools (Shattuck and Snyder).

Shattuck is playing in the Class B semifinals and Snyder had reached the quarterfinals.

The Tigers are not strangers to the Patriots. The teams have met the last four seasons in district play. Tipton has won all four of those meetings, winning 52-12 in 2017 and 59-14 in 2016.

But, the Patriots feel this is their year to break that string and bring home a gold ball.

“It’s great, you can’t sell that short, it is a great accomplishment to get here,” SWCS head coach Trey Cloud said. “The boys have worked hard to get here and we prepare for this week like we have all year long.

“That is awesome that we have the chance to play a team like Tipton for the state championship,” Cloud said. “We have played them the last four years, so to me it is just playing Tipton. They are a very good team and we have to figure out a way to win. But, it is not like we are playing a team we have never seen before and has this huge reputation.

We have been in their district the last four years and we feel that is to our advantage to our part.

“They are a good team, but to be here, you have to play good teams and that it part of it. We have played two really good teams to get to the finals and you have to play the best to be here and be a state champion.”

The Patriots reached the finals following a 42-20 win over No. 1 ranked Buffalo in the semifinals. Tipton advanced to the final with a 50-28 win over Pond Creek-Hunter.
The Tigers have been known for the power running game in the past. Tipton will run that power attack more from a spread formation with running backs Semaj McBride and Jeremiah Smith.

Lane Chandler keys the offense at quarterback and will also play a part in the running game, but can throw the ball as well.

“Tipton has a little bit of everything,” Cloud said. “They have some size and skill players and run good schemes. We are working on what we will be able to take advantage of and what we can try to do offensively. On defense, we have to be gap sound.

“They run the ball mostly, about 75 percent of the time,” he added. “What they do is run, run, run, then open the pass with play action, so you have to be disciplined at all times.”
This is be the first time the Patriots have played in the OSSAA state title game, but it will be the second championship game for the school. SWCS played in the Oklahoma Christian Schools Activities Association state title game the year before joining the OSSAA.

For the current team, they were elementary school students at that time and playing in a state final for a first time can bring on some anxiety.

“I’m sure there will be some nerves, we definitely saw that last week,” Cloud said. “But the semifinals also help you get you prepare you for that. It’s a big game, like the one before. We will be playing in a bigger stadium, but it will also be an exciting time.”

Tipton comes into the finals averaging 57 points a game in the playoffs.

The Patriots have also been high scoring and have ridden the arm of Ben Webb, who has thrown 14 touchdown passes in the playoffs.

“We just have to come out and play fundamental football and just do our job,” Cloud said.

“They run the ball well and defensively they are solid. We can’t lose guys in coverage and play gap responsibility.

“Everyone has their job and we just have to do our jobs and hopefully it will work out,” he added. “I told the guys they are good and are going to make plays,” he said. “We just have to make one more than they do. We have to answer one more time. It is a game of inches, but they are going to get a chunk here and there, but we have to respond right and you have to rebound.

“It will be an exciting game and will be fun. It could be a shoot-out or a defensive game. They are going to make plays and so are we.”